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Glastonbury Abbey was established as a Benedictine monastery, under Beorhtwald, its first Saxon abbot, during the years 670 to 678 AD. Prior to that time, it had existed for many years as a Celtic religious center. Legend says Joseph of Arimathea brought Jesus here and they built the old wattle and daub church. Archaeology tells us that Christianity was present since Roman times. The Abbey was destroyed by fire in 1184 and rebuilt.
In 1536, during the 27th year of the reign of Henry VIII, there were over 800 monasteries, nunneries and friaries in Britain. By 1541, there were none. More than 10,000 monks and nuns had been dispersed and the buildings had been seized by the Crown to be sold off or leased to new lay occupiers. Glastonbury Abbey was one of principal victims of this action by the King, during the social and religious upheaval known as the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
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