The final chapter in the story of Britain’s most expensive jail finally came to an end yesterday as the prison in the basement of St. Michael’s Tower closed, and its captives were let out on license to roam the streets of Glastonbury.
St Michael’s Tower sits on top of Glastonbury Tor, and for many years has been a source of friction between the prison service and the National Trust – the basement being managed by prison officers, and the upper floors staffed by National Trust volunteers.
The closure of this prison was welcomed by many people, not least Uther Henge, the mystics consultant stationed in the gift Shop at Glastonbury Tor, who explained; “Life has been intolerable at times, with prisoners being mocked by members of public who mistakenly believe they are there as part of an interactive display, and prisoners shouting abuse at visitors as they enjoy the mystical nature of the Tor”.
But prison guard Barry Evans who has been guarding prisoners at St Michael’s Prison for over twenty years and is now being reassigned to one of the prison service’s more prosaic clinks was less than enthusiastic; “I’ve spent many happy hours meditating on the meaning of life while guarding convicts in this prison – it has the reputation of being the most spiritually enlightened place to be incarcerated in the whole of the United Kingdom”.
Looking wistfully out over the misty plains surrounding Glastonbury Tor, Barry Evans continued; “The thing is though, many people high up in the prison service regard it as more of a novelty prison and although we get extra funding from the prison-related gifts sold at the National Trust shop, it still costs a lot more to lock someone up here than at the bigger but less mystical prisons elsewhere in England”.