Tag Archives: St. Michael’s Prison

Glastonbury Town Council B to reconsider toilet facilities at Glastonbury Tor

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor are often understandably concerned about the availability of lavatories.  After all, who wants to have their visit to this mystical peak cut short because of the need to search for a loo?

Prior to the closure of St Michael’s Prison, the lack of toilet facilities wasn’t such a problem, because under certain circumstances visitors were allowed to use the facilities at the jail.  But with their disappearance, the lack of toilets within 32 miles of Glastonbury Tor has started to create difficulties for visitors with weaker bladders.

And because of government cuts the free Park And Pee bus shuttle service has been suspended.

Glastonbury Tor Ultrabeast might be Queen Hamster

Glastonbury Tor visitors are advised to keep peanuts double wrappedFor many years scientists have been mystified by the all-male population of Somerset Stranglers – the breed of hamsters native to Glastonbury Tor. The big question has always been how do they reproduce?

Religious teaching has been that they engage in virgin birth, explaining why so many hamsters are depicted in the stained glass windows of churches in Glastonbury.

Historically the scientific community has not challenged this idea out of respect for the hamster’s right to privacy. Local byelaws make it illegal to film these adorable animals during what might or might not be their mating season.

But the mystery of how Somerset Stranglers reproduce may have finally been answered thanks to recent coppicing of the wooded area on the dangerous north face of the Tor.

Police have received a higher than normal number of reports of a giant creature. Nervous villagers have responded in the traditional way by screaming “Ultrabeast!” as they run home, lock their front door and hide behind the sofa. But a new generation of visitors to Glastonbury have been able to give police a description.

Chief Inspector Wilkinson of the Glastonbury constabulary explains: “Over the last week we have received dozens of calls from ramblers warning of an unexplained creature that roams Glastonbury Tor. Estimates put it at somewhere around twelve feet tall, and bright white in colour. But the clue that makes us think it might be a Somerset Strangler is that so many independent witnesses have described it as having adorably weak forearms. There is only one creature I know of matching that description.”

Wilkinson continues: “The guys in forensics think it may be a rare queen hamster that used to live in the tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor, and was forced from its natural habitat when the prisoners at St Michael’s Prison dug their escape tunnel and delved too deep. It may now have gone to dwell in the woods on the north face of the Tor, and the coppicing has left it without a home.”

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor should be reassured that there have been no reports of the Ultrabeast attacking humans so it is probably perfectly safe to visit the area. However, if you take a picnic onto the tor you should keep any bags of peanuts double wrapped as they cause aggressive behaviour in male Somerset Stranglers and this could be a hideous problem when scaled up to the proportions of a queen hamster.

What is under Glastonbury Tor?

What is under Glastonbury Tor?This seemingly simple question has mystified people for over a hundred years – what is beneath Glastonbury Tor?

The simple answer is that it depends on just how far down you want to go.

The surface of Glastonbury Tor is covered mainly by grass, with the exception of the paved walkway that was installed by King Arthur, and the half acre test area of garlic and vines that has been planted by Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers as part of their tor takeover plans.

But below this seemingly prosaic surface is where it gets interesting!

Between 0 and 15cm below the surface – geologists call this the Strangularis Plateau

On Glastonbury Tor the upper topsoil layer is riddled with wild hamster burrows since they went rampant in the 1970’s. This breed known locally as Somerset Stranglers have such contradictory qualities that the National Trust has consistently been unable to take the decisive action of a cull. This isn’t helped by the large number of local protest groups, some in favour of reducing the hamster population, and some – such as the Strangler Preservation Society – who aggressively defend hamster rights.

Although the burrows are too small for a human foot to get trapped in, they are a risk to dog paws, which is one of the reasons for the hundreds of Keep Off The Grass signs on Glastonbury Tor.

Between 15cm and 30cm below the surface – geologists call this the Mud Layer

Although they have very sharp claws for fighting, the hamsters that are native to Glastonbury Tor have adorably weak forearms and can not dig very deep. This means the lower area of topsoil is undisturbed, and is mainly composed of spoilings from the tunnel excavations at the now disused St. Michael’s Prison.

Between 30cm and 100cm below the surface – geologists call this the Paving Layer

The recent geophysics scan commissioned by Glastonbury Archaeology Society revealed that King Arthur and his merry men actually paved the whole of Glastonbury Tor in ancient times but local residents gradually took and used these slabs to make patios in their back gardens.

Between 100cm and 200cm below the surface – geologists call this the 42 Layer

The biggest 42 in the world is believed to be below the surface of Glastonbury Tor, revealed by two consecutive geophysics scans. It is formed from protrusions of iron from the core of Glastonbury Tor.

Between 200cm and the centre of the earth

The majority of the majestic mount that people see when they visit Glastonbury is made of solid iron – a huge geological anomaly that weighs as much as the moon, but is much more compact and convenient. This explains why metal detectors do not work properly within a two mile radius of Glastonbury Tor.

Tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor

Legend has it that Glastonbury Tor is riddled with a hidden labyrinth of tunnels – a maze haunted by the ghosts of untold numbers of monks and druids who got lost attempting to find their way from the tor to Glastonbury Abbey, or the Glastonbury Druidic Headquarters. No evidence has ever been found of these tunnels. The only tunnel known to exist was that created by prisoners at St. Michael’s Prison that was cut short just before reaching Castle Cary train station.

Instructions to Keep Off The Keep Off The Signs are unfair say pilgrims

Recent visitors to Glastonbury Tor will have noticed that many of the signs instructing them to keep off the grass, keep off the garlic and keep off the path have been kicked over by angry protesters.

Although this is a fairly civilized campaign, with signs being gently kicked so that they stand at a jaunty angle, the gatekeepers at the tor are not taking this behaviour lying down.

Keep Off The Keep Off The Signs instructionsIn response, Chief Gatekeeper Titania Bonham-Smythe unveiled a new hand-painted instruction board today at the nimbleness assessment area that explains the purpose of the various Keep Off The signs, and the consequences of being caught disobeying the rules.

Bonham-Smythe explains; “As you know, our members of staff love nothing more than stopping ignorant members of public and telling them fascinating historical facts, but we have had to put this on hold since this protest started. My staff members are spending all day just straightening kicked-over signs.”

But speaking on behalf of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union, Chief Stairmaster Paul Hompkins is rather more critical of the new instruction board; “while the message appears quite simple – visitors to the tor are told in no uncertain terms that the Keep Off The signs are there for their own good – it’s the small print that has everyone worried. For example, if you are caught kicking over a sign, even by accident, you can find yourself spending a whole afternoon locked in one of the old cells at St. Michael’s Prison. This has already caused quite a problem for some of our older union members who have a hard time making their daily barefoot ascent. We are used to a life of penitence, but we’re really not accustomed to slopping out, and the food is terrible.”

‘Clear the shelves’ gift shop protest

Playset sales limited to three per customerEchoing the spending cut protests at public libraries this week, visitors to the National Trust gift shop at Glastonbury Tor have been buying everything from the shelves faster than staff can restock them.

In a peaceful protest spearheaded by the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union, hundreds of people have been buying items from the gift shop in response to the recent proposal by Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers to buy the tor from the National Trust and replant the grass with a mixed crop of vines and garlic.

Uther Henge, the top mystical consultant at the National Trust, who is stationed permanently in the gift shop at Glastonbury Tor was brimming with excitement; “People didn’t seem to mind the original plan to replant the tor with variegated shrubs and perennials as far as the eye can see, but the Pilgrims Union in particular were worried that vines would ruin the view out over the plains of Somerset. The double win here is that we had a massive over-stock of Lady Guinevere Lingerie in the gift shop, and have sold over a hundred garments this morning alone.”

The other good news is that the gift shop has sold all of the remaining antique reproduction slop buckets from their prison novelties range that were left over following the closure of St. Michael’s Prison.

Glastonbury Horticultural Society in tor takeover bid

Shrubs that may soon grow on Glastonbury Tor“It’s just so dull at the moment. We envisage a display of variegated shrubs and perennials as far as the eye can see” says Glastonbury Horticultural Society ground-cover technician Oliver Swetherstone, waving his arm across the wide expanse of grass on Glastonbury Tor.

The tor is admittedly rather samey, with swathes of grass broken only by St. Michael’s Tower at the top. It has been this way for as long as anyone can remember. But it seems the Glastonbury Horticultural Society thinks of this as a wasted opportunity, and with financial backing from a consortium of local businesses, it could be that the tenancy currently enjoyed by the National Trust could be replaced by something a lot more colourful.

Swetherstone continued “admittedly the walk from the National Trust gift shop up to the stuffed animals display in the tower is enjoyable, but since they closed St. Michael’s Prison it is no longer important for the guards to have a clear line of sight for their searchlights. This gives us a fabulous opportunity to cover the whole space in displays of exotic shrubbery, and as a result increase the number of visitors ten-fold.”

Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor, normally so outspoken in defence of the Trust, was at something of a loss for words; “Since the news last week about the new branch of Tescos I thought things were going to settle down around here, but it seems that was just the first step of a radical change to the tor. I suppose it will be a lot more colourful if the Glastonbury Horticultural Society buyout goes ahead, and a lot of gardeners will be employed maintaining the shrubs. I’m sorry though, this might be an old-fashioned view but horticulture is just not very mystical, is it?”