Event of the Week: The Wurzels Benefit

July 22, 2013

West Country Legends Support Glastonbury Abbey

The UK is filled with ancient ruins and historical sites, but not all of them have the support of The Wurzels, music legends who lent support on 14th June to an even bigger legend: the place stories claim as the final resting place of both the Holy Grail and King Arthur, Somerset’s Glastonbury Abbey.

The site’s Rescue Our Ruins appeal aims to fund preservation work and visitor experience enhancements to several important areas of the abbey. The trust that maintains the property has a goal of £500,000 for their appeal, roughly one pound for every person living and working in Somerset.

Known religious use of the area dates back to the 7th century, and the confirmed history of Glastonbury Abbey mingles with many myths and legends. Also known as the Isle of Avalon, the area was thought to have been a site of pre-Christian worship. Celtic lore calls it an isle of enchantment where fairies live, where the dead pass to the next plane of existence, and even as the home of the Lord of the Underworld.

Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea, the great-uncle of Christ, built the first Christian church there after his nephew’s death. On that trip, Joseph brought the Holy Grail with him and buried it at the entrance to the underworld. A spring formed there, granting eternal youth for the tasting.

After the Battle of Camlann, King Arthur was said to have recovered at Glastonbury Abbey, and when his wounds proved mortal, was buried there. Centuries later, monks excavated the site and found the possible remains of Arthur and Guinevere. Those remains were placed in a tomb in the abbey church almost a century after, but it was vandalised after the abbey was closed in 1539, and the remains have never been found.

The Wurzels played to a crowd of 500. James Stone, member of the abbey trust, says they even sold out of their Glastonbury Abbey Cider at the event. The combination of bar and ticket sales helped raise over £6,000 for the cause, and helped make a memorable night.

“Hearing classic Somerset songs such as ‘The Blackbird’ and ‘Drink Up Thy Cider’ played in the abbey was certainly a highlight,” Stone says.  “Mainly though, it was great to see 500 people enjoying themselves with a very different atmosphere on site. It was also great to see lots of new faces from the local community coming into the abbey.”

The group promoted the concert with posters, Facebook, Twitter, radio and newspaper ads, and press releases. Stone believes newspaper ads and Facebook posts helped the most since they “certainly saw little surges of ticket sales after anything appearing in the paper and online sales appearing after FB posts.”

Stone admits that an event of this scale is quite the undertaking, but feels it’s all worth it in the end.

“It was a hectic but ultimately rewarding process. I think the main thing I would take away from it, and pass on to others, is that it’s always good to remember that concerts become a lot more complicated when they take place outdoors. As such, things will run much more smoothly when you get sound professionals involved. So, it’s good to get them onboard as early as possible in the planning process.”

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