1. ITV Report

Glastonbury Abbey kitchen to reopen after major restoration

An actor posing as a monk in the restored kitchen. Photo: Glastonbury Abbey

The medieval Abbot's Kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset will reopen on 4 April after its first major restoration in centuries. The work is the first part of a £500,000 scheme to restore the abbey as a whole - so far £104,130 has been raised.

Food was cooked over open fires. Credit: Glastonbury Abbey

The kitchen is a rare example of a surviving medieval monastic kitchen. It was built between the 13th and 14th centuries, its scale and grandeur reflecting the abbey's wealth and importance at the time, and the need to cater for rich and powerful visitors.

Sumptous dinners were prepared in the kitchen for the visiting royalty and nobles. When Edward III and Queen Philippa visited in 1331 £800 was spent on food, accommodation and ceremonies. That's the equivalent of £350,000 today

The food and crockery is typical of the abbey's Tudor heyday. Credit: Glastonbury Abbey

Legend has it that the Abbot's kitchen was built entirely of stone after a quarrel between the Abbot and the king, who threatened to burn it down! The conservation work involved mending the stonework, and improving ventilation and lighting to allow for more modern day visitor activities.

The outside of the kitchen. Credit: Glastonbury Abbey

Along with the Lady Chapel, this has been the most significant and comprehensive programme of conservation at the Abbey in the last 100 years. The Abbot’s Kitchen is surviving evidence of the wealth and influence of Glastonbury Abbey. As head of the richest monastery in England after Westminster, the abbot lived and entertained in considerable splendour.

– Janet Bell, Director