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10 things you may not know about the Glastonbury Holy Thorn

Glastonbury Abbey's famous Holy Thorn has been shortlisted in the Tree of the Year contest.

While the votes are being cast, here are ten things you might now know about this famous flowerer:

  • The Holy Thorn spends Christmas with the Queen - the custom of sending a cutting to decorate the Royal festive table dates back to the 17th century
  • It bears flowers and berries at the same time - unlike ordinary hawthorn trees, it flowers at Christmas time as well as in the spring
The tree flowers twice a year, at Easter and Christmas
  • The belief that the Glastonbury Holy Thorn blossomed on Christmas Day created great stress in 1753, when the Gregorian Calendar was adopted to bring Britain into line with Europe and eleven days were dropped from the month of September:

A vast concourse of people attended the noted thorn on Christmas-day, new style; but, to their great disappointment, there was no appearance of its blowing, which made them watch it narrowly the 5th of January, the Christmas-day, old style, when it blowed as usual.

– Gentleman's Magazine, 1752
  • It is associated with legends about Joseph of Arimathea and the arrival of Christianity in Britain
  • The "original" Glastonbury Thorn was cut down and burned as a relic of superstition during the English Civil War.
  • Legend has it that as the thorn was cut down, its thorns blinded the axe man in one eye
One was planted on Wearyall Hill in 1951 to replace the tree burned in the 17th century Credit: ITV News
  • Since then, the tree has been vandalised multiple times
  • The original tree has been propagated a few times, with one tree growing at Glastonbury Abbey and another at the Church of St John
  • In 1965, the Queen erected a wooden cross at Glastonbury with the following inscription:

The cross, the symbol of our faith, the gift of Queen Elizabeth II, marks a Christian sanctuary so ancient that only legend can record its origin

– Inscription


Trapped badger rescued from football net

Credit: Secret World

Wildlife rescuers from Secret World at Highbridge in Somerset were called in to help a badger that had become trapped in goal netting on a school football pitch.

The unfortunate animal was spotted by a teacher at Woolavington Primary School. The netting could not be cut away on the spot - so the badger was taken to Quantock Veterinary Hospital in Bridgwater where he was sedated. More details here.

Family to retrace missing Swindon man's last steps

Paul Griffiths was last seen nearly a week ago Credit: Avon & Somerset Police

The family of a missing musician from Swindon are to stage a walk tomorrow to mark a week since he disappeared. Paul Griffiths hasn't been seen since leaving the Priory Hospital in Bristol where he had checked himself in after suffering from serious anxiety.

Mr Griffiths, 60, from Clifton Street in Swindon, was last seen at 11.30am last Tuesday morning on Heath House Lane in the Stapleton area of Bristol.

“We have conducted several lines of enquiry since Paul was reported missing and we have carried out extensive searches in the area local to where he was last seen.

“I am really keen to hear from anyone who may have seen Paul last Tuesday morning on or around Heath House Lane, Bristol, or in the local area since that time."

– Det Insp Peter Highway, Avon & Somerset Police

Accused fundraiser: "I just feel totally insulted"

Former soldier and endurance athlete Mike Buss described how his life collapsed around the time of his arrest on suspicion of fraud. He had tried to take his own life, by overdosing on pills and slashing his wrists before his arrest.

He said he was innocent, and he felt there was a campaign against him in Swindon.

In the witness box, he told the jury: "I just feel totally insulted. It's not just any old charity but charities that are close to me. I was a soldier. I still consider myself a soldier. I needed support. I am disgusted with the way people have found me guilty before I was even charged."

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