The origins of Glaston Centre Ltd (GCL) go back to 1985 when a small group of people were inspired with the vision of re-creating Glastonbury as the great centre of learning, teaching and spirituality that it had been in the Middle Ages. This time however it would be a centre appropriate to the 21st century.
The privately owned Glastonbury Experience complex of buildings (GE) became the ideal base and over the next few years the Library of Avalon, the Isle of Avalon Foundation, the Brigit Chapel, and the Goddess Temple were established and based in the GE. At the same time, a number of other ideas were explored including a Pilgrim Reception Centre and a Sanctuary, but these were not actively taken forward.
In 1992 a new charity, the Glastonbury Trust (The Trust) was established with the purpose of:
Setting up a centre offering help, guidance, teaching, training and healing on all aspects of spiritual growth and ecological awareness.
In 1998 the buildings of the GE were donated to the Trust. Since then the Trust has carried out its purpose by renting out the ground floor premises of the GE to a balanced range of businesses, all in harmony with its objectives, and has used the income so generated to support the charities established on its upper floors.
The Isle of Avalon Foundation is one such organisation and began life in 1991 as The University of Avalon. In 1995 it changed its name to The Isle of Avalon Foundation. Today, the Foundation runs a wide variety of educational programmes and courses and has certainly increased its portfolio since those early, visionary days and continues to enthusiastically promote the study and exploration of contemporary spiritual education and personal development for everyone on the seeker’s path.
In 2007, a group of passionate and interested people came together to explore the formation of a centre that could offer support to visitors from all over the world, interested in the unique and diverse aspects of Glastonbury. Elisabeth Tham, Ingelise Jensen, Morgana West, Pauline Ross, Jane Sanders set up a formally constituted Association and Glastonbury Pilgrim Reception Centre (now known as Glastonbury Reception Centre and Sanctuary) first opened its doors to the public at 1a Church Lane in 2008, its ethos to pro-actively support people of good heart and intentions from all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds. In 2009, it moved to its current location at 10b High Street.
In due course, the centre identified that not only was it supporting visitors but also resident pilgrims and responded by adapting its services accordingly. Over time, the faith and beliefs communities, plus the civic and secular communities began to recognise that this organisation was a valuable and much-needed link between the diverse individuals and organisations within the town.
In 2010, due to rapidly growing expansion, a new not-for-profit Company Limited by Guarantee, known as Glaston Centre Ltd (GCL) was set up to take over the existing Association.
GCL continues the work of the Reception Centre in its premises at 10B High Street. Recently, the activities of GCL have started to expand in a significant manner and it is now involved in academic research, teaching, information, support, networking and bridge-building. In all of these activities it is the aim of GCL to work in harmony and cooperation with others providing similar services in Glastonbury - to offer services that are complementary to those being offered, and to avoid unnecessary competition and conflict of interest.
The increasing range of services offered has meant that it is no longer possible to run these out of the Reception Centre and new offices have been established at 8 Market Place where the administration and supervision of all GCL activities is handled. These premises are part of the Glastonbury Experience complex and this means that GCL is able to have a close working relationship with the Glastonbury Trust and the other charitable activities based in these buildings.
GCL, as a not-for-profit organisation, is supported by a combination of income from sales, in its shop in the Reception Centre and online, from events organised, from administrative support delivered to various activities and from donations and funding from private individuals and institutions.
The current directors of GCL are:
2007 - present
Glastonbury Therapists’ Forum
2008 - present
Glastonbury Reception Centre & Sanctuary
2008 - present
Faiths & Paths in Glastonbury
2010 - present
The Glastonbury Unity Candle
Glastonbury 2012 – A Celebration of Harmony and Healing
The Glastonbury Peace Pole
2013 - present
Glaston Centre School of Learning
An Avalonian Anthem
2015 - present
The Research Project
2015 – present