Glastonbury Holy Thorn for a new Era

Glastonbury Holy Thorn, Crataegus monogyna ‘biflora’ at Kew Gardens. Photo credit: David Hawgood CC via geograph.

Glastonbury has a new Holy Thorn tree thanks to the horticultural expertise of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. I am delighted to give an update on last year’s blog about the Somerset tradition of sending a sprig of the Holy Thorn to the British monarch at Christmas.

Glastonbury and the Monarchy

A new Holy Thorn was planted this September in memoriam of Queen Elizabeth II and to honour our new King Charles III. James Montague, The Bishop of Bath and Wells, started the Christmas tradition of sending a flowering sprig in the time of James I (1566-1625). The tree became closely associated with the monarchy and the rise and fall of Catholicism and Protestantism in Britain. Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads chopped the Holy Thorn down. The local people protected cuttings and the tradition returned with the Restoration of the monarchy with Charles II. Now as we enter a new Carolean era, Glastonbury has sent King Charles III a Holy Thorn sprig this Christmas.

Vandalism and Survival

Oliver Cromwell is not the only vandal of the Glastonbury Thorn. The poor tree on Wearyall Hill has been repeatedly vandalised. Now, the local people protect the trees more closely in the town itself. Both Kew Gardens and Oxford Botanic Gardens have supplied new trees over the years due to modern-day vandalism. The latest tree planted at St Dunstan’s House was supplied by Kew Gardens. It comes from a scion of the tree vandalised on Wearyall Hill.

2022’s Ceremony

On 14th December 2022, the eldest child at Primary School, 7-year-old Eris Collins Diaz cut a flowering sprig of the Glastonbury Thorn for King Charles III’s Christmas dining table. Thus, she continued the tradition that was carried out throughout his mother’s, Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. (Below are previous blogs about Glastonbury’s Holy Thorn including one on my attendance at the event in 2021. There is also a video of this year’s event by Glastonbury Gabriel).

Previous Blogs on the Glastonbury Holy Thorn

References and Further Reading


Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited

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