A Trip to The Chalice Well Garden

White Tulip at The Chalice Well Garden

The Tilly Greenway books are unusual in that whilst they weave in and out of fantasy, the action takes place in the “real world”. Tilly and Zack, the main protagonists of our tale, visit lots of interesting sites in Wales and England in Book One, including Skenfrith Castle, King Arthur’s Stone, Avebury, Silbury Hill and Glastonbury.

One of these sites is the Chalice Well Garden. Tucked into the lee of the famous Tor at Glastonbury, the garden is a place of tranquility, even in today’s busy world. With the Red Well springing up inside the garden and the White Well just outside its walls, pilgrims have journeyed to this spot for many hundreds – probably thousands – of years. (Red and White having long been colours of sacredness).

Here is a picture of the Red Spring. You can see how the water has stained the stones red.

The Red Spring at the Chalice Well Garden

Here it is in close-up. It looks uncannily like dragon-skin to me, which is appropriate when you know that Tilly and Zack arrive at the gardens riding on a pair of dragons!

Water in the Red Spring at the Chalice Well Garden

Recently I was contacted by a twelve year old girl called Zoe who emailed me from Australia to let me know that she had just finished reading Watchers and it is now her “favourite book”. You can imagine how wonderful it was to hear that! Zoe also told me that she and her parents were about to visit England for a week and asked if we could meet. I picked Glastonbury as the perfect spot.

The George and Pilgrim, Glastonbury

After lunch in the George and Pilgrim (the oldest inn in the country, which also features in Watchers) we sauntered around some of the crystal shops before walking to the Chalice Well Garden, a scene of great importance in Tilly and Zack’s first adventure.

From the Chalice Well Garden you can look up at the Tor. Here is Zoe in the garden, with the Tor in the background.

Zoe in the Chalice Well Garden with the Tor behind her

Some of you will not have read the book yet so I shan’t spoil the story for you by telling you what happens there, but it was a lot of fun to visit the place with Zoe and to share some of the real locations that she had, until then, only read about in the story.

Here we are, standing under one of the garden’s ancient yew trees.

One significant change had taken place since I had last visited the Garden: the Holy Thorn (said to be grown from a sprig of hawthorn brought to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea) which magically blossomed at Christmas as well as during the summer, had blown down during the storms.

There are other Holy Thorns in the area, but it was still a shock to see the empty ground where the old tree had once grown. Tilly’s tale will be one of the many things that pays tribute to the now-lost tree.

At this time of year there was just a smattering of colour in the garden, but it still holds a peculiar magic. We’ll revisit it again sometime, but for now I’ll leave you with some of the images from that day, which was a special one for me.

Crab Apple at the Chalice Well Garden

More Crab Apple Blossom

With Zoe and her Mum, Nicky

Chalice Well Angel

Chalice Cowslips

Close-up of the Red Spring

My thanks and gratitude go to my friend Helen, who made the meeting with Zoe and her Mum possible and was such a star, driving into London and then all the way down to Glastonbury to bring them to the West Country. Thanks Helen! It was lovely to see both you and Ella again. 🙂

11 thoughts on “A Trip to The Chalice Well Garden

  1. solsticedreamer says:

    that is just so lovely! Zoe must have been on cloud nine for the day~how very special 🙂

  2. How exciting for you to meet a fan all the way from Australia! For Zoe, I’m sure it was an experience she will never forget! What a perfect day for both of you to share such a special place and time. The pictures are gorgeous, and you’re right, the water does look like dragon scales. 🙂

    • essitolling says:

      It really does…which is something I missed when I was writing Watchers. We were really lucky with the weather, too: pelting with rain as I arrived in Glastonbury, but it cleared whilst we were having lunch and was perfect Tor-climbing fare at just the right time.

  3. Zoe says:

    We had an absolutely wonderful day. The gardens at Chalice Wells were beautiful and the Tor blew me away (literally – it was so windy!). I can’t thank Essi enough for taking the time to spend with us. It was a very special day. I can’t wait for my next trip to Glastonbury.

    • essitolling says:

      Great to hear from you, Zoe. I’m so glad you enjoyed the day. Me too! Yes, it’s quite often blowy up there on the Tor…especially at the bit where the path narrows. Like Tilly, I’m not great with heights…

      Let me know when you’re next over in England. Perhaps we could meet at the Avebury Stones next time? If you go back to Glastonbury, check out the Dragon’s Eggs – one in the Abbey grounds and the other on the Tor.

      Best of luck with everything – and say Hi and thanks again to yr Mum and Aunty for making the visit possible. It was great to meet you all.

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