London: Simpkin Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd., 1895. Octavo, original blue cloth. Early owner signature to blank flyleaf, ex-seminary library: call numbers to spine, ink stamps, card pocket to rear endpaper, slight lean to spine, marginal spotting to text. A bright, sharp-cornered copy. Very good indeed. Item #895
"A DEED OF DESECRATION AND OF BLOOD PERPETRATED IN THE EVIL DAYS WHICH BROUGHT RUIN TO THE MOST FAMOUS SANCTUARY ON ENGLISH SOIL" First edition of the English Benedictine's account of the martyrdom of Blessed Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of the ancient Glastonbury Abbey. As David Knowles maintains: "Even when all legends, Arimathean, Arthurian and the rest, have been shorn away it remains certain that a church of immemorial antiquity--the watlle vetus eclesia--existed." Gasquet stresses the ancient Christian legends associated with Glastonbury: "Here and here alone on English soil, we are linked, not only to the beginnings of English Christianity, but to the beginnings of Christianity itself." Sheltered in a remote corner of Somerset, the Benedictine sanctuary became one of the wealthiest and most influential monastic houses in England. Richard Whiting had been Abbot of Glastonbury for about a decade when the dissolution of the monasteries began in 1536. After refusing to surrender the abbey, the elderly abbot, now in his 70's, was quickly condemned on murky charges following a dubious trial. Accompanied by two of his monks (Dom John Thorne and Dom Roger James), Abbot Whiting was hung, drawn, and quartered (apparently at the top of Glastonbury Tor) in November 1539. Published to coincide with the May 1895 beatification of Abbot Whiting by Pope Leo XIII, this copy is stamped "with publishers' compliments" on the title page. Though Aidan Gasquet was eventually elevated to the cardinalate in 1914, the methods and conclusions of the Benedictine historian have been questioned by many later historians, including David Knowles, Eamon Duffy, and G.G. Coulton. The text is preceded with Gasquet's lengthy Latin dedication and illustrated with a chromolithographed frontispiece (captioned, "The Arms of Richard Whiting, the Last Abbot of Glastonbury"), along with black-and-white photographic plates and numerous photographs and sketched vignettes throughout the text. With two appendixes and an erratum leaf between the second appendix and the index. Knowles, Monastic Sites from the Air.