A very fine, tall tower helps this town church to hold its own among its more famous neighbours, Glastonbury Tor and the abbey ruins.
Several buildings were constructed on the summit during the Saxon and early medieval periods; they have been interpreted as an early church and monks hermitage. The head of a wheel cross dating from the 10th or 11th century has been recovered. The original wooden church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1275, and the stone church of St Michael built on the site in the 14th century. Its tower remains, although it has been restored and partially rebuilt several times.
In 1786, Richard Colt Hoare of Stourhead bought the Tor and funded repair of the tower in 1804, including the rebuilding of the north east corner. It passed through several generations to Reverend George Neville, when it was then bought as a memorial to a former Dean of Wells, Thomas Jex-Blake, who died in 1915.
The National Trust took control of the Tor in 1933, but repairs were delayed until after the Second World War. After 2000, enhancements to the access and repairs to the tower, including rebuilding of the parapet, were carried out.
Archaeological excavations during the 20th century sought to clarify the background of the monument and church, but some aspects of their history remain unexplained. The Tor is mentioned in Celtic mythology, particularly in myths linked to King Arthur, and has a number of other enduring mythological and spiritual associations.
In William Blake’s poem Jerusalem, could he be talking about Glastonbury Tor when he asks:
'And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?'