Electors voting in European election - Muchleney Abbey one of the oldest polling stations in England

Yeovil Express: Stephen Honey of English Heritage prepares to open Muchelney Abbey to voters. Stephen Honey of English Heritage prepares to open Muchelney Abbey to voters.

VOTES have been cast in the European elections at one of England’s oldest polling stations.

The 14th Century Abbot’s Lodgings at Muchelney is the oldest public building in the South-West being used for voting in today’s poll.

A monastery was first founded on the site as early as 693AD and for centuries it has been a landmark of the Somerset Levels.

The abbey is no stranger to elections and the world of politics - as the home of wealthy Benedictine monks, Muchelney saw many abbots voted into office and its final years as a monastery read as a tale of bribery and corruption.

Site manager Stephen Honey said: “With its romantic ruins and idyllic location, you might find the abbey’s politically charged past rather unexpected.

“The last Abbot, Thomas Inde, is said to have ensured his electoral success with a comprehensive smear campaign against his opponent – as well as a substantial bribe to the king’s agent, Thomas Cromwell.

“Thankfully things have moved on since then! It’s great to be amongst the country’s oldest polling stations, and it’s a really good opportunity for local residents to revisit the abbey and discover its past.”

The English Heritage-run site is the second oldest religious foundation in Somerset - its principal buildings were demolished as part of the dissolution by Henry VIII in 1538.

Today visitors can still see the clearly laid out foundations of the abbey, parts of the richly decorated cloister walk and thatched monks’ lavatory- the only one of its kind in Britain.

*The results of the election in the South-West are expected to be announced at midnight on Sunday.

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