We’ll meet again in Avalon, Geoffrey Ashe.

I have a very philosophical bent, almost to the point of annoying optimism. Yet today I can’t shake feeling down. Yesterday I learned of the passing of Geoffrey Ashe, arguably the greatest mind in the realm of Arthurian history, legend, and more. It is his research that inspired me to write The Retreat to Avalon, which became the first book in the historical fiction series, The Arthurian Age.

Geoffrey Thomas Leslie Ashe was born in London in 1923. He lived in Canada for a time, graduating from the University of British Columbia and then Cambridge University with an English degree. As he said, history was an acquired taste, and writing became his main interest. Arthurian subjects were actually a later interest of his, but he was obviously a quick study. With at least thirty-five published books, at least a third of them have an Arthurian or British mythology focus. I think I might have all of them.

Cadbury Castle Camelot Project
Cadbury Castle excavation at the South Gate, 1967

Geoffrey co-founded the Camelot Research Committee with the eminent historian and archeologist, Ralegh Radford, and in 1966 they teamed up with Leslie Alcock, another famed archeologist, to excavate the hillfort at Cadbury Castle. Cadbury Castle had a tradition dating at least to the medieval period, of being King Arthur’s “Camelot”. Of course, Camelot is the Romance version of Arthur’s castle, but for a historical Arthur, Cadbury Castle would be quite appropriate. This was proven when Alcock’s excavations revealed that the hillfort had been extensively re-fortified in Arthur’s time by someone with great resources.

Camelot, the Musical, from 1967

Geoffrey chuckles, pointing out his “one connection to Hollywood”: when Warner Brothers made the 1967 musical film Camelot, they took his advice and during a brief glimpse of a map of Britain, you can see Camelot is in Somerset. I learned this charming anecdote after I had, myself, found his argument convincing, and placed Arthur’s stronghold at Cadbury Castle in my novels.

In 1981, Geoffrey presented the results of his research regarding the historical Arthur in Speculum, the journal of the Medieval Academy of America. As Geoffrey described, he took a new approach to considering the written records and archaeology, and that research was published in 1985 as the fantastic book, The Discovery of King Arthur. In 1987, I was a bored high school student looking for a term paper subject. I need to find the school librarian and thank her for suggesting his book, because that book inspired and intrigued me for the next three decades. I kept waiting for someone to make a movie, or write a novel based on it, until my wise and lovely bride suggested I do it.

Geoffrey receiving the MBE from Queen Elizabeth

Geoffrey has had a number of prestigious awards. In 1963, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2012, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for Services to Heritage, and in 2015, the Glastonbury Town Council made Geoffrey an Honorary Freeman of Glastonbury “in recognition of his eminent services to the place as an author and cultural historian.” He is clearly a rock-star in Glastonbury.

Geoffrey, 3rd from the right, leading a tour of Glastonbury Abbey at Arthur’s gravesite.

Geoffrey continued his research, gave interviews (like this one), participated in talks, conducted tours and held visiting professorships at universities here in the US. That’s how he met his lovely wife, Patricia, a professor at the University of North Alabama. They married and lived at the Chalice Orchard below the peak of Glastonbury Tor. They absolutely radiated a love and appreciation for each other.

Tea, scones, and fascinating chats!

We were so honored to visit Geoffrey and Patricia in 2016, and were introduced to our first English tea experience. Love the scones with cream and jam! Or was it with jam and cream?

Geoffrey and Pat are so gracious, kind and friendly. It was fascinating to learn more about them, and to discuss history and Arthurian legend. I didn’t want to leave, but I subdued my inner-fangirl and made sure we didn’t impose on them too long. They both corresponded with me over the years, and Geoffrey even gave an endorsement for my first book. Writing a story that did his work justice was my goal, so that was the best review I could have hoped for.

I’ve had a desire to write stories since I was in grade-school. I dabbled, even wrote quite a bit on an unfinished novel based on my time working as a drug investigator in Germany. But the moment I set out to write about Arthur – Riothamus and the war in Gaul, I was consumed. It took almost five years to research and write The Retreat to Avalon. In the end, I not only completed a manuscript, but published my first novel and the publisher asked me to turn it into a trilogy. I’ve since published the second book in the series, The Strife of Camlann.

I dedicated The Strife of Camlann to Geoffrey. Without him, I may never have found the inspiration to actually become a writer. For a kid who grew up dreaming of other times and places, this is a dream come true. Thank you, so much, Geoffrey.

Pat said Geoffrey passed peacefully in his sleep after a night reading and discussing a book by C.S. Lewis with her. She also said that the last thing Geoffrey had written, about a week ago, was an email to me. Oh. Oh, my. . . I had been so ecstatic to read it, how he was pleased with the sequel, and that he looked forward to talking about it more when we next visited. We planned on seeing them both in September. I hope we can still visit Pat when the time is right. Until then, we wish all the love and comfort possible for Pat, their family, and all who loved them.

Jenn and I were only a very tiny part of Geoffrey’s beautiful world, but the little part I have been fortunate to share is one of the great blessings of my life. I will be forever thankful. God Bless, Geoffrey. I look forward to seeing you again in time. I have a feeling you’ll finally be able to tell us how you were right all along.

Geoffrey Ashe at Glastonbury Abbey
Geoffrey at Glastonbury Abbey

21 thoughts on “We’ll meet again in Avalon, Geoffrey Ashe.”

  1. I discovered him when an undergrad, and had been obsessed with all things Arthurian when I discovered he live in Glastonbury and I visit there every year–from the US. I knew where lived, his address and one year before going over, sent a request to meet and have him sign one of my books…SHOCK, he wrote back, agreed and we met at The George And Pilgrim! I met his lovely American wife, she knew my area where I live, and he signed one of his books for me. Another year we met at the little tea shop and had lunch. He and Patricia were so kind. And he was such an amazing, knowledgeable person.
    What sadness when I learned he had passed. But, he left us so much through his works.
    Going back to Glastonbury in late July early August and will walk past his home on my pilgrimage up the Tor.
    Lovely article!!!! So glad to have found this site.

  2. I met Geoffrey whilst attending satsang in the Palace of Peace, a converted cinema in Brixton London.
    Most attendants stayed to get initiated into formal meditation techniques.
    Early seventies.

  3. What a lovely tribute to a remarkable man and historian! Thank you so much for sharing these insights about his life and your photos. I fell in love with the legend of King Arthur, and Richard Harris, when the movie Camelot came out when I was in high school. Many years later, when my children were little, I somehow discovered his historical work. Previous to this time, I had
    no earthly idea that there was archaeological and historical evidence that a fifth century warlord who united Southwest Britain against the Saxons actually could have existed. I was elated and utterly fascinated! I read his book, and took notes, and later, when I was teaching a high school course in the History of Western Civilization, I took a day to offer students Professor Ashe’s research and discoveries, and discuss the facts that led to legends. They were fascinated as well. When my family first traveled to England, I based much of our trip on his research, walking atop the tor and climbing up Cadbury hill. When I returned home, I wrote him a fan letter, and we had a short correspondence. I will always treasure it, and I could never believe that a world famous historian would take the time to talk to people who have read his works. He was very gracious. While on an Anglo-Saxon history page on Facebook, I learned from you, Sean, that Geoffrey had passed. I was so sorry to hear it, as I was hoping to visit him on my upcoming trip to Britain. Thank you for continuing his legacy. I’ve read first two books in your Arthurian series and can see Geoffrey all through them. I understand why he was so very proud of you.

    • That is very kind, Vicki, thank you. Geoffrey and his wife, Pat, are some of the nicest people you could hope to meet, and his work was brilliant. That you can see it in my books is a wonderful compliment. I hope to chat more with you! Sean

  4. Sadly, I don’t tend to keep up with ‘comings and goings’ of people, even those who live nearby to me. But, I have been a life long ‘girl’ obsessed with the Arthurian world and mythology and history. Eventually as my interest evolved from reading about to studying, I found the works by Geoffrey and I was down the rabbit hole. When I found out by happenstance where he actually lived, imagine me, a week each year visitor to Glastonbury for year and years, to know I walked right beside his home…So I did what any self-respecting fan-girl would do…I sent a very cheeky request; could we meet and he please sign a book for me? He said YES! I got to meet him in the George And Pilgrim, have a photo taken, and his lovely wife Pat, and got a book signed, he actually told me which one he’d prefer to sign…I happen to have had it…Glory Days for sure.
    But, being across the pond, I just don’t tend to keep up. But, today for some reason, Geoffrey was on my mind. And I Googled, and found your lovely post. Now, I will reach out, very late to, Pat and offer my condolences. He was certainly a ‘god’ in the Arthurian pantheon, in my opinion. As well as being kind, lovely, gracious, and remarkably intelligent.
    Thank you for this lovely tribute to Geoffrey. He actually said I could call him that!

  5. Not being much of one for ‘current events’ I have only just learned that we lost Geoffrey, a sad day indeed. I was always so impressed by his style: open minded yet invariably sober and academic in its tone. It was indeed one of the most convincing things about his work. From the first time I read The Ancient Wisdom and Avalonian Quest, then later Dawn Behind the Dawn I was inspired by the extraordinary ideas contained within those pages. “A connection between Somerset and Central Asia?” many would scoff “surely not?” yet Geoffrey made this sound not only plausible but eminently believable in his usual undramatic yet compelling way. Those ideas have inspired me in my own work ever since and will continue to do so. R.I.P.

  6. This was such a beautiful post and Sir Geoffrey was such an honorable and exquisite Arthurian scholar! He could have as well been a member of the Inklings, according to what he knew in terms of British medieval history! What an amazing man! May he rest in peace and may the two of you meet in Avalon! Much respect for your work and much peace and many blessings your way! 😊 🙏

    Victor – a British medieval history enthusiast and anglophile

      • I truly think so as well! Sir Geoffrey was a great history scholar and a wonderful man! All the best, take care, stay safe, much health, and keep up the good work! Have a great evening!


  7. I know Chris and I was also for three issue editor of Pendragon before I was called away to work in Japan. Geoffrey Ashe inspire many folk with an interest in Arthurian studies. I began my interest after reading Ashe’s ‘From Caesar to Arthur’ and had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing him in the 1980.

    Geoffrey Ashe was the son of Arthur William Isaac Ashe and Thelma Sydney Hoodles. When Geoffrey was 15 the family moved to Canada and he graduated from university first in Vancouver and then in Cambridge, UK. On the same ship returning to the UK in 1946 was his first wife: Dorothy Irene Train, from Ontario. (I had the pleasant of meeting her in the 1980s.) They had two sons – Thomas and John – before returning to Canada where Geoffrey was an administrative assistant at Ford of Canada. Two further children were born in Canada – Michael and Sheila – before the family moved to the UK. Later a fourth son – Brendan was born in 1958. Geoffrey was a management studies lecturer at London Polytechnic before becoming a full-time author. Dorothy died in 1991 and Geoffrey remarried in 1992 to Maxine Lefever (they later divorced) and in 1998 he married Dr. Patricia Chandler, from Florence, Alabama.

    Geoffrey Ashe is best known for his Arthurian books but he also wrote a number of interesting publication, including a novel.

  8. I came here from Geoffrey’s Wikipedia entry after a former acquaintance told me of Geoffrey’s passing. I’d met him when I joined the Pendragon Society in the mid1960s, of which he was then President, and we subsequently met a few more times until we lost contact in the 1980s or 90s.

    It was King Arthur’s Avalon which inspired Mrs Jess Foster to found the Pendragon Society in 1959, and I edited the society’s journal on and off until we called it a day in our 50th year.

    Geoffrey was hugely inspirational for our thinking, and though we didn’t always agree on points of common interest I can’t deny he was massively important in popularising Arthur as a suitable figure for historical debate as well of significance for the mass of legend that had accumulated around him over the centuries.

    Some background is here: https://wp.me/P2oNj1-49

    • Thank you for that glimpse into Geoffrey’s life, Mr. Lovegrove. I can only imagine the great conversations you all had. I would love to chat more in the future, if you care to.
      Best wishes,


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.