An old wooden church in Glastonbury rose on the site of the Abbey church taking its place after a fire burnt it. This old church is traditionally considered to have been the eldest church in England, founded by Joseph of Arimathea after landing upon the British shore. Such a legend, probably spread after the Norman Conquests by the Abbey monks who needed to fund the monastery, also relates that Joseph planted his staff upon the highest hill in Glastonbury, and the staff grew branches and roots, transforming into a wonderful thorn tree which, unlike common thorns, bloomed twice a year, once in May, as usual for the species, the other at Christmas. Even today the Crown receives a twig from the Glastonbury thorn each year at Christmas, connecting the plant with the heritage of the English Crown. Since it can be proven that Tolkien was aware of the legend, I propose to ponder the chances he might have been inspired therefrom in the conception of the White Tree of Gondor and all trees descending from the Two Trees of Valinor.
Costabile, Giovanni Carmine
"The Holy Thorn of Glastonbury and the Two Trees of Valinor,"
Journal of Tolkien Research: Vol. 18:
1, Article 9.
Available at: https://scholar.valpo.edu/journaloftolkienresearch/vol18/iss1/9