The walks site consists of two parcels: the Foundry Pond site which is owned by the Town of Hingham, and the Glastonbury Abbey site which is privately owned by the Abbey. The Foundry Pond/Glastonbury Abbey site is located between Kilby Street and residential property on the west, the Greenbush Railroad line on the south, Hull Street on the east, and private property and Rockland Street on the north. The Foundry Pond and Abbey parcels are separated by Weir Street which runs from north to south between the parcels.

Both Native Americans and colonists used weirs to catch herring, and that’s how the river got its name. The Weir River runs through Hingham, and is fed from the south by Accord Brook, which flows from Accord Pond to the Weir River and on into the Weir River Estuary. The estuary connects the Weir River from the Foundry Pond Dam and Straits Pond to Hingham Bay at the northern end of World’s End in Hingham and Sunset Point in Hull. The herring run at Foundry Pond is impacted by upstream water withdrawals that lower streamflow in the summer and fall when juvenile herring are migrating downstream. In addittion, the dam and its fish ladder are not ideal for fish passage.

A large expanse of granite is located on both the Foundry Pond and Glastonbury Abbey properties east of the Weir River/Foundry Pond. Foundry Pond was created by damming the Weir River, most likely in the late 18th Century. The dam was used sequentially to power the Hingham Malleable Iron Company (1840-1876) and Colonel Weston’s wool processing factory (until 1888). They were each destroyed by fire. Most of the area east of the pond to Weir Street was used as a granite quarry. The Sportsman’s Club acquired the pond for fishing and later sold the 32-acre parcel to the Town of Hingham.

The railroad along the west side of the properties, now known as the Greenbush Line, was constructed in 1849. As a result of the construction, Weir Street, which ran from East Street to Rockland Street was blocked at the railroad crossing. The Weir River was directed through a culvert, further disrupting fish migration.

The Abbey property was once the Hingham summer estate of wool merchant William Skilton. Mr. Skilton had his residence on the north side of the railroad tracks near Hull Street. At this location he had a rail siding where he kept his personal rail coach. Skilton, a bachelor, died in the early 1930s. The estate had been used as an inn and dance parlor, bachelor officers’ quarters for the town’s WW II Navy Ammunition Depot, and a day camp.

The Benedictine Fathers bought the Glastonbury Abbey Property in 1963. Glastonbury Abbey was founded in 1954 by Benet Lake Abbey, Wisconsin. Both of these monasteries belong to the family of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation which is part of the world-wide Benedictine Confederation. Benedictine monasticism takes its roots in the life of Saint Benedict (480-547 A.D.), patriarch of western monasticism and has flourished in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas. The life of a monastery centers on prayer and contemplation but also practices hospitality to its many guests. The Benet Lake monks named the new monastery for the famous medieval English abbey that by tradition is associated with the King Arthur legends. (The original Glastonbury Abbey was closed by King Henry VIII in 1539.)

After purchasing the property in 1963, the abbey started with “five or six” monks who lived and worked in the residence and former carriage house of the estate. In its early years, Glastonbury conducted a Latin School for seminarians. In 1975 a retreat ministry was begun. The retreat program opened in 1975, with the addition of rooms in a former nursing home just down the road. They bought a second nearby house in 1974, and in 2001 opened the Morcone Conference Center for lectures and other events, including family gatherings and wedding receptions. In 2006 the abbey church was renovated and enlarged to give greater emphasis to worship and allow more worshippers to visit. The abbey now includes 40 acres and eight buildings.
Features on the Glastonbury property include a small labyrinth, a 70-foot, stone observation tower, a cemetery and a community garden. A sizable group of lay volunteers helps the monks tend to the community garden and gather the produce, which is donated to Hull’s Wellspring social services agency and other food pantries. There are also bee hives and a family of goats, brought in by the abbey’s longtime chef to produce honey and cheese. Also, on the Glastonbury property trails through the woods, there are benches and monuments

On the Foundry Pond property there are interesting fish and vegetation. Some of the fish that might be found in the pond include river herring, smelt, brown trout (stocked from Europe), brook trout, largemouth bass, redfin pickerel, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish and American eel. The forest here is composed of pine, oak and cedar, plus some bittersweet and holly. There is also marshland, with plenty of cattails. Deer hunting is permitted on the Town property from October 19 to November 28, but only with a Special Permit from the Hingham Conservation Commission.

Access to the Foundry Pond trails is on Weir Street. Traveling east on Rockland Street, after passing Kilby Street, turn onto either Cherry Street or Canterbury Street onto Weir Street. Travel south on Weir Street passing a pond on the left. The entrance to Foundry Pond, which is marked by a sign, is on the right, 100+/- feet before coming to a gate across Weir Street. Park on the side of the road without blocking access to the entrance gate or through traffic. Access to Glastonbury Abbey is via a parking lot on the Abbey property. The lot is on the west side of the street, north of the railroad crossing, across from 27 Hull Street. Access, from Kilby Street on the west side of the pond, principally used for fishing, is located between 97 and 101 Kilby Street.

Beginning at the parking lot, facing away from Hull Street, the 1.3 mile route follows the road at the left corner of the parking lot, straight uphill to a T intersection. The road to the right goes to the rear of the Morcone Conference Center. The route turns left facing a monument marking the stations of the cross then turns right toward the stone tower at the top of the hill. After turning right the route passes 2 monuments on the left and a monument and a bench on the right. Nearing the top of the hill the road curves to the left and passes the tower on the left. Next to the tower at a fork in the road, the route turns to the right. At this corner on the right is a spur path to the cemetery. Continue straight past a community garden on the left and go downhill. After passing hills on the left and a trail on the right the road continues to the left through a split and passes a bench on the right. Approximately 20 yards past the bench turn right onto a trail.

Keep to the right as the trail passes between hills and curves to the left (west) and continues with more hills to the left and wetlands to the right. Continue along the trail, with other trails entering from the hills on the left, while passing the wetlands on the right, until you come to the end of a pond. At the end of the pond a rocky trail goes downhill to the right towards the edge of the pond. At this point the route continues with the shore of the pond on the right and with uplands and connecting trails on the left. At a couple of locations the trail is covered with water requiring hikers to detour uphill of the trail. The trail ends at Weir Street.

Turn left at Weir Street. The paved road rises uphill passing houses on both sides of the street and passing a sign on the right marking the Foundry Pond Area entrance. The road then passes through a gate limiting vehicle access beyond the gate. The road passes a chain link fence on the right with views of the deactivated Foundry Pond Area quarries. On the left Weir Street comes to a gated roadway entrance to the Glastonbury Property. Turn left through the iron gate and back onto the Glastonbury property. The road passes trails on the left, coming to a pile of wood chips on the right and a crossing trail. Turn right onto the crossing trail which is marked by a blue arrow. Continue into the pine woods passing a bench on the right and turning right onto a trail marked by a blue arrow. The route goes past a picnic table on the left and another overlook on the right and curves to the left with views down to the railroad tracks and Weir Street on the right. The trail then passes a trail on the right and continues to follow a blue arrow to the left. The trail passes a small black stone religious monument and bench on the right. Continue on the path and you will see a community garden ahead of you. Turn right on the road with the garden on your left and right again up another road towards the main road leading to the bell tower. On your right before the main road is a stone labyrinth worth exploring. A slate marker with the inscription “Solvitur Ambulando” (It is solved by walking) marks the trail leading to the labyrinth. After exploring the labyrinth, return to the main road. Follow the road with the cemetary on the left and the tower on your right and head back downhill, turning left and then right returning to the parking lot.

Foundry Pond

Recommended Trail Activities: Walking, Hiking Length: 1.3 Route Type: Trail (Narrow), Path (Medium), Road (Wide) Difficulty (Grade/Surface): Easy, Moderate Parking: Adequate Dog Restrictions: Allowed Ancillary Activities: Snowshoeing, Birding, Hunting (permission may be required), Picnic, Historic Sites

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