Gloucester Cathedral is a stunning building and the best tourist attraction in the city. We consider it to be the centrepiece of the city; it has a very interesting history. The Cathedral is one of the top tourist attractions in the city and the county, for excellent reasons. The site has had many visitors throughout history, including Henry VII and Anne Boleyn in 1535.
The Architecture of the building is very grand, and its size is very dominant. Inside, the building is stunning and loads to see. You can also learn about the rich history of the building, nearly 1000 years of history in fact.
They formerly knew Gloucester Cathedral as the Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity. The magnificent structure is in the city’s north and near to the River Severn. Parts of the cathedral date back to 678 or 679, in particular the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter.
Made famous by the Harry Potter Movies are the Cloisters of the cathedral. These are corridors that surround the cloister garden and are absolutely stunning. Gloucester’s great Cloister is known for its magnificent fan vaulting, which is understood to be the earliest example in England.
Originally the cloisters were to house the monks of the area. These provided all the space a monk needs to live, sleep, work and meditate. Traditionally cloisters are on the south side of religious buildings, however, this is unique as they are towards the north. These are fantastic to visit and a treat for photographers because of the light coming in through the cloisters windows. All three are very ornate and fascinating to study if you have the time and its quiet.
The Secret Garden
Boxed in by the three cloisters and the principal building is the Secret Garden. This is a very relaxing place to sit and admire the buildings. Note it is also one of the best places to photograph the main tower.
If you are lucky, you may see peregrine falcons flying near the tower. They built the Tower in the 1450s. It is home to a medieval bell called “Great Peter”. The bell is used to announce time still in the city, and to summon residents to worship. This garden features in the movie, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.
The cathedral is a magnificent building to admire from the outside, also the grounds outside are a nice place to sit and admire. There is plenty of seating and a nicely maintained garden. The grounds are a great place to sit and have an alfresco lunch in the city centre. It is not uncommon for people to grab lunch from a nearby sandwich shop or chippy and enjoy an alfresco lunch here.
Inside on the wall is a memorial for the freemasons of Gloucestershire that fell in the “Great War”. The plague is instantly recognisable by the square and compasses symbol towards the top. People know the freemasons as a secret men-only society with unique rituals. Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons. Towards the end of the 14th century, these regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their business.
St Michaels Gate & College Court
Between Westgate Street and the cathedral is College Court, possibly the most attractive shopping street in Gloucester. At the cathedral end of College Court, is St Michaels Gate. St Michaels Gate is a 14th-century pedestrian gateway in the former precinct wall of the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter, which is now the Cathedral. Throughout history, it has had many names such as the Gate to College Court, Upper College Gate, and Cemetery Gate.
Other interesting sites of historical interest located very near to the Cathedral.
Bishop Hooper Memorial
Located a short walk from Gloucester Cathedral is the Bishop Hooper Memorial, a pretty monument in St Mary’s Square. The best way to find this is by passing through Saint Mary’s Gate to the west of the cathedral. You can find this in the gardens of St Mary de Lode Church and is quite impressive.
The monument commemorates Bishop Hooper who they burnt at the stake in 1555. They killed him because of his protestant religious beliefs. They built this memorial in between the years of 1861-63. The monument includes a statue of the bishop facing to the east, and has many decorative features.
St Nicholas Church, Gloucester
On Lower Westgate Street is the historic St Nicholas Church, however, this is overlooked by visitors because of the cathedral. This church has a fascinating history, the tour guides here are top-notch and very knowledgeable. The church’s history started in the 12 century. They damaged it during the English civil war, specifically during the siege of Gloucester.
The church has many great artefacts, including a replica 14th sanctuary knocker (the Original is in the museum). People who used to knock to claim sanctuary in the church, a medieval safe space, used this knocker.
St Oswald’s Priory
St. Oswald’s Priory is located a short walk away and is an interesting set of ruins to visit. Lady Aethelflaed of Mercia, who was the daughter of Alfred the Great, at around 900AD found it. They originally built the priory using recycled Roman stones. Originally the site was a Christian burial site, but in 909AD they brought the relics of St Oswald here. Subsequently, they dedicated the building to St Oswald.