St Oswold's Anglo-Saxon Minster & Medieval Priory

St Oswald’s Priory, some historical ruins in Gloucester

St Oswald’s Priory is located not far from Gloucester Cathedral on Archdeacon Street. The priory is easy to spot if walking towards the old Cattle Market site. I have passed many times and had a quick look but this time. I had a good read of the notice and look around at the ruins.

The remaining wall at the site incorporates remnants of the church, its a relaxing place to sit on one of the benches in the park.

This site is also Where Athelfled and Ethelred where buried and also where Althelstan; the first king of England was educated. Its historical importance is massive.

St Oswald’s Anglo-Saxon Minster & Medieval Priory

St. Oswald’s Priory was founded by Lady Aethelflaed of Mercia, daughter of Alfred the Great, at around 900AD. The original build was done using recycled Roman stones. Originally the site was a Christian burial site but in 909AD the relics of St Oswald were taken here. The building was then dedicated to St Oswald.

In the centuries that followed St Oswald’s grew rich as it had become a place of pilgrimage and was at the centre of a large parish.

By the time of the Norman Conquest, the church was in decline. It was taken over by the Archbishopric of York and its secular canons replaced by Augustinian ones in 1153.

In 1548 it became the parish church of St. Catherine. For a while, it was a highly popular place of worship. But then came the English Civil War and the Siege of Gloucester. The building was mostly destroyed by Royalist cannon fire. This church was eventually demolished in 1653 and the stone was used to rebuild a new market house.

What Wikipedia Says?

St Oswald’s Priory was founded by Æthelflæd, daughter of Alfred the Great As well as her husband Æthelred, ealdorman of Mercia, in the late 880s or the 890s. St Peter’s Abbey had been founded in Gloucester about 679 by Osric, ruler of the Hwicce, and at the end of the ninth century, Æthelflæd and Æthelred founded a new minster at a different location in Gloucester, also initially dedicated to St Peter. In 909 a combined West Saxon and Mercian raid into Danish territory resulted in the translation of the bones of St Oswald to the new church from Bardney Abbey in Lincolnshire, and the priory was renamed St Oswald’s in his honour.

St Oswald’s, founded when Gloucester was an important new burh, at first enjoyed royal favour, and both Æthelflæd and Æthelred were buried there. Æthelflæd’s nephew, the future King Æthelstan, was brought up at their court, and according to a charter only preserved in a transcript dating from 1304, in 925 Æthelstan granted privileges to St Oswald’s “according to a pact of paternal piety which formerly he pledged with Æthelred”.[4] Æthelstan was a major benefactor of St Oswald’s. Also he may have commissioned grave covers for the tombs of Æthelflæd and Æthelred.

However, the priory soon declined into obscurity. Late in the reign of King Cnut, its estates were used as an endowment for a royal clerk. In 1089 Serlo, the Norman abbot of the original St Peter’s began an ambitious new church (later Gloucester Cathedral). This was to replace the old minster, and St Oswald’s. Its emoluments much reduced, became a minor house of Augustinian canons. The monastery was suppressed in 1536. It then became the parish church of St Catherine, but this was destroyed in a Civil War siege in 1643.,_Gloucester

Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery

Items from the priory are in Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery.

Further Reading

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