JUN 29,2016 - JUN 29,2016 (1 DAYS)
Main Attractions: The Cross, the New Inn, St John's church at St Lucy's Gardens, Gloucester Cathedral, Bishop's Monument, Alney Island nature reserve, The Quay, Glocester Park, Greyfriars Priory, Eastgate Market, Statue of Marcus Cocceius Nerva Augustus, Blackfriars Priory, St. Nicholas Church, Folk Museum, The Cross.
Start: Eastgate Street x Brunswick Road. End: The Cross. Duration: 3/4 - 1 full day.
Weather: you will be surprised - but this itinerary is good also for rainy days (especially, rainy mornings). No doubt about bright day. Gloucester Docks will shine under the sun.
Transportation: Gloucester has good railway connections with London, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff. There is a direct link from Heathrow Airport. Trains from London depart from Paddington Station and have a fastest journey time of 1hr 40 minutes to Gloucester. BUT, nearby Cheltenham has more stopping trains, so it may be necessary to get a train to Cheltenham and change trains for Gloucester. Trains between Cheltenham and Gloucester operate every half hour and take around 10-15 minutes. From London it is 2 hours to Cheltenham. There is a direct link from Birmingham Airport with a fastest journey time of 1hr 15 minutes to Cheltenham and 1 hr 30 minutes to Gloucester.
By bus - your best bet is Stagecoach bus company. Buy 7 GBP daily explorer ticket which entitles you unlimited travel by Stagecoach buses from/to Gloucester and the Cotswolds or other towns around. We recommend, heartily, this option !
History: Gloucester was founded in AD 97 by the Romans under Emperor Nerva as Colonia Glevum Nervensis, Parts of the walls can be traced, and a number of remains and coins have been found, though inscriptions are scarce: Part of the foundations of Roman Gloucester can be seen today in Eastgate Street (near Boots), while Roman tombstones and a range of other Roman artefacts can be seen in Gloucester City Museum. in the late 4th Century the town returned to the control of Celtic Dubonni tribe. Gloucester was captured by the Saxons in 577. Gloucester's core street layout is thought to date back to the reign of Ethelfleda in late Saxon times. In 1051 Edward the Confessor held court at Gloucester. The Norman conquest of England was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army of Norman, Breton, and French soldiers led by Duke William II of Normandy, later styled as William the Conqueror. The Hastings battle marks the formal conquest of England in 14 October 1066. After the Norman Conquest, William Rufus made Robert Fitzhamon the first baron or overlord of Gloucester. It was granted its first charter in 1155 by King Henry II. In 1216 King Henry III, aged only ten years, was crowned with a gilded iron ring in the Chapter House of Gloucester Cathedral. Gloucester's significance in the Middle Ages is underlined by the fact that it had a number of monastic establishments: St Peter's Abbey founded in 679 (later Gloucester Cathedral), the Franciscan Greyfriars community founded in 1231, Dominican Blackfriars community founded in 1239. The main export, during the Middle Ages, was wool which came from the Cotswolds and was processed in Gloucester. in 1378 Richard II king of England established Parliament in the city. You can see the Parliament Rooms at the Cathedral. The well known Siege of Gloucester, during the First English Civil War, in 1643 was a battle of the English Civil War in which the city held out against Royalist forces, and the besieged parliamentary forces emerged victorious. Gloucester Day is commemorated, annually, for celebration of the Siege of Gloucester. In 2015, Gloucester was a host city for the Rugby World Cup. The city has population of more than 152,000 citizens and is the 53rd largest settlement in the United Kingdom.
We start at the most central spot in Gloucester - in Argos shop where two central street intersect: Eastgate Street and Brunswick Road. Note the impressive inscription opposite Argos shop:
From one of the the most central squares in Gloucester we advance north-west along Eastgate Street, heading to The Cross - passing the Eastgate Shopping Centre on our left:
On our right are several historical buildings including Gloucester Guildhall and (the nowadays) TSB Lloyds building. Note their roofs:
In the end of Eastgate Street we arrive the most epic centre of Glocester - The Cross: , where the four main streets of Gloucester (Northgate, Eastgate, Southgate and Westgate Streets) meet. The Cross is also the highest point in the city.
St. Michael's Tower is on the corner of Eastgate and Southgate Streets and the entrance is in Southgate Street. It was built in 1465 on the site of the previous St Michael the Archangel. It is no longer used for religious ceremonies. It has recently been renovated and is now ‘A tower of learning’ – a place where the community and visitors can learn about Gloucester’s rich past, while recording today’s history for future generations to enjoy. Free entry. Open from 3rd April to 30 September. The Tower is also the starting point for our City Tour with a qualified guide, leaving the Tower at 11.00 everyday:
We turn right (north-east) to Northgate Street, and note, immediately on our right the New Inn, 16 Northgate Street. The Inn is entered through a carriage way from Northgate Street. It is the most ancient, still preserved, timber framed house in Gloucester used as hotel and restaurant. There is also a coffee shop and a nightclub which is open most Saturdays. It is the most complete surviving example of a medieval courtyard inn with galleries in Britain, and is a Grade I listed building. The Inn was built in 1450 by John Twyning, a monk, as a hostelry for the former Benedictine Abbey of St Peter. In 1553, King Edward VI died and Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen from the first floor inn gallery.
Further north-east along Northgate Street - turn, a bit, left to St John's Lane to see the Spire of St John's church at St Lucy's Gardens, behind St John's Church Hall in Hare Lane. The top of the steeple of the church was removed for safety reasons in 1910; the church tower and steeple were medieval, the main body of the church was replaced in 1734. There is an information board by the stonework which has been added since 2011:
It is 5 minutes walk from the gardens to Gloucester Cathedral. Head east on St John's Ln, turn left toward College Green, turn left twice along College Green, turn right onto College Green and the cathedral is on your right:
Gloucester Cathedral, 12 College Green, in the north of the city near (formal name: Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity), originates in the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter in 681. Gloucester Cathedral is one of England's finest churches, a masterpiece of medieval architecture consisting of a uniquely beautiful fusion of Norman Romanesque and Perpendicular Gothic from the mid 14th century onwards. Until the Reformation this was merely Gloucester's Abbey of St Peter, under Henry VIII it became one of six former monastic churches to be promoted to cathedral status, thus saving the great church from the ravages of the Dissolution. It is the burial place of King Edward II. The cathedral is Wonderful place definitely worth a visit. Enjoy beautiful architecture, find space to sit inside in silence, contemplate and simply hide from the world. The ceilings and stained glass windows are fantastic. Many films were filmed in the cathedral and you'll observe easily see why. You can spend here 2-3 hours to enjoy the beautiful architecture, lovely stained glass and incredible vaulted cloisters. This cathedral is unique because all along the cathedral walls are plaques that give you information to understand and become aware of past events that took place at the cathedral. Volunteers inside are very welcoming. Free guided tours inside as well.
Important note: The outside is a bit unavailable because of reconstruction in the near future. Although undergoing a major refurbishment, the Cathedral is still an oasis of peace and calm. The repairs might take place also in the interiors.
The Cathedral is open 365 days a year and entry is free. There is a 3 pound charge for taking photos but it is not well displayed - and, practically, it is all free.
The cathedral is 130 m long, 44 m wide and 69 m high (including its tower). It has a fine central tower of the 15th century topped by four delicate pinnacles. The central tower itself is 29m high and can be seen from many kilometres away.
Take a short stroll around the cathedral to capture some wonderful sights around:
Gloucester Cathedral seen between an old Tudor building and a Victorian red brick house:
Church House (the old deanery and former abbot's lodging, now offices, reception rooms, and a restaurant), with a medieval door with wrought iron hinges:
The entrance to the Cathedral:
The nave is massive Norman with an Early English roof; the crypt, under the choir, aisles and chapels, is Norman, as is the chapter house. The nave of the new church was finished around 1121, and is similiar to Tewkesbury Abbey in its use of massive round pillars. These pillars are so huge and imposing that they seem to overwhelm the interior space and almost make the triforium and vaulting into an after-thought:
Note the floor tiles in Nave of Gloucester Cathedral depicting scenes from the Bible:
The most famous tomb in the cathedral is of King Edward II, deposed by his wife Isabella along with her lover Sir Roger Mortimer in 1327. When Edward II was murdered at nearby Berkeley Castle in 1327, three other abbots refused to accept the king's remains, possibly because they disapproved of his reported "unnatural" lifestyle. Thoky accepted the body, risking the displeasure of Edward's many enemies:
There are other interesting historic monuments, including that of Robert, Duke of Normandy, whose vividly painted effigy outshines Edward's. Robert was the eldest son of William the Conqueror, and one of the most generous early benefactors of the abbey. He died in 1134:
Another interesting memorial is that of Edward Jenner, whose research helped discover a vaccine for smallpox. Jenner is not actually buried here, but in the village of Berkeley where he lived.
Tomb of Thomas and Christian Machen:
The Lady Chapel is regarded as one of the greatest treasures of Gloucester Cathedral but has been identified as the most ‘at risk’ part of the building. So, it might be closed for the next 3 years. Nearing a state of irreparable deterioration, the Lady Chapel restoration project will be a major undertaking for Gloucester Cathedral over the next three years. The latest medieval additions to the church are equally glorious, the Lady Chapel is entered through the enormous east window and is itself a largely glazed structure:
St Andrew’s Chapel was redecorated (created in 1868 by Thomas Gambier Parry) during the Victorian era and the colour is vibrant and joyous. The idea was to overwhelm the senses, to teach from the pictures and the stained glass for populations who were largely illiterate and who lived in very dark confined homes. When they entered a Cathedral, it would have seemed as if they were indeed closer to heaven - in these sacred spaces that hit all their senses at once:
Seabroke Chapel - Abbot Seabroke's Tomb:
The windows of the cathedral contain stained glass from the 14th century to the present day. In the Cloisters the majority of medieval glass has been lost however the Great East Window, situated in the Quire behind the high altar, dominates the very heart of the Cathedral and is as big as a tennis court - installed in the early 1350’s, the window is one of the greatest landmarks of English medieval glass. The East Window (1347-50), which commemorates the English victory at Crecy, is glorious. It retains some of its original stained glass. When it was installed in the 1350s it was the largest stained glass window in the world.
Other stained-glass windows in the cathedral:
There is a new stained glass window created by Tom Denny, which is a memorial to the Gloucestershire WW1 poet, Ivor Gurney. They are in a special, stunning chapel devoted to Jerald Finzy, choral composer 1901-1956. One of the most beautiful chapels, I've ever seen in churches or cathedrals !!! Unbelievable beauty !!!
Processional cross made in 1923 and used in coronation of Elizabeth II in year 1953:
The choir dates from the 1330s when an ambitious rebuilding project lasting 20 years resulted in major changes to the cathedral. The Gothic choir is a unique and spectacular work, the walls so heavily paneled as to suggest a huge stone. Note the magnificent carvings of the choir stalls as well. You might be flooded with wonderful singing voices from the choir and the inspiring tunes from the organ. The world famous organ, was constructed in 1666 by Thomas Harris. Information on organ concerts:
The choir is probably the work of Walter Ramsey, who probably designed the chapter house at Old St Paul's Cathedral in London. Ramsey decided not to pull down the 12th century Norman choir, but to cover it with new masonry. The result is a wonderful example of Gothic style, and contrasts perfectly with the earlier Romanesque nave:
The choir seats boast a marvelous collection of misericord carvings; 46 of these are medieval and a dozen are Victorian additions. Among the multitide of carvings are depictions of the pagan Green Man symbol. In fact there are 40 Green Men throughout the cathedral, so many that you can purchase a Gren Man trail pamphlet from the cathedral shop to help find them all!
The fan vaults are far more ornate that French Gothic architecture of the same time period. The vaulting is primarily 13th century, and leads your eye inexorably towards the choir(see above).
You can do the tower GUIDED tour up onto the roof and see the bells in the tower. The bells ring daily at 9.00, 13.00 and 17.00 (16.00 on Saturdays and Sundays). Try to see if the peregrine falcons are still nesting in summer or spring months. A nice bonus is a delightful view of the city from the tower heights. The Tower Tour season usually runs from April until the end of October: MON-FRI 14.30, SAT 13.30. Adults £7.00, Children (who must be aged 6 or over and accompanied by an adult) £1.00.
Tthe crypt still follows the original layout. Descend the steps from the South Transept to discover the hidden subterranean level of the Cathedral. The crypt is one of the four apsidal cathedral crypts in England, the others being at Worcester, Winchester and Canterbury.
The cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral are the earliest surviving fan vaults, having been designed between 1351 and 1377 by Thomas de Cambridge. The early 16th century cloisters to the north of the nave are highly decorated. There are a lot of interesting graves there including kings. The Cathedral cloisters were transformed into the hallowed corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft in Harry Potter films: The Philosopher’s Stone (2001), The Chamber of Secrets (2002) and The Half Blood Prince (2009). The cloisters contain an amazing number of stained glass windows. Note: in a rainy day the cloisters might be quite dark. You'll need artificial light for taking photos - but, that's NOT permitted. Try to get a special permission to have photos with flash and tripod inside the cloisters:
Note: Gloucester Cathedral excels in their temporary art exhibitions which are massively varied. So, try to tune up with their web site - to get the updated information about their current , inspiring exhibition.
The best way to get out of Gloucester Cathedral is not simple. There is no signage easing your way out. You, easily fall trapped with the multiple parking yards around. SO, we offer two alternatives: Head east and turn right toward Pitt St, slight left along Pitt St. to see the students of Kings Junior school (near Pelican Inn):
BTW - If you walk out of the cloisters to the location of Kings Junior School you can still see the stone coffins of the monks built into the wall:
We return to Pitt street and continue walking straight (north-west) until we meet the Archdeacon Street. OR - we head southwest toward College Green. This road will lead us, with our face to the north-west, onto St Mary's Square. Here, you can see the Monument commemorating Bishop Hooper on the site where the bishop was burnt at the stake in 1555 (we'll return here later). when Mary Tudor came to the throne in 1553, she set about undoing the religious reforms of the preceding years. The married priests were driven from their churches, the images replaced and the mass restored. Hooper was sent to the Fleet prison in London, where he remained for seventeen months in horrible condition, but refused to recant and was condemned to death by burning at the stake:
From St Mary Square we continue north-west to meet the Archdeacon Street (St Mary de Lode Church on our left).
In Archdeacon street - we change direction. Pay attention: NOT EASY TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS. NOT ALL ROADS ARE WITH CLEAR NAMES. BE VERY CAREFUL IF IT IS RAINING. We head to Alney Island Nature Reserve. Head NORTH-EAST on Archdeacon St toward Mount St, 25 m. Turn left onto Mount St, 105 m. Turn left onto St Oswalds Rd, 160 m. Turn right onto Royal Oak Rd, 20 m. Continue onto Westgate St (bustling street with noisy traffic), 25 m. Slight left onto Westgate St, 90 m. Turn right toward Westgate St, approx. 55 m. You crossed the Severn river. Turn left, 160 m. Slight right, 52 m. Slight right, 320 m. Turn right, 160 m. and you see the Alney Island nature reserve on your left. It looks very desolated but, it is ,actually, less than 1 km. from the city centre. Alney consists mostly of low-lying farmland, and parts are sometimes subject to flooding when the Severn rises. The Island is formed because the River Severn splits into two channels around it, isolating the land in the centre. It was designated as a special nature site in 1993. On the island you can see the The Alney Island railway viaduct on the South Wales Railway leading west from Gloucester to Cardiff Central. The nature reserve is predominantly neutral wet grassland and flood meadows with broadleaf trees:
Our next destination are Gloucester Docks, considered to be the best-preserved Victorian port in the country - approx 1.6 km walk. Most of the way is, again, back along Westgate Street. We trace our steps back along Westgate Street. We continue and follow this street when it turns right (SOUTH) (where the Severn river is on our right) - to meet The Quay.
Gloucester dock lock -.locking up from the River Severn into the docks:
Although the weather may be, very often, wet and windy you can enjoy walking around the docks area. You can walk around for hours, in a bright day, looking at all the ships and boats before having something to eat in the Gloucester Quays Shopping Centre. I loved the place. The Quay marks the north part of the city’s historic docks area. The National waterways Museum is in the most southern part of the quays and the docks. The walking distance between then is approx. 700-800 m. Gloucester Docks and Quays can trace their roots back to the 1800s and they were once the hub of the UK’s most inland shipping port. As an ancient port, and later when port status was granted by Elizabeth I in 1580, shipping to and from Gloucester had to navigate the treacherous tidal River Severn. The Docks and associated canal to Sharpness, completed in 1827, changed that and enabled significant growth in trade with all continents. Cargoes of grain and timber dominated, though goods including wines and spirits and oranges and lemons were brought by large sea going ships. Salt from Worcestershire was the main return cargo. The run down Victorian docks at Gloucester have been transformed into a place where people of all ages and interests can have a wonderful day out. Gloucester Docks and its perfectly preserved Victorian warehouses recently enjoyed a starring role in Disney's upcoming ‘Alice in Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass’ (Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska):
Today pleasure boats have replaced the ships and barges and the docks are a lively visitor attraction with year round events and family entertainment – from outdoor theatre to weekend food markets. The docks are worth seeing. The warehouses have been renovated and there's a lot of history there. The docks still have an active shipwright; and now act as a marina and visitor destination – visitors can see the Waterways Museum and the award winning Regiments of Gloucestershire Museum, as well as regular Tall Ships festivals and other events. Contemporary landscaping and public art also enhance the current setting for waterside restaurants and shopping. Explore the museums, outlet shopping, Sunday markets and restaurants, all at Gloucester's Historic Docks. It is lovely in the sunset hours and evenings as you can see the sun go down through the old bridges and mills.
The National Waterways Museum waits in the southern end of the port. Opening hours: 17 January to 9 April: TUE - SUN: 11.00 - 15.00, 10 April to 5 November: daily: 10.00 - 17.00, 7 November to 24 December: TUE - SUN:11.00 - 15.00:
The Gloucester Quays Designer Outlet Centre is further south and has a collection of high street and designer labels. Open: MON - FRI: 10.00 - 20.00, SAT: 10.00 – 19.00, SUN: 10.00 – 17.00:
For those who are interested in Soldiers of Gloucester Museum - we'll combine this site, later, after quitting the docks area.
The Gloucester Shopping Centre is you best bet for lunch. Stop for a drink and bite to eat on the stunning waterfront, whether you fancy a meal at one of the quality restaurants including Carluccio’s, Bill’s, Nandos, Pizza Express, Bella Italia and Zizzi, or a leisurely coffee and cake at one of the café bars, Costa Coffee and Caffè Nero. I enjoyed (as usual) my budget and filling meal in Nando's, 3, Merchants Road. Quick service. Cheap, clean and all around good.
We head, now, after having a meal to Gloucester Park. Head northeast on Merchants' Rd and turn right onto Llanthony Rd. Turn right onto Southgate St. Turn left onto Spa Rd, 320 m. Turn left onto Montpellier and Gloucester Park will be on your right. Very average park, lacks color but well kept and clean. Note the bronze statue of Robert Raikes, English philanthropist and founder of the Sunday School Movement, in eighteenth century clothes, pointing at a Bible in his left hand:
Limestone statue of Queen Anne - quite in a bad state:
Exit the park at its northern exit or, better, its north-west end. Walk WEST (left) along Park Road, turn right (north) to Brunswick Street and note ( a bit further) The Brunswick pub on your right:
DO NOT walk along Brunswick Road until its northern end. Turn LEFT (north-west) to Greyfriars Road to see the remains of the 16th century Greyfriars Priory. The Grey Friars, or Franciscans, were followers of St Francis of Assisi and founded many religious houses across Europe. They earned their name from the grey habits that were worn as a symbol of their vow and gestures of poverty. The Franciscan friary at Gloucester was founded in 1231. in 1643 the priory was severely damaged by Royalist forces during the siege of Gloucester. Most of the spacious structure had been demolished, but the remains of the church can still be seen – its spacious proportions demonstrate that it was designed to hold large congregations in keeping with the Franciscans’ vow to poverty and modesty and their fame as preachers:
Adjacent to the priory is the Eastgate Market or Shopping Centre. There are 4 entrances to the indoor market: via Eastgate Street, Southgate Street, Greyfriars and Via Sacra. The Market is opens six days a week - Monday to Saturday: 8.30 - 17.00. Lots of independent little stalls. Some of them are brilliant. Fresh and awaking smells:
Turn to Southgate Street to see the Statue of Marcus Cocceius Nerva Augustus - The Emperor after whom Roman Gloucester was named - Colonia Nerviana Glenvensis. It was sculpted by Anthony Stones:
Turn LEFT (south-west) to Southgate. Turn RIGHT to Commercial Road and, again, turn right onto Ladybellegate St to see, on your right, the Blackfriars Priory with its magnificent timbered roof. The most complete example of a medieval Dominican Priory in Britain. The original medieval cloister, completed in 1239, Inside, you can see the rooms' complex where the friars were trained for their preaching mission over 750 years ago. The original study cells are housed in the oldest surviving library building in the country. OPen: March until the end of September:
Sunday-Monday: 10.00 - 15.00. FREE:
If you walk northward along Ladybellegate St until it meets Longsmith Street - you see this splendid wall painting:
Turn left (west) to Longsmith Street. In the 2nd intersection - turn right (north) to Berkeley Street. If you continue a few steps direct onto College Road - you see, again, the Gloucester Cathedral:
Turn right (east) to Westgate Street and see the Gloucester Shire Hall.The building opened in 1816 and was designed by Robert Smirke for Gloucestershire magistrates. It is the home of Gloucestershire County Council:
We walk approx. 500 m. EASTward along Westgate Street until we meet St. Nicholas Church (on our left). St. Nicholas Church is just up on the left before you walk into the pedestrianised area of the city centre. The church dates back to the 12th century, though most of it was rebuilt in the 13th and larger windows were added later. This church was built for merchant traders beside Gloucester’s (not existing today) west gate. The church is a city landmark, known for its leaning, truncated white stone spire. Damage was caused to the spire by a direct hit by Royalist troops during the Siege of Gloucester in 1643:
Many of its wonderful monuments and memorial slabs commemorate significant citizens, some showing figures in glorious Stuart costume. Most important is the altar tomb of Alderman John Wallton (died 1626) and his wife Alice. On either side of the chancel are 16th century squints, giving the congregation a view of the sanctuary and there is an unusual Royal Arms above the south doorway that references not one but three monarchs - George I, George II and Charles II (see below):
Behind St. Nicholas church (if you walk along St. Mary Square northward) stands Statue of Charles II dated 1662 by Stephen Baldwyn:
With our face at Westgate Street to the east, on our right, opposite St. Nicholas Church is the Folk Museum or Life Museum, 99-103 Westgate Street, set in Tudor timber-framed buildings, one of which was traditionally associated with the final night of the protestant martyr, Bishop Hooper(see above the Bishop's Monument at the St. Mary Square which is few metres from this museum). A beautiful building in its own right, filled with treasures from daily life. Very extensive and rich museum. Open: MON - SAT: 10.00 - 17.00. Prices: adult - £5.00, concessions - £3.00:
Continuing along Westgate Street eastward we pass College Street on our left. On the 2nd road - we turn left to St. John Lane to see this brilliant wall painting:
Further walking along Westgate Street eastward (or south-east) brings us to The Cross - Gloucester centre (where, more or less, we've started our daily Gloucester route of walk):