Discover the old Cathedral City of Gloucester


Discover the old City of Gloucester, founded by the Romans as an easily defended trading centre and later becoming a Saxon Royal settlement and eventually an important medieval Cathedral city. In the 16th Century, Queen Elizabeth I granted the port, Royal status and Frank Whittle designed and built the first allied jet plane in Gloucester in 1941.

The Cathedral is the highlight of the city and one of England's most beautiful and interesting. The great delicate fan vault of the cloisters has doubled as Hogwarts' passages, and unfortunate King Edward II is buried here. The Jet Age Museum is a must for enthusiasts.

We can include a Gloucester tour on a driver-guided day tour from London, Bath or the Cotswolds area. Stay overnight in the region and have a drive into the Wye valley in Wales.

Visit the Real Hogwarts

A brief history of Gloucester

The Romans
In the first Century the occupying Romans searched Britain for strategic spots to build forts, towns and cities. The Roman fort-town of Glevum developed on the site, surrounded on one side by the River Seven and ditches and streams on the other. This was the Roman front-line, beyond lay rebellious British tribes.

The town's status grew, and the walled settlement of Glevum became a Colonia, with retired legionaries at residence. Glevum had a Forum (market) and Basilica (administration centre), and the population swelled to 10,000.

The Anglo-Saxons
In the 7th Century, the Anglo-Saxon Mercian King Osric founded the monastic house of St Peter, which later became Gloucester Cathedral. Later, Æthelflæd, the lady-of-the-Mercians, fortified the city against a Viking attack and laid out the street plan we see today. 

A Tudor Port
After receiving Royal Port status from Queen Elizabeth I in 1580, Gloucester began to trade with the world. The industry continued into later centuries with iron ore, timber and coal. 
George Whitefield, the evangelist and one of the founders of Methodism, was born in Gloucester. He imported his energetic style of preaching to America and is buried in the Old South Presbyterian Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

The Jet Age
Jumping into the 20th Century, the Gloster Meteor was designed and build in a suburb of Gloucester. The Royal Airforce Officer Sir Frank Whittle invented the first Jet Engine used in the Gloster Meteor. Discover more at the Jet Age Museum during your day tour of Gloucester.

Highlights of Gloucester

The Historic Dockyards
The 2000-year-old docks are now largely Victorian. The grand warehouses and quays from the period are well-preserved and serve perfectly well as a designer outlet. Often historic tall-ships and motor cruisers moor up. Explore the National Waterways Museum with tugs, narrowboats and barges.

Gloucester Cathedral
The Cathedral has been the site of Christian worship for a little over 1,300 years. Much like many great churches, Gloucester is an amalgam of different architectural styles that somehow works. Gloucester is one of England's great gems and much lesser known than Canterbury, Salisbury or Winchester Cathedrals. It is a fascinating edifice in stone and glass.

A brief history of Gloucester Cathedral

Little is known of the building before Bishop Serlo's 11th Century re-build. His great cylinder columns still support the newer nave vaulting. Extensive and profitable land ownership paid for the construction of the vast and impressive Norman church.

The son of William I (the Conquerer), Robert Duke of Normandy, fought against his father and brother for power. He ended up incarcerated in Cardiff castle for his trouble; he is buried in the Cathedral. Royal connections added to the Cathedral's prestige; In 1216, the Crowning of the nine-year-old boy King Henry III took place.

The turbulent reign of King Edward II ended in a civil war. Edward married the daughter of King Philip IV of France, Isabella. It was an attempt to ease the never-ending tension between England and France. The match was not going to work out, Isabella was known as the She-Wolf-of-France, and Edward preferred the company of men.

Edward's unpopular favourites at court, his poor decision making, loss in battle against the Scots and lack of interest in his marriage led to civil war. Edward's wife, Isabella, gained a following and raised enough support to oust King Edward with the powerful Roger Mortimer. Ultimately, Roger and Isabella reputedly had King Edward murdered while imprisoned at Berkeley Castle.

Eventually, he was buried in Gloucester Cathedral with much fanfare. The English believed in the divinity of Kings in those days. Therefore, the murdered Edward became a Kingly martyr, which was an extremely powerful thing. Pilgrims travelled far and wide to pay their respects at the tomb. The fresh income paid for a great upgrade in the east end of the church. The perpendicular star-shaped lierne vault was born, an English style of architecture.

The Cloisters
The cloisters are a four-sided covered passageway used by monks to get access to various departments and study. The delicate English fan vault architecture here is unforgettable. The 14th Century cloisters remain in beautiful condition, complete with an original lavatorium (a washing trough) and medieval desk spaces called carrels.

In the late 15th Century, the magnificent tower was completed. The 219 ft structure is seen from miles around.

The 16th and 17th centuries' religious turmoil left an impression in Gloucester; on the Catholic Queen Mary's orders, Bishop Hooper was burned at-the-stake in 1555. Later, when Elizabeth I came to the throne, protestants retaliated, and many uncooperative Catholic bishops were hunted down and executed. The conflict between the two branches of Christianity faith, in some ways, continues today.

Harry Potter Filming at Gloucester Cathedral
When you visit Gloucester Cathedral is easy to see why film-makers wished to use the site. Warner Bros turned the church into Hogwarts by utilising the atmospheric passages, doorways, cloisters and spooky lavatorium. Fans of the movies adore Gloucester and love to photograph the film locations.

Touring and accommodation
Gloucester sits on the Cotswolds' edge; combine a day tour of Gloucester with Chepstow Castle and Tintern Abbey in Wales. The historic City of Bath is one hour away and can be combined with Cotswolds touring.

Stay at either Bath at the Royal Crescent Hotel or Bath Priory Hotel. The route to Gloucester from Bath is scenic, and your driver-guide can stop at the delightful small town of Tetbury for lunch and shopping. Return via the beautifully preserved villages of Castle Combe and Lacock Village.

Stay in The Cotswolds, tour the region and included a private guided tour of Gloucester Cathedral. Alternatively, stop in Gloucester, visit the Cathedral and tour the Wye Valley in Wales and stop at Chepstow Castle and Tintern Abbey

Medieval Grandeur

The Cathedral City in the Cotswolds

  • Private Access to the Cathedral Crypt
  • Private Cathedral Tours
  • Visit the Historic Docks
  • Jet Age Museum
  • National Waterways Museum

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