Having been born in Cheltenham, I’ll admit it’s pretty poor that I only recently visited nearby Gloucester Cathedral! Thankfully I did, and my goodness it’s beautiful. One of the country’s most pristine medieval buildings and the burial place of royalty, there’s so much to see at Gloucester’s College Green. Allow me to show you around.
Visiting Gloucester Cathedral
The Cathedral itself is in Gloucester’s city centre. Walk along College Green and you’ll find the building in all its glory. Even from the outside, there’s so much elaborate architecture on the Cathedral. You may have to just circle it to take everything in from this gorgeous honey stone building.
The Cathedral itself dates back over a thousand years, boasting various architectural styles. You’ll find everything from Norman to Gothic to Perpendicular, to the present day. Even now, stonemasons and carvers are hard at work both extending and preserving the beautiful building.
Whether to come to visit or worship, you’ll be overwhelmed by the stunning building. There’s daily worship, and the cathedral opens every day at 8am until Evensong. You may even get lucky and catch an art exhibition, a concert, or a service, as Gloucester Cathedral hosts many as such an iconic building.
Key features to look out for within Gloucester Cathedral include the beautifully impressive fan faulted medieval cloisters, and the Great East Window. Keep an eye out too for the Lady Chapel, which is home to some of the country’s most stunning crafted glass.
One of the most stunning parts of Gloucester Cathedral – and my personal favourite – is the Cloisters. It’s famous for its incredible fan vaulting, one of the earliest examples in English history. The Cloisters were originally accommodation for the monks, a place where they could live, work, and meditate. Begun in the late fourteenth century, they were finally finished in 1412 by Abbot Froucester to replace an early Norman cloister. While the cloisters of many other abbeys are traditionally on the south side, at Gloucester they are unique in being on the north side.
Within the Cloisters, you’ll find a row of twenty spaces that would have provided study desks for the monks. There’s also a washing place which would have once benefited from a local stream. During my visit, there was an art exhibition on, which showcase some beautiful works of art from around the country. I loved this piece in particular.
Features of Gloucester Cathedral
Meander around the Cloisters and you’ll find some stunning stained glass windows. All originals, you’ll see they’ve even bowed after taking the test of time. They’re vibrant, beautiful, and everything is extremely ornate.
Walking along the Cloisters, you’ll also find this door which opens up to a splendid view. There’s a gorgeous leafy courtyard and a wonderful image of Gloucester Cathedral and the tower. You can climb the Cathedral Tower at just a meagre 269 steps! At the top, you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views of Gloucestershire and the countryside beyond.
Back inside the cathedral, you can wander around incredible artefacts like a US flag, marking the birth of John Stafford Smith. Stafford Smith was born in Gloucester and wrote the music for the American national anthem. There’s also the grave of King Edward II, and some stunning modern day stained glass windows.
Gloucester Cathedral in Popular Culture
For anyone who hasn’t yet visited Gloucester Cathedral, it may not be as unfamiliar as you first think. In fact, it will be recognisable to any Harry Potter fans. The historic Cloisters became the corridors of Hogwarts in the first two films in the series.
There are also some important royal implications with Gloucester Cathedral. As well as the burial place of King Edward II, Henry III was crowned at the cathedral back in 1216. He was the only king to be crowned outside of Westminster since the Norman invasion. Many years later in the sixteenth century, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed in a room at the Cathedral for a week. This room is now called the Henry Room. With such a rich history, who knows what dramas the cathedral will witness next.
That’s my guide to Gloucester Cathedral! Where are your favourite cathedrals to visit across the world?