I visited Gloucester this morning, and the primary goal was the cathedral, because they are really a big drawcard in any city. If you don’t have a cathedral you better have something equally grand instead! Tewkesbury is in the middle of 3 cities, (Worcester, Gloucester and Cheltenham) and 3 out of the four have a church that dominates the landscape. I believe they are also all 1 days travel away from Tewkesbury, although that was not by bus! My trip entailed a bus to Cheltenham and another to Gloucester. I am not covering the city in this blogpost though, that will come at a later date after I have been back. (These posts are to be found in 2017). This post only deals with the cathedral.
The Cathedral is well signposted, although I did end up being distracted by the vintage fair that was going on around me and which ruined my plans for the balance of the day. But that is another story. Like so many of these buildings it is now hemmed in by its surroundings, and finding a spot to photograph the complete building is difficult. But I am happy to say I found one that comes close enough.
And, like the other cathedrals I have seen this one is beautiful, the level of detail in it is amazing and it has a really nice collection of Gargoyles too.
It has occupied this space for many centuries, the foundation stone being laid in 1089. Once again I am not here to write about the history of the building, It is better to read about it on Wikipedia. Once inside I was a bit disappointed as the nave seemed almost sparse compared to the other buildings I had been in. It was not as light either, but the lighting was really to do with the time of day, and once past the screen and into the quire it was a different ballgame altogether. Unfortunately there were heaps of chairs being moved around the nave and this really ruined the effect of the organ that was playing in the background during my visit. The organ however was magnificent, it just fits a building like this so well, and I was able to tune out the floor scraping and tune in the pipes instead.
There were a fair amount of wall memorials and a lot of effigies too, although the real treasures were still to come. I did not find a major war memorial inside the cathedral, although there is a chapel dedicated to the Gloucester Regiments. The War Memorial is outside the building on a grassed area I believe used to be the churchyard.
My small camera is unable to do justice to what I see in these churches, but then I think if I had to photograph every highlight I would probably be there a long time and need a lot of spare battery power.
I headed up the aisle for some odd reason, intending to cover the area of the aisle and the transepts before moving into the body of the church. The aisles are usually where the best wall memorials are found and there are a lot of really beautiful and ornate ones inside.
There a number of historically important memorials in the cathedral, and one in particular would probably be the salvation of the cathedral when the dissolution of the abbey happened in 1540. The are two kings buried here. The first being Edward II of England(left) the other being Osric, King of the Hwicce(right) .
I had intended returning to the tombs on my second round, but it skipped my mind and I will have to make a second trip here anyway. Continuing around the body of the church I kept on being taken aback by the sheer opulence of the fittings. What sort of impression did this leave on the average peasant in the 1700’s who saw this church in all its glory?
The Gloucesters lost a lot of men during their many military campaigns around the world and I would see a lot of references to them in the town and in the whole area of Gloucester.
This rather jaunty lady is Elizabeth Williams who died in childbirth in 1622.
It was time to cross into the main body of the church. And here my camera let me down because I have very few images from this area, and none are really very good. This is the view looking towards the nave from just in front of the quire.
while this view is 180 degrees and looking towards the High Altar.
I returned to the aisles once again and came to the Chapel of Saint Andrew which was interesting because it was here the they advertised the crypt tours. The chapel was stunning, made even more interesting by the buttress that seemingly crosses the doorway.
I really liked this chapel a lot, its walls were more fresco than anything else, but it made for a very attractive space. Unfortunately it was a very small space so photography was difficult.
The Crypt tour was of interest, but it was an hour later and I decided to head outside and do more sight seeing and return at 11H30 for the crypt tour. The tower tour was also up, but my ankle was not strong enough to get me up 240+ stairs and back down again. However, I first needed the loo and there was one in the cloisters. It is really a fairy tale space, and I believe parts of a Harry Potter movie were shot somewhere in the cloisters.
The central garden is a wonderful haven of peace and as much as I wanted to grab a bench and sit down I did not have that luxury.
I circumnavigated the cathedral as best I was able, pausing to view any interesting bit through the long distance eye of my camera. The level of close up detail is astounding though, and the stone masons who built this building were master craftsmen indeed.
I have not been into the crypt of any of the churches I have been in, and they seem to limit the amount of people to around 20 at a time. I was probably the first arrival, although when I looked again there were 19 others standing waiting too.
The crypt is really a duplication of the church above, and it has chapels just like the church above it, although these are much less ornate than the area above. I believe this was the domain of the monks, and at some point it became a charnel house and later a storage area during World War Two. It is a strange space, full of interesting shapes and columns, with vaulted ceilings and a feeling of great weight above you. Who knows what it must have looked like some many centuries before?
It is slightly damp inside and well lit, although I would not like to be here when the lights go out. Unfortunately there was not much to see, it was all about history really. The bones that existed in the charnel house are long gone, and if they had been here we would have not been allowed down here anyway. Then it was time to go up again and I headed off to the cloisters once again in search of the loo.
And then I was out the door, leaving the cathedral behind. It is definitely a place I will visit again. Having seen it I now know what I want to see and hopefully a tower tour will be on the list.