Saint Oswald’s Priory, Gloucester.

On this slightly chilly day I headed out to Gloucester to have a look at St Oswald’s Priory as well as St Nicholas Church. The two were close to each other and so it was not too much of a walk to make. After I got to the bus station I headed across to the square that they had been busy digging in last time I was in town. Theoretically it is finished, but I cant help but comment: “It looks real good, but what does it do?” Those fancy seating arrangements look suspiciously like rolls of puff pastry to me.  The bed in the foreground has a layer of shells on it which was really quite strange to see. You don’t even need to go to the seaside to look for shells now. There is even fountain… but I only saw it working long enough to grab a pic.  They are however, still digging and chopping and I have no idea when they will finish. 

That’s St Nicholas Church in the distance and hopefully I would not get too distracted on my way there.  

On the left side of the street is the Gloucester County Council Shire Hall, and it is a wide building that does not fit in my lens.

High up on a wall on  the corner of a building opposite were a group of cherubs looking down on us mere mortals. An information board  underneath gave their history.

The church was situated in an awkward spot which was going to be problematic for photography. I was also ready to accept that it was probably closed too.

No sooner had I taken this pic when a small van came along and parked in front of the door, rendering any additional images impossible. Unfortunately the church was locked and I did not tarry in the hope that it would miraculously open itself. The church was closed in 1967 and declared redundant on 7 May 1971, and care then vested in the Churches Conservation Trust on 25 June 1975.

The church was built in or around 1190 and by 1203 it was known as “St. Nicholas of the Bridge at Gloucester”. It was largely rebuilt in the 13th century, retaining some of its earlier features. Further alterations were made in the 15th century, and the west tower and spire were added. The spire was originally 200 feet (61 m) high. The northeast vestry was extended in the 16th and 17th centuries but in 1643 during the Siege of Gloucester in the Civil War the spire suffered a direct hit by cannon fire. It was reduced in height and capped in 1783 by John Bryan. In 1865 the church was restored by John Jaques and Son, and it was repaired following a fire in 1901. The tower was stabilised in 1927, and between 1935 and 1938 the north aisle was rebuilt and the church was re-roofed.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Nicholas_Church,_Gloucester) 

A bit further up Archdeacon Street is the Church of St Mary De Lode, and it would prove to be a difficult one to get a complete pic of as it was surrounded by very large trees.  It is believed by some to be on the site of the first Christian church in Britain and it is a Grade I listed  building.  It has also been known as St. Mary Before the Gate of St. PeterSt. Mary Broad Gate and St. Mary De Port. The word “Lode” is from the old English word for water course or ferry. 

I walked a bit further to see what I could do about getting a better image and spotted a large memorial a few metres from the church so headed in that direction.

It turns out that the memorial is to Bishop John Roy Hooper (also Johan Hoper; c. 1495 – 9 February 1555). When I got home I did some reading about the Bishop and the reason for this memorial. 

Unfortunately way back in 1555 this was a place of death, and reading between the lines he probably offended quite a few people with  his beliefs and courage. And those who branded him a heretic were in it for all the wrong reasons. England has a bloody history and I am afraid that this memorial, surrounded by trees and old buildings is a sign of what was done before.  

The best I could do with St Mary De Lode came from the another angle, but it was really overshadowed by the John Roy Hooper Memorial.

And then I returned to my original course and the priory was in site! 

St Oswald’s Priory (Or what is left of it)

To be frank all that is left is an ancient wall with windows and stones. However, the history behind it is interesting on it’s own.

The priory was founded by Æthelflæd, daughter of Alfred the Great, and her husband Æthelred, ealdorman of Mercia, in the late 880s or the 890s. 

Text from information board at the priory (new tab 1025 x 748)

I found a number of headstones around the ruins, but legibility on all of them was very poor.

And that concluded my brief look at St Oswald’s Priory. It was a friendly set of ruins though, and very peaceful inspite of the traffic passing by on one side. But, realistically there is not much to see. How much is there underneath is another story altogether.  It was time to head off to the Cathedral which is within easy walking distance from the priory. 

As you can see in the pic, the weather was changing all the time, and while it hadn’t rained yet I had a sneaky feeling that rain was not too far off  although the weather forecast had been favourable for my trip today.  I had no real plans for photography at the cathedral as I had photographed it before, but I had time to kill and I enjoy these beautiful buildings. 

They were holding a “Corgi Trail” at the cathedral, which does explain some of the strange plushies that I spotted scattered around it. Had I known about it at the time I would have gone ahunting. As it is I photographed 3.  

“King Edwoof II” (Tomb of Edward II)

“Abbess Kynbarker” (Statue of Abbess Kyneburga)

“Susan, the Queen’s first Corgi” (Processional Cross)

and outside the cathedral, on a red pillar-box was this very impressive display.

I am amazed at how talented those crochet hook wielders are.  Congratulations to them on a job well done.

It was time to find lunch before setting off for home. I was tired and had had a surprisingly educational morning. At the bus-station I photographed the section of Roman ruins that was on display. 

The stones were part of a large Roman building which once stood near this spot. When the transport hub was being built, archaeologists found the stone walls of the building about 2 metres below the current floor level. Most of the building still remains below the transport hub which was built so as to leave the ruins largely undisturbed.  

The story of Bishop Hooper struck me as a an example that had the exact opposite effect to what was intended. Nobody really remembers those who accused the bishop of heresy, but the death of the Bishop is still commemorated so many centuries later. But long before the Christian church dominated the scene, the Romans dominated the landscape. Both have left their marks on the city of Gloucester. 

DRW 2022. Created 24/05/2022. Some information is from info boards in various parts of Gloucester.  

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