Exploring Gloucester

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 7:37:00 PM

No holiday in the county of Gloucestershire should be without a visit to the city of Gloucester to experience its fascinating history and heritage.

St Nicholas Church, Gloucester
Church of St Nicholas

When you arrive, I’d recommend starting your tour from the bottom of Westgate Street, where there’s a useful car park with easy access to the city centre and Gloucester Cathedral. As you walk up Westgate Street you’ll see St Nicholas Church straight ahead of you with its curious spire.  The church received a lot of canon fire from the Royalist army during the siege of Gloucester in 1643.  The spire took a direct hit,  the top became unstable and eventually 1/3rd  of it was removed for safety reasons, hence its rather unusual look with a coronet around the truncated top with a shiny bronze cockerel weather vane above. The church is instantly recognisable and is quite a landmark.

The Folk Museum, Gloucester
Gloucester Folk Museum

Do stop to admire the timber framed building which is now the Gloucester Folk Museum, one of the oldest museums in the country.  It has a wonderful local and social history collection and I recommend a visit if you have time.  You’ll discover a gallery about the River Severn, a gallery on dairy and arable farming in Gloucestershire.  There’s information about the effects of the Civil War locally and various old fashioned shops including a wheelwright's and a carpenter's workshop as well as information about the industrial and domestic life in the area years ago.

The Dick Whittington Pub, Gloucester
The Dick Whittington Pub

The next surprise is a pub called The Dick Whittington which occupies St Nicholas House, a late fifteenth century merchant’s house which was built for Richard Whittington, nephew of Dick Whittington;  Yes, the Dick Whittington (1350 - 1423) of nursery rhyme and pantomime fame, who was in fact a real person who lived in Gloucestershire for part of his life, then went to London and became Lord Mayor three times. Queen Elizabeth I has been one of many KIngs and Queens to have visited Gloucester and it is said that she stayed in St Nicholas house in 1574. 
Now turn into Three Cocks Lane.

Bishop Hooper's Monument    

Bishop Hooper's Monument, Gloucester
Bishop Hooper's Monument

Four hundred and sixty years ago, Bishop John Hooper was tied to a stake on this spot in St Mary's Square and burned alive in front of a large group of spectators.

He was condemned for his protestant beliefs, Hooper was one of around 300 people who was executed this way for not recanting and returning to the Catholic religion in Queen Mary I's five-year reign and he was the first Bishop to be burnt alive.


Now continue through the archway to visit Gloucester Cathedral.

St Mary's Gate to Gloucester Cathedral
St Mary's Gate

This is St Mary's Gate dating back to the 13th century and leads from the monument into Cathedral Close.  This was once the great gateway of the Abbey of St Peter and alongside to the right of the archway was the Almonry where once  the poor would gather, waiting for the charity that all monasteries were bound to give.   The Almonry building has survived and is still in use today as an education centre.


As you walk through the archway you''ll get your first proper view of Gloucester Cathedral

The South door of Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral

This is one of the finest medieval buildings in the country.  It was the Abbey church of St Peter but when King Henry 8th ordered the destruction of the monasteries, he had the Abbey church saved because it was the burial place of his ancestor King Edward II.   I do recommend you look inside to admire the Norman nave, the beautiful fan vaulted ceiling in the cloisters, the perpendicular east end with its Great East Window of medieval stained glass and the Lady chapel with its Arts and Crafts stained glass windows.  There is so much to see.


These are some of the highlights of a walk around Gloucester and I'd love to show you around.

For a guided walk contact: Blue Badge Tour Guide - Anne Bartlett


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