Gloucester Cathedral England
Back in 2005 my Wife and myself were living in Gloucester England the City of my birth. Because of health reasons and to be closer to our daughter and the Grand Children we decided to move to Quebec, Canada, the birthplace of my wife. The City of Quebec is truly wonderful and to be close to my grand children is all that I could imagine but this aside, I do miss my home city of Gloucester. With this in-mind I have decided to do a series of articles on Gloucester and its surrounding areas.
- Early begginings
- Foundations of a Cathedral:
- Architecture and Construction:
- The south porch, choir chamber and cloisters
- Royalty in the cathedral:
- The full time line of Gloucester Cathedral
- The Whispering Gallery and Epilogue.
Gloucester Cathedral, or to give its full name “The Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity” stands in the north of the city, near the river. It originated in 678 with the foundation of an abbey, dedicated to Saint Peter. The abbey was extended and fortified for many years until it was dissolved by King Henry VIII for deeds deemed to be against the crown, or to be more honest, the King wanted to get a divorce, so he tore down most of the abbeys and sold there artifacts to raise money for the Kings purse.
Foundations of a Cathedral:
The first foundation stone of the new abbey church was laid by Robert de Losinga the Bishop of Hereford in 1089 and the Consecration of St. Peter’s Abbey took place in the year 1100. So from its early beginnings back in 678 when a small religious community headed by King Osric of the Hwicce a Viking built a wooden framed building on the site, Gloucester now had its own Abbey, or as it was to become “Gloucester Cathedral”
Architecture and Construction:
The cathedral, consists of a Norman nucleus, with one of the most spectacular displays of Gothic architecture in every style not surpassed by any other Cathedral in the world. The inner sanctum is 420 feet long and 144 feet wide. This inner sanctum also boasts a beautiful central tower of the 15th century rising to the height of 225 ft and topped by four delicate pinnacles. This famous landmark can be seen from all directions as you drive into Gloucester. The nave is a massive Norman configuration and is fitted with an early English wooden roof; the crypt, under the choir, aisles and chapels, is also Norman, as is the chapter house running along side the Cathedral. The crypt is one of the only four surviving apsidal cathedral crypts in England, the others being at Worcester, Winchester and Canterbury. The cathedral also has a stained glass window containing the earliest images of golf. This dates from 1350, over 300 years earlier than the earliest image of golf found in Scotland. There is also a carved image of people playing a ball game, believed by some to be one of the earliest images of medieval football.
The south porch, choir chamber and cloisters
The south porch is in the perpendicular style, with a fan-vaulted roof, decorated in a true Gothic style. The choir chamber (one of the largest in England and perhaps Europe) has perpendicular workings over Norman work and the choir chamber vaulting displays some of the most spectacular vaulting in the world. When you visit the cloisters beneath the choir chamber it is like going back in time. You enter the cloisters via a very small door to the right of the nave and once inside you are greeted not only by the original foundations of the church, but of the sheer size of the maze like structure. The fan vaults are the earliest surviving fan vaults surviving in England. They were designed between 1351 and 1377 by Thomas de Cambridge. As a point of interest a lot of the Harry Potter films were shot in the cloisters of the Cathedral.
Royalty in the cathedral:
Gloucester Cathedral is the only place other than London to crown a monarch no other city can boast this. In 1216 King Henry III was crowned and sat in the parliament building the only Parliament building to exist outside of London. Gloucester Cathedral is also the only Cathedral out side London to hold the body of a the King of England. King Edward the Second. He was murdered in nearby Berkeley Castle (his murder was quite unsavory, they killed him by sticking a red hot poker in his rectum). While walking in the cathedral you cannot miss the canopied shrine of King Edward II of England it is extremely ornate and is by coincidence quite close to a little side-chapel, where there is a monument built in colored bog oak of Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror,
The full time line of Gloucester Cathedral
678-9 A small religious community was founded here in Saxon times by Osric of the Hwicce.
1017 Secular priests expelled; the monastery given to Benedictine monks.
1072 Serlo, the first Norman abbot, appointed to the almost defunct monastery by William I.
1089 Foundation stone of the new abbey church laid by Robert de Losinga, Bishop of Hereford.
1100 Consecration of St. Peter’s Abbey.
1216 First coronation of King Henry III.
1327 Burial of King Edward II.
1331 Perpendicular remodeling of the quire.
1373 Great Cloister begun by Abbot Horton; completed by Abbott Frouster (1381–1412).
1420 West End rebuilt by Abbot Morwent
1450 Tower begun by Abbot Sebrok; completed by Robert Tully.
1470 Lady Chapel rebuilt by Abbot Hanley; completed by Abbot Farley (1472–98)
1540 Dissolution of Abbey
1541 Refounded as a Cathedral by King Henry VIII.
1616–21 William Laud holds the office of dean of Gloucester.
1649–60 Abolition of Dean and Chapter, reinstated by Charles II.
1735–52 Martin Benson, Bishop of Gloucester carried out major repairs to the cathedral.
1847–73 Beginning of extensive Victorian restoration work
1953 Major appeal for the restoration of the cathedral; renewed
1968 Cathedral largely re-roofed and other major work completed.
1989 900th anniversary appeal.
1994 Restoration of tower completed.
2000 Celebration of the novecentennial of the consecration of St Peter’s Abbey
The Whispering Gallery and Epilogue.
That is my story of Gloucester Cathedral, it is something I have been meaning to do for a long time as it has many great memories, as I spent many a happy Saturday mornings as a child, roaming through all its nooks and crannies. I did however omit one thing, above the inner sanctum of the cathedral is a hidden passage way (one of many I might add). This particular passage though stretches from one side of the Cathedral to the other and its called “the whispering chamber”. This passageway is where the monks used to hide and you can understand why, for once in this chamber you can place your lips up to the wall at one end of the passage way and whisper. A person standing at the other end can hear you as if you were standing directly next to him. This is how the monks used to pass on information if the church had been attacked. This whispering chamber is also said to be one of the longest whispering galleries in the world.
Hope you have enjoyed your romp through merry old England as much as I have enjoyed writing about it.