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Being a huge fan of tombs (yes I know its morbid!) and old churches, Gloucester Cathedral was one of the places on my list to visit as I knew that Edward II was burried there. Knowing the tombs in Westminster Abbey like the back of my habd I decided it was time to explore other parts of the country for spectacular royal monuments. Of course, its not just about tombs!
The first religious building on the site was founded in the 7th century. The building that we see today was begun in 1089, although there has been lots of rebuilding and remodelling since then. The Cathedral was originally a Benedictine Abbey and remained so until Henry VIII decided to dissolve all the monasteries. Unlike most of the monasteries, however, this one was not sold off but converted into a cathedral (because Edward II was burried there). Today of course the cathedral is still a working church with services held every day.
Gloucester Cathedral is located in the centre of Gloucester. Gloucester is located on the M5, junction 12. We parked in the park and ride and when we reached the centre we were glad that we had as parking looked like a bit of a nightmare in the centre.
ENTRANCE AND ACCESSIBILITY:
The Cathedral is free to enter although a donation of £3 is requested for adults. If you pay the £3 then you are permitted to take photographs within the Cathedral. There are tours of the Tower which cost £3 for adults and £1 for children and there is also an exhibition about one of the medieval windows and a whispering gallery and these cost £2 together.
The Cathedral is accessible for disabled people apart from the tower and for the treasury you need to contact one of the guides.
When we got to the Cathedral we were very excited about seeing it. On entering we paid our £3 each and then proceeded to the nave. From here you can appreciate how huge the Cathedral is. At each end there are beautiful stained glass windows.
Walking around places like this always makes me feel very peaceful and Gloucester was no exception. Even though there were lots of people walking around I felt peaceful and I think it is fantastic that old churches can have this effect.
We walked around the nave, looking at the wall monuments and tombs which fascinated me. We then reached the tomb of Edward II and it was incredible. Now for those of you who don't know Edward II ended his days in Berkley Castle and he met a rather unfortunate end. Accused of being homosexual the story goes that he was murdered with a poker being placed into a certain part of his anatomy. They didn't want to bother with taking his body all the way to London so they buried him in the nearest suitable place - Gloucester Abbey. As the king was murdered people soon used his tomb as a place of pilgrimage, although this ended when England converted to Protestantism. The most frustrating thing about our visit was that the tomb had scaffolding around it. You could still see the majority of it though and we god a good view of the stone effigy on top of the tomb.
On the opposite side of the quire was another tomb, which I did not know was there. This belonged to Robert Curthose who was one of William the Conqueror's sons. He died in the 12th century so I was quite excited to see this.
Around the quire there are some smaller chapels, including one which remembers the victims of war.
At the end of the quire is the most spectacular window, the East Window. This shows Christ, along with various saints and bishops. It was constructed in around 1350 and is as big as a tennis court! You can get closer to this if you go to the exhibition although we didn't as we literally had no cash to pay the entrance fee(!).
After you have walked around the interior of the Cathedral and marvelled at all the history, then you can walk around the cloisters. This is where the monks would have studied and is also where some (controversial) filming for the first two Harry Potter films happened. You can even see the monks toilets here! The chapter house was closed when we went around so I can't comment on this. We also didn't go on the tower tour as my other half can't do heights, but I have heard that the view is spectacular.
There is a small cafe and toilets in the cloisters but we did not use these. On the way out of the Cathedral there is a shop selling the usual mix of religious and tourist fare. Look out for the statue of Edward Jenner by the shop as well.
If you love churches and history then this is definately the place to go. The Cathedral did not disappoint and I a, so glad that I can cross another royal tomb off my list. The Cathedral is awe-inspiring and very beautiful. Highly recommended!
Thanks for reading
Gloucester cathedral dominates the town's skyline and is visible from miles around. It is a huge building and used to also have an abbey, the ruins of which are still visible. The catehdral is open to visitors during the day, and as it is in the centre of Gloucester, its very easy to visit. There have been religious builsings on this site since Saxon times, there is a great deal of history in the bilding itself, and some wonderful architecture - painted chapels, bosses, fan vaulted celings, crypts, treasures and much more. The tea shop is very good. There is a lot to explore and to enjoy. In my opinion, one of the main reasons for going to the catherdral is to see the new stained glass window. This is one of the most modern glass windows in the country, and is set in one of the many side chapels. Most of the glass is blue. there is a central depiction of two figures, one of whome is certainly Christ. The background is full of details - caves, forests, sun, moon, people, rivers - the longer you look, the more thre is to see. Whent ehre is little light, the chaple is thrown into an eerie blue light, suggestive of mystery and wonder. When strong sunlight strikes the window, the light inside the chapel is transformed into a wonderful light blue, radiant and joyous. It is worth taking the time to sit in the chapel and experience the changing light. It is a truly magical experience. The cathedral is often used for concerts, and due to the building's fine acoustics, is well worth going to. Renditions of classical and religious music in the cathedral are an incredible experience that I would wholeheartedly recomend. As this is a religious builing, entry is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. be aware that therewill be services and if you wish to enter as a tourist, you should time your visit carefully.