Gloucester and its cathedral
City of Gloucester shown within Gloucestershire
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Region||South West England|
|Status||Non-metropolitan district, City|
|o Type||Non-metropolitan district council|
|o Body||Gloucester City Council|
|o Leadership||Mayor & Cabinet (Conservative)|
|o MPs||Richard Graham|
|o Total||15.65 sq mi (40.54 km2)|
|Area rank||280th (of 317)|
|o Rank||175th (of 317)|
|o Density||8,300/sq mi (3,200/km2)|
|o Ethnicity||84.6% White British|
4.6% White Other
2.9% Black or Black British
2.9% Mixed Race
|Time zone||UTC0 (GMT)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (BST)|
|ONS code||23UE (ONS)|
|OS grid reference|
Gloucester is a city and district in Gloucestershire, in the South West of England, of which it is the county town. Gloucester lies on the River Severn, between the Cotswolds to the east and the Forest of Dean to the west, 19 miles (31 km) east of Monmouth, 17.5 miles (28.2 km) east of Wales. It has the first traditional crossing point across the longest river in the country, modernised into multiple lanes, connecting Over, a place over the water hence the name of that village — southern counties of England for many decades have been linked by three very long, lower Severn crossings in the very south-west corner of Gloucestershire, quite close to Bristol and Avonmouth on the far side of which is the River Wye being the border of South Wales for several miles.
Gloucester was founded in AD 97 by the Romans under Emperor Nerva as Colonia Glevum Nervensis, and was granted its first charter in 1155 by King Henry II. Economically, the city is dominated by the service industries, and has strong financial, research, distribution and light industrial sectors. Historically it was prominent in the aerospace industry.
Anglo-Saxon migrants followed by their fledgling feudal structure, the Kingdom of Wessex, overturned and culturally overwhelmed the area's Romano-Celtic society and gradually Anglicised similar spoken forms to Caerloyw (roughly ), Gloucester's name in modern Welsh. They likewise tended to credit the Roman fortification for which they would use any variants of the term -cester/chester/caster instead of Caer. Caerloyw is: caer (meaning fort, stronghold or castle) and loyw, a lenition of gloyw as it would therefore early been pronounced among many speakers, means bright/shiny/glowy. The name Gloucester thus means roughly "bright fort". Medieval orthographies include Caer Glow, Gleawecastre and Gleucestre. Pre-Roman British settlement is not confirmed by direct evidence. However, Gloucester was the Romano-British municipality of Colonia Nervia Glevensium, or Glevum, built in the reign of Nerva. Parts of the walls can be traced, and a number of remains and coins have been found, though inscriptions are scarce. In Historia Brittonum, a fabled account of the early rulers of Britain, Vortigern's grandfather, Gloiu (Gloyw Wallt Hir in Welsh, meaning "glowy long hair"), is given as the founder of Gloucester. Part of the foundations of Roman Gloucester can be seen today in Eastgate Street (near Boots), while Roman tombstones and a range of other Roman artefacts can be seen in Gloucester City Museum.
Withdrawal of all Roman forces and many societal leaders completed in about the year 410 and leading families of the Dobunni tribe may have regained power within the now Roman-influenced, interconnected and intermixed Celtic Brythonic local people. This intermix is reflected by the fact a large minority of basic words and available synonyms in Welsh have a Latin base. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Gloucester is shown as part of Wessex from the Battle of Deorham in 577. At some point afterwards, along with the rest of its shire excluding the Forest of Dean, Gloucester was part of the minor kingdom of the Hwicce. In 628, as a result of the Battle of Cirencester, that kingdom became a client or sub-kingdom of Mercia. From about 780, the Hwicce was no longer feigned any pretense as a kingdom and became part of Mercia. Mercia, allied by matrimony and sharing a desire to counter the Danish onslaught as had conquered swathes of the wider island at large, submitted to Alfred the Great's Kingdom of Wessex in about 877-883. A 20th century writer intuitively adds that Roman stem Gleu- Glev- was, doubtless, pronounced without any final consonent.Claudia Castra is mentioned in the 18th century as a possible Latin name related to the city.
The first bridging point on a navigable, defensive barrier, great river and the foundation in 681 of the abbey of St Peter by Æthelred of Mercia, favoured town growth; and before the Norman conquest of England, Gloucester was a borough governed by a portreeve, with a castle which was frequently a royal residence, and a mint. In the early 10th century the remains of Saint Oswald were brought to a small church here and shrine built there, a draw for pilgrims. The core street layout is thought to date to the reign of Æthelflæd in late Saxon times.
After the Norman Conquest, William Rufus made Robert Fitzhamon the first baron or overlord of Gloucester. Fitzhamon had a military base at Cardiff Castle, and for the succeeding years the history of Gloucester was closely linked to that of Cardiff.
A unique coin, dated to 1077-80, was discovered, just north of the city, in November 2011. It features the name of the moneyer Silacwine and its place of minting. The Portable Antiquities Scheme said that, until the coin was discovered, there had been no known examples of William I coins minted in Gloucester in this period.
During the Anarchy, Gloucester was a centre of support for the Empress Matilda, who was supported in her claim to the throne by her half-brother, Fitzhamon's grandson, Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester (also known as Robert of Gloucester). After this period of strife ended with the ascent of her son Henry to the throne Henry II of England, Henry granted Robert possession of Cardiff Castle, and it later passed to Mathilda's son Robert Curthose and his son, William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester. The story of the Anarchy is vividly told in a series of 19th-century paintings by William Burges at the Castle.
Henry granted Gloucester its first charter in 1155, which gave the burgesses the same liberties as the citizens of London and Winchester. A second charter of Henry II gave them freedom of passage on the River Severn. The first charter was confirmed in 1194 by King Richard I. The privileges of the borough were greatly extended by the charter of King John (1200), which gave freedom from toll throughout the kingdom and from pleading outside the borough.
Gloucester's significance in the Middle Ages is underlined by the fact that it had a number of monastic establishments, including St Peter's Abbey founded in 679 (later Gloucester Cathedral), the nearby St Oswald's Priory, Gloucester founded in the 880s or 890s, Llanthony Secunda Priory, founded 1136 as a retreat for a community of Welsh monks (now near the western bypass), the Franciscan Greyfriars community founded in 1231 (near Eastgate Shopping Centre), and the Dominican Blackfriars community founded in 1239 (Ladybellegate Street). It also has some very early churches including St Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester near the Cathedral and the Norman St Mary de Crypt Church, Gloucester in Southgate Street. Additionally, there is evidence of a Jewish community in Gloucester as early as 1158-1159; they lived around present-day East Gate Street and had a synagogue on the north side.
In the Middle Ages the main export was wool, which came from the Cotswolds and was processed in Gloucester; other exports included leather and iron (tools and weapons). Gloucester also had a large fishing industry at that time. In 1223, thatched roofs were banned after a massive fire that destroyed part of Gloucester.
One of the most significant periods in Gloucester's history began in 1378 when Richard II convened Parliament in the city. Parliaments were held there until 1406 under Henry IV of England. The Parliament Rooms at the Cathedral remain as testimony to this important time.
Gloucester was incorporated by King Richard III in 1483, the town being made a county in itself. This charter was confirmed in 1489 and 1510, and other charters of incorporation were received by Gloucester from Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. Gloucester was the site of the execution by burning of John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, in the time of Queen Mary in 1555. In 1580, Gloucester was awarded the status of a port by Queen Elizabeth I. The Siege of Gloucester in 1643 was a battle of the English Civil War in which the besieged parliamentarians emerged victorious.
The 16th and 17th centuries saw the foundation of two of Gloucester's grammar schools: the Crypt School in 1539 and Sir Thomas Rich's School in 1666. Both still flourish as grammar schools today, along with Ribston Hall and Denmark Road High School.
During the Second World War, two petroleum storage depots were constructed in Gloucester. A Government Civil Storage depot with six 4,000-ton semi-buried tanks was constructed on the Berkeley Canal in 1941/42 by Shell-Mex and BP and connected to the pipeline that ran from the Mersey to the Avon. It was also connected to the Air Force Reserve Depot and a Shell Mex and BP facility for road and rail loading. Due to severe tank corrosion, it was demolished in 1971/2 and disposed of in 1976. The second depot was an Air Force Reserve Depot with four 4,000-ton semi-buried tanks constructed in 1941/42 by Shell, Shell-Mex and BP at the Monk Meadow Dock on the Canal. Originally, delivery was by road, rail and barge and pipeline. It was also connected to the docks and to the Shell Mex and BP installation for rail and road loading facilities and the civil storage site. It was transferred from the Air Ministry to the Ministry of Power in 1959, closed in the 1990s and disposed of in the later 2000s.
Gloucester's most important citizens include Robert Raikes (founder of the Sunday School movement) who is still commemorated by the name of Robert Raikes' House in Southgate Street. Its most infamous citizen was Fred West.
In July 2007, Gloucester was hit badly by a flood that struck Gloucestershire and its surrounding areas. Hundreds of homes were flooded, but the event was most memorable because of its wider impact - about 40,000 people were without power for 24 hours, and the entire city (plus surrounding areas) was without piped water for 17 days.
In 2009, Gloucester Day was revived as an annual day of celebration of Gloucester's history and culture. The day originally dates from the lifting of the Siege of Gloucester in 1643, during which the city held out against Royalist forces during the First English Civil War.
Gloucester is one of the few cities in England with two coats of arms. The first consists of three chevrons surrounded by ten roundels. The chevrons come from the arms of the Clare family, who were earls of Gloucester from the 12th to the 14th centuries, while the roundels come from the arms of the Bishop of Worcester, whose bishopric historically encompassed Gloucester. This coat is the older of the two, though it is usually termed the "Commonwealth coat", as it was not officially granted to the city until 1652, during the Commonwealth period. The crest and supporters (lions bearing broadswords and trowels) were also adopted at this time, along with the motto Fides Invicta Triumphat ("unconquered faith triumphs", in reference to the royalist siege withstood by the city in 1643).
The second coat, termed the "Tudor coat", was granted in 1538. It features the roses of York and Lancaster, the boar's head of Richard III, a ceremonial sword and cap, and two horseshoes surrounded by nails, to represent Gloucester's historical association with ironworking.
Although grants made by Commonwealth heralds were nullified after the Restoration, the Commonwealth coat continued to be used by the city rather than the Tudor coat. The Commonwealth coat, along with the crest and supporters, was legally granted to the city by letters patent dated 16 April 1945. This was reconfirmed in 1974 following the local government changes of that year.
Gloucester City Council
|First past the post|
|5 May 2016|
Gloucester is split into 18 wards, with a total of 39 councillors elected to serve on the City Council. Following the last election in 2016 there were 22 Conservative Councillors, 10 Labour Councilors, and 7 Liberal Democrat councillors.
The district was formed from the County Borough of Gloucester on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. The parish of Quedgeley was subsequently added in 1991. As of 24 April 2017, Quedgeley is now classed as a town.
Gloucester City Council collects council tax and has main functions of:
Gloucester is the county town of Gloucestershire, and is the 53rd largest settlement in the United Kingdom by population. In 2002, its population was 110,600. The 2011 census recorded that the city had a population of 121,921 and by 2016 its population was estimated to be 128,488. The city's urban area extends beyond its boundaries, with several outlying districts. The 2011 census gave the population of the Gloucester Urban Area as 150,053, absorbing areas such as Brockworth and Churchdown.
The city is located on the eastern bank of the River Severn, sheltered by the Cotswolds to the east, while the Forest of Dean and the Malvern Hills rise to the west and north, respectively. Gloucester is a port, linked via the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal which runs from Gloucester's docks to the Severn Estuary, allowing larger ships to reach the docks than would be possible on the tidal reaches of the river itself, which go well north of the city to Haw Bridge. The wharfs, warehouses and the docks themselves fell into disrepair until their renovation in the 1980s. They now form a public open space. Some warehouses now house the Gloucester Waterways Museum, others were converted into residential flats, shops and bars. Additionally, the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum is located in the Custom House. Next to the museum is Gloucester Yacht Club. The port still houses the most inland RNLI lifeboat in the United Kingdom.
Gloucester is made up of a variety of neighbourhoods, some of which correspond to electoral divisions of the City Council.
+ Quedgeley is the only town within the city's borders. Because of this it has its own town council.
The city itself contains no green belt; however it is bordered to the north east by the green belt in the surrounding Tewkesbury district, helping to maintain local green space, prevent further urban sprawl and unplanned expansion towards Cheltenham and Innsworth, as well as protecting smaller nearby villages such as Churchdown, Badgeworth, Shurdington, and Twigworth.
Gloucester Cathedral, in the north of the city near the river, originates in the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter in 681. It is the burial place of King Edward II and Walter de Lacy. The cathedral (mainly its cloisters) was used for corridor scenes in the films Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The crypt was used for a scene in Sherlock Christmas special. Attached to the deanery is the Norman prior's chapel. In St Mary's Square outside the Abbey gate, the Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop John Hooper, was martyred under Queen Mary I in 1555.
A good number of medieval and Tudor period gabled and half timbered houses survive from earlier periods of Gloucester's history. At the point where the four principal streets intersected stood the Tolsey (town hall), which was replaced by a modern building in 1894. None of the old public buildings are left except for the New Inn in Northgate Street. It is a timbered house, with strong, massive external galleries and courtyards. It was built around 1450 by John Twyning, a monk.
Kings Square is at the heart of the city centre and occupies what was once a cattle market and bus station. Officially opened in 1972, it was the centrepiece of a radical redesign of the city, The Jellicoe Plan, which was first proposed in 1961. It stands beside the Debenham's (formerly Bon Marché) store built in the early 1960s. Many of the features of the redevelopment have since been dismantled; the brutalist concrete fountains in the middle of the square have gone and the overhead roadways which linked three multi storey car parks around the centre have been either closed or dismantled. The main bus station received a Civic Trust Award in 1963 but has since been demolished, with a new bus station being constructed on the same site during 2018. In 2012 a £60 million plan was unveiled to revamp the square. In 2014 the prominent Golden Egg restaurant was demolished and a new look public space was created. A prior archaeological dig revealed a Roman house underneath.
An indoor market opened in Eastgate Street in 1968, followed by the Eastgate Shopping Centre in 1973. The Kings Walk Shopping Centre was built between 1969 and 1972. The corner of Eastgate Street and Brunswick Road was redeveloped around this time; Roman remains unearthed below street level in 1974 may be seen through a glass observation panel outside the Boots building, which opened in 1980. The HSBC building on the Cross was renovated and a modern extension added to the Westgate Street aspect in 1972 which received a Civic Trust Award. Sainsbury's opened a supermarket in Northgate Street in 1970; it retains its original interior. Opposite, Tesco opened a large two-storey supermarket in June 1976 on the site of a demolished chapel. This is now occupied by Wilkinson's after Tesco moved to Quedgeley in 1984. Asda opened its first store in Gloucester in Bruton Way in 1983.
Gloucester Leisure Centre opened on the corner of Eastgate Street and Bruton Way in September 1974 and was redeveloped and rebranded (as "GL1") in August 2002. Gloucester Central railway station was rebuilt in 1977 to serve both the original traffic to that railway station and the services from the closed Gloucester Eastgate railway station (former Midland Railway) which had stood on another site further east along the same road. Opposite the station stands one of the city's largest office blocks, Twyver House, opened in 1968, which houses the regional Land Registry. The main shopping streets were pedestrianised in the late 1980s.
The 1966 Heights Plan for Gloucester sought to restrict construction of tall buildings and defend spiritual values by protecting views of Gloucester Cathedral. The tower of Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, started in 1970 and completed in August 1975, can be seen from miles around. In Brunswick Road, a brown concrete tower, which housed classrooms at the Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology (now moved to a site near Llanthony Bridge). The tower was added incongruously to the existing 1930s Technical College buildings in 1971 which has now been demolished. Clapham Court, a tall block of flats, stands in Columbia Close, between London Road and Kingsholm Road. It was built in 1963 and stands on what was once Columbia Street in a small district formerly known as Clapham.
Other features of interest include the museum and school of art and science, the former county jail (on the site of a Saxon and Norman castle), the Shire Hall (now headquarters of the County Council) and the Whitefield memorial church. A park in the south of the city contains a spa, a chalybeate spring having been discovered in 1814. West of this, across the canal, are the remains (a gateway and some walls) of Llanthony Secunda Priory, a cell of the mother abbey in the Vale of Ewyas, Monmouthshire, which in the reign of King Edward IV became the secondary establishment.
The city's Northgate and Southgate streets feature a series of public art mosaic panels depicting Gloucester's medieval trades made by artists Gary Drostle and Rob Turner in 1998 and 1999. Eastgate and Westgate streets feature a series of mosaic panels made by arts group 'The Pioneers'.
The Three Choirs Festival, originating in the 18th century and one of the oldest music festivals in the British Isles, is held in Gloucester every third year, the other venues being Hereford and Worcester. Gloucester hosted the festival in 2016, and it is next due in the city in 2019.
The city's main theatre and cultural venue is the Guildhall. The Guildhall hosts a huge amount of entertainment, including live music, dance sessions, a cinema, bar, café, art gallery and much more. The Leisure Centre, GL1, hosts concerts and has a larger capacity than the Guildhall.
The annual Gloucester International Rhythm and Blues Festival takes place at the end of July and early August. Gloucester International Cajun and Zydeco Festival, the largest in the UK and longest-running in Europe, runs for a weekend in January each year. A Medieval Fayre is held in Westgate Street each year during the summer.
The main museum in the city is The Museum of Gloucester but there are several other important museums.
Since 2013 Gloucester has marked Armed Forces Day with a Drum Head Service held on College Green in the shadow of the cathedral. This is followed by a parade of serving forces, veterans and cadets through the city centre to the docks for a family day with military and military-related charity displays and entertainment in Back Badge Square in front of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.
Nature in Art is a gallery dedicated to the display of works of art inspired by the natural world.
The city features in the popular, well-known nursery rhyme (of unknown date and origin) about a Doctor Foster, who reportedly visited the city, got wet, and swore to stay away as a result.
Gloucester has many churches, and historically has also had many dissenting chapels. It may have been the old proverb "as sure as God's in Gloucester" that provoked Oliver Cromwell to declare that the city had "more churches than godliness". Gloucester was the host of the first Sunday school in England; this was founded by Robert Raikes in 1780. Four of the churches that are of special interest are
In the neighbourhood around St Mary de Crypt there are slight remains of Greyfriars and Blackfriars monasteries, and also of the city wall. Under the Golden Fleece (The Monks Bar) and Saracen's Head inns early vaulted cellars still remains. In addition, in the city is St Peter's Roman Catholic Church, a Grade II* listed building.
During the construction of the Boots store on the corner of Brunswick Road and Eastgate Street in 1974, Roman remains were found. These can be seen through a glass case on the street. At the back of the Gloucester Furniture Exhibition Centre part of the city's South Gate can be seen.
There are three endowed schools: The King's School, refounded by Henry VIII as part of the cathedral establishment; the school of St Mary de Crypt now known as "The Crypt School, Gloucester" since it moved to a mile from town centre to Podsmead, founded by Dame Joan Cooke in the same reign (1539), Sir Thomas Rich's School, previously known as Sir Thomas Rich's Bluecoat Hospital for Boys (1666); The High School for Girls (1883) ; and Ribston Hall High School for Girls. Comprehensives include Millbrook Academy, Beaufort Co-operative Academy, St Peter's High School (Catholic school), Chosen Hill School, Severn Vale School, Gloucester Academy, Barnwood Park Arts College and Churchdown School Academy. There is a Steiner Waldorf School founded in 1937 with a High School added just after the Second World War.
The M5 motorway, opened in 1971 runs east of the city bounds. Junction 12 serves south Gloucester and Quedgeley. Junction 11a serves central Gloucester and junction 11 serves north Gloucester. The A38 runs north-south through Gloucester connecting the city with Tewkesbury and Bristol. The A40 runs west to east, connecting Gloucester with Cheltenham to the east (via a dual carriageway section known as The Golden Valley Bypass) and the Forest of Dean, Monmouth and Swansea to the West. The A46 and A4173 links Stroud, and the A417 links Cirencester in the south east and Ledbury in the north west. Gloucester has a network of cycle paths.
Until the construction of the Severn Bridge in 1966, Gloucester was the lowest road bridging point on the river and hence was an important settlement between South Wales and the southernmost counties of England including London. The Severn has a small anabranch here to reach Alney Island and then the main western bank. A bridge at Over, built by Thomas Telford in 1829, still stands, notable for its very flat arch, but its fragility and narrowness means it is disused, and since 1974 it has been paralleled by a modern bridge. The Gloucester to Newport Line railway bridge is close to both, the lowest crossing of the UK's longest river until the Severn Railway Bridge 1879-1970, which was coupled with the Severn Tunnel in 1886, the present holder of that status.
Gloucester railway station has frequent trains to London Paddington via Reading, Bristol, Cardiff Central, Nottingham and Birmingham. Gloucester was the site of the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company railway works, which have now closed. A Hunts Grove railway station has been floated on the southern edge of the city near Quedgeley as part of MetroWest plans to extend Bristol commuter services to the city.
Local buses are run by Stagecoach West centred at a depot on London Road.
National Express Coaches include the 444 to London and the 222 to Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
Gloucester is linked to the Severn Estuary by the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, which is navigable by small coasters. The city is linked to the River Avon and Stourport-on-Severn by the navigable part of the River Severn, which is navigable by river craft of a few hundred tonnes' displacement. Gloucester Docks mark the Normal Tidal Limit (NTL) of the river. Gloucester was formerly linked to Ledbury and Hereford by the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal; and subsequently by the Ledbury and Gloucester Railway, which used the southern section of the former canal, until it also closed in 1964. This canal is now being restored, and the restored canal basin in the adjacent village of Over is a local attraction.
Commercial airports with scheduled services are Bristol and Cardiff International Airport 40-60 miles away; global hub Heathrow is about 100 miles by road and shares with Gloucester its main rail interchange at London Paddington. Gloucestershire Airport 8 miles east is a private and special charters airfield.
Gloucester has a long history in the aerospace business. In 1926 the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company at Brockworth changed its name to the Gloster Aircraft Company because international customers claimed that the name "Gloucestershire" was too difficult to spell. A sculpture in the city centre celebrates Gloucester's aviation history and its involvement in the jet engine. Frank Whittle's pioneering turbojet engine powered the Gloster E.28/39, the first British jet aircraft, which first flew at the company's airfield at Brockworth. This is commemorated by the pub "The Whittle" at Gloucester Business Park, which now occupies the site. Roads in the business park are named after other Gloster aircraft and a small statue overlooks the site of the old main runway. Messier-Dowty's landing gear plant and GE Aviation Dowty Propellers plants are on the outskirts of the city.
The large insurer Ecclesiastical Insurance is based in the city, as is its owner, the charity Allchurches Trust.Lloyds Banking Group and TSB Bank each have an office in Barnwood, the former previously having been the headquarters of Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society.
The Citizen, published by Local World is Gloucester's main newspaper, which shares all its content with the Gloucestershire Echo and the weekly Forester covering the Forest of Dean and Chepstow. As of 2018, these newspapers have all moved to weekly publication rather than daily.
BBC Radio Gloucestershire has its studios on London Road in Gloucester. Heart Gloucestershire, previously Severn Sound, is based in Eastgate Shopping Centre. Gloucester FM is a community radio station specialising in black and urban music. (Sunshine Radio, which broadcasts for Herefordshire and Monmouthshire, can also be picked up in the city).
Local radio is broadcast from transmitters on Churchdown Hill (Chosen Hill).
For regional television reception Gloucester is covered by BBC West and ITV West.
A number of TV and film productions have been filmed in Gloucester; most notably at the cathedral and docks. These include three of the Harry Potter films, Doctor Who, Outlaw and Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass.
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Notable residents of Gloucester have included: