I spent an hour or two in Gloucester on Tuesday, It was pouring with rain so I ventured inside this beautiful Cathedral, so glad I did!
Gloucester is one of the six former abbey churches which became
cathedrals at the Reformation under Henry VIII’s “New Foundation”. Before that it was the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter.
This has been a Christian site for over 1300 years, since a minster was founded here c 679 by Osric, Prince of Mercia. But the present building was (and still is, substantially) the work of the first Norman abbot, Serlo, chaplain to William the conqueror. The foundation stone was laid in 1089, the eastern end was dedicated in 1100, and the entire church finished by c 1130.
The abbey was a wealthy and important monastery church throughout the middle ages; in 1216 Henry III, then a boy of nine, was hurriedly crowned king here.
On 21 September 1327 King Edward II died (reputedly murdered) while imprisoned at Berkeley Castle. The funeral - in effect a state occasion - was held at St Peter’s Abbey that December. A magnificent shrine-like tomb was erected, and the noble families who supported the new young king Edward III paid for the re-modeling of the eastern end of the church in what was then a brand-new style of architecture, later known as ‘perpendicular’. For about 80 years the tomb was a focus for visiting pilgrims who brought further wealth to the abbey and the city.
The monastery was dissolved in 1540, and became the Cathedral Church for the new Diocese of Gloucester in 1541 - seemingly it escaped the destruction suffered by other monastic centres because of its royal connections.
My thanks for your time, as always your thoughts/comments are very welcome.
Kind regards - Sarah J x
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