Gloucestershire hosts many of the loveliest looking villages in the Cotswolds. One might therefore assume that its capital, Gloucester, would look even better than the sum of its parts. One would be wrong.
When I stepped out of the station, my initial thought was that the train had changed direction and landed me in Slough. If there was an award for worst impression upon unsuspecting travellers, Gloucester would be sure to be nominated. Walking up towards the town centre did not really improve my mood or feelings. Between large ugly buildings, unkempt areas, shopping centres that were old fashion even before they were built and sad looking squares, the only thing that got my attention was a roast pig sandwich in the street market. Come on Emma, I urged myself, you can’t go back and write the best thing about Gloucester was roast pig sandwich.
Fortunately, the little bit of general culture I possess directed me towards the cathedral and there, I had an epiphany. From the outside, the cathedral looks like many other gothic cathedrals of the same time. Imposing, intricate, made of spires and tainted glass and a little intimidating. When I entered I looked briefly around and thought that it was Notre Dame’s distant little cousin, nice but no more. I even considered not buying the £3 photo permit. Then I opened the door towards the cloister and tramped over two older women saying grace, a baby and a nun in order to get that permit.
Altogether I spent longer inside the cathedral than in Gloucester. It is a truly marvelous piece of architecture, not at all Notre Dame’s distant little cousin but the head of the family. Each of the numerous chapels have their own atmosphere, their own history and stained glass from all ages. Numerous kings and knights rest there, among which, my mum will have me say, my ancestor Robert the Second duke of Normandy and son of Guillaume le conquérant. She can prove the ancestry too. The devil finds things to do for idle retired hands, isn’t that the saying?
So many things took my breath away in this cathedral I might as well have been running a marathon. Among them is the beautifully sculpted cloister, the central stained glass, the view from the cloister’s garden, the modern stained glass panels, the oriental chapel and the fact that I didn’t know multi-storey cathedrals existed. My pictures don’t do this place justice. If you have the time and inclination, this is a must see. Just close your eyes on the way there and back.
Beautiful! I do believe it was used as a location for some of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. Lovely stained glass.
Indeed it was. That’s an excuse to watch the films again.
I had the same reactions you did – see https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/a-slow-day-in-gloucester/
Fortunately I had believed Lonely Planet when it told me not to stay in Gloucester, and I stayed in Worcester instead. Much nicer!
I need to get a guide! Worcester is much nicer, or Cheltenham, I could not believe the difference. In your post you say you missed Tewkesbury, which is also very special and different. Perhaps next time you are in the region.
Hope there will be a next time, but am thinking Cornwall and the Scilly Isles for the next UK trip.
I agree. Gloucester Cathedral is one of the best in England. Did you get to Gloucester Docks? Lots of new shops and restaurants!
No I missed the docks. I was on foot and never saw any sign pointing towards them. Didn’t know they existed before you mentioned them! If there is a next time I’ll go have a look.
The docks lay derelict for many years until recent regeneration.
Quelle magnifique cathédrale!
You are right in part about Gloucester, but you need to dig a bit deeper. It’s rough, there’s no doubt about that, but I lived there for some years and it is one of the friendliest places to be. The Docks are a must see, and there’s more history in Gloucester than almost anywhere I know. Go on a Heritage Weekend in the Summer and you’ll find the bits you should look for.Go to a rugby match at Kingsholm, it’s an experience you won’t find in many other places and make sure you are in the Shed. Go to Eastgate market and find the fishmonger in the corner, there are none better or more reasonably priced. Get a hot sausage roll from Farmhouse ( in the market and in Northgate Street ) and listen to your arteries hardening, but the taste!!! Far too many people write off Gloucester, aside from the Cathedral, which is a gem, there’s a lot more to discover there.
I don’t dispute there must be little gems all around as there are in most places, often making a big difference. I have missed the docks for instance and might go another time but most people will spend a day or half a day in Gloucester and it doesn’t look like much effort is being made into making the town that little bit more inviting.
Although I loved the roast pig sandwich I now regret missing Farmhouse and its sausage rolls!
I did visit the docks, and even took a ride on a boat. I’m afraid the only thing that impressed me was that the boat had participated in the Dunkirk evacuation.
Well you tried…Not sure I will bother, even if the boat was in the Dunkirk evacuation!
I did the docks and Gloucester Cathedral. There’s the Gloucester Brewery in the docks area that is good too – free tastings! But agreed, for more than a half day or so it’s a bit meh.