1902 Encyclopedia > Gloucester (City), England

Gloucester (City), England

GLOUCESTER, the capital city of the above county, and a county of itself, 114 miles from London by railway, derives its name from the British Caer-Gloui, near which at Kings-holm the Romans formed their camp of Glevum, vestiges of which remain in four principal streets running N., S., E., andW., and crossingat the centre, as well as in Roman pavements, altars, coins, and pottery. A Roman station under Aulus Plautius, it became a city of Mercia, by name Gleauanceastre, under the Saxons, and is named by Bede as one of the noblest cities in the land. A monastery was founded here in 679, in which in 1022 Bishop Wulstan of Worcester established the Benedictine rule. In the 8th century the city was repeatedly ravaged and burnt by the Danish invaders, and endured ruinous conflicts up to the time of the settlement between Canute and Edmund Ironside. The abbey throve from the time of Canute, the foundations of the present church having been laid by

Gloucester Cathedral.
Abbot Serlo (1072-1104), and Walter Frocester, its historian, becoming its first mitred abbot in 1381. Edward the Confessor often resided at Gloucester, and it was a favourite resort of the Norman kings, of whom Henry I. met with his death from a surfeit of lampreys, for which he ac-quired a taste there. Henry II. held a great council there (1175), and Henry III. was crowned in the abbey, and " loved Gloucester better than London." The " statute of Gloucester" was passed (1278) in one of several parliaments held there ; but the tide of royal favour experienced an ebb when Charles I. subjected the city, garrisoned by the Par-liamentarians, to a critical siege, which was eventually raised in September 1643 by the earl of Essex. Until 1541 the whole of Gloucestershire lay in Worcester diocese, but in that year it was constituted the see of Gloucester, with the abbey church for its cathedral, and John Wakeman, last abbot of Tewkesbury, for its first bishop. The cathedral may be succinctly described as " a Norman carcase," altered by additions in every style of Gothic architecture. It is 420 feet long, and 144 broad, with a beautiful central tower rising to the height of 225 feet, and topped by four graceful pinnacles. The nave is massive Norman with Early English roof ; the crypt also, under the choir, aisles, and chapels, is Norman, as is also the chapter house. The south porch is Perpendicular, with fan-tracery roof, as also is the north transept, the south being transitional Decorated. The choir has Perpendicular tracery and an apsidal chapel on each side, and the triforium carried under the east win-dow in a curve, so as to form a whispering gallery, is very noteworthy. Between the apsidal chapels is a cross lady-chapel, and north of the nave are the cloisters with very early example of fan-tracery, the carols or stalls for the monks' study and writing lying to the south. The beautiful tower is 15th century work. For several years an extensive process of restoration has been in progress. The finest monument is the canopied shrine of Edward II., who was brought hither from Berkeley. By the visits of pilgrims to this the building and sanctuary were enriched. In a side-chapel, too, is a monument in coloured bog oak of Robert Curthose, a great benefactor to the abbey, the eldest son of the Conqueror, who was interred there; and those of Bishop Warburton and Dr Edward Jennerare also worthy of special mention. One of the oldest houses in the city is the " New Inn in the Northgate Street," a strong and massive timbered house with external galleries and court yards, built in 1450 for the pilgrims to Edward IP's shrine, by Abbot Sebroke, a traditional subterranean passage leading thence to the cathedral. The timber is principally chestnut.

1. St Mark's Church.
2. Ruins of St Oswald's
3. St Bartholomew Hos-
4. St Mary de Lode and
Hooper's Monument.
5. Dominican Monastery
14. St Michael's Church.
15. Post-Office.
16. Corn Exchange.
17. Meat and Vegetable
Market. IS. St Mary de Crypt.
19. County Gaol.
20. Custom House.
21. St Luke's Church.
Plan of Gloucester.
0. St Nicholas Church.
7. FranciscanMonastery
8. County Hall.
9. Theatre.

10. St John's Church.
11. Wesleyan Chapel.
12. United Hospitals.
13. Blue Coat School.

Gloucester is situated on a gentle eminence overlooking the Severn, and sheltered by the Coteswolds on the east, while the Malverns rise prominently to the west. The Tolsey or town-hall stands at the cross, the point of intersection of the four principal streets, in each of which are various quaintly gabled and timbered houses, helping to preserve the ancient aspect of the city. The most modern quarter of it is in and south of the region of the spa, where a chalybeate spring was discovered in 1814. The principal public buildings are the shire hall, the town hall or Tolsey (occupy-ing the site of the ancient Roman capitol), the county gaol and penitientiary, the East-gate market, the corn market, the infirmary, the lunatic asylum, and the hospital erected in 1861 in place of the four old almshouses. There are 14 churches and several dissenting chapels, and it may have been the olden proverb, " as sure as God's in Gloucester," which provoked Oliver Cromwell to declare that the city had "more churches than godliness." Of the churches four are of special interest: St Mary de Lode, with a very old chancel, and a monument of Bishop Hooper; St Mary de Crypt, a cruciform structure of the 12th century, with a beautiful and lofty tower; the church of St Michael, said to have been connected with the ancient abbey of St Peter, and from whose tower the curfew bell is still rung every evening; and St Nicholas church, originally of Norman erection, and possessing a tower and other portions of later date. A new episcopal palace was erected in 1862. There are three endowed schools: the College school, re-founded by Henry VIII., as part of the cathedral establishment ; the Crypt school, founded by Dame Joan Cooke in the same reign; and Sir Thomas Rich's Blue Coat Hospital for 34 boys (1666). The first Sunday school was held in Gloucester, being originated by Robert Raikes. Gloucester has returned two members to parliament since the 23d year of Edward I. The city was chartered by Richard III., and is now governed by a mayor, nine alder-men, and twenty-seven burgesses. Its ancient industries were iron-founding, cloth-making, pin-making, and bell-founding, but the last two have been for some time discon-tinued. It now possesses match works, foundries, marble and slate works, saw-mills, chemical works, rope works, flour-mills, manufactories of railway waggons, engines, and agri-cultural implements, and boat and ship-building yards. In 1877 the number of British ships that entered the port was 3762, with a tonnage of 272,391, and of foreign ships 549, with a tonnage of 167,200; the number of British ships that cleared was 3992, with a tonnage of 278,773, and of foreign ships 488, with a tonnage of 144,581. The principal imports are timber, corn, wine, and spirits, and the principal exports iron, coals, malt, salt, bricks, and pottery. The town is celebrated for its Severn salmon and lampreys. Near the canals and docks are the remains (a gateway and some walls) of Llanthony Priory, a cell of the mother abbey in the vale of Ewyas, Monmouthshire, which in the reign of Edward IV. had become the secondary establishment. The famous bore of the Severn attains its great height just below Gloucester. The area of the municipal borough is 415 acres, and of the parlia-mentary borough 1606 acres. The population of the municipal and parliamentary borough in 1861 was 16,512; that of the municipal borough in 1871 was 18,330, and of the parliamentary borough (extended since 1861) 31,804. The municipal and parliamentary boroughs now coincide.

See Handbook to the Cathedrals of England, Western Division, 1864; General Architectural Description of the Cathedral Church at Gloucester, with Plans and Sketches, by Frederick S. Waller, F.R.I.B.A., 1856. (J. DA.)

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