|Cathedral Church of St Peter|
and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity
|Denomination||Church of England|
|Style||Romanesque & Gothic|
|Demolished||dissolved by King Henry VIII|
|Nave length||174ft (53m)|
|Choir length||140ft (42m)|
|Nave width||34ft (10m)|
|Width across transepts||43.9m|
|Nave height||68ft (21m)|
|Choir height||86ft (26m)|
|Number of towers||1|
|Diocese||Gloucester (since 1541)|
|Canon(s)||Nikki Arthy (City Rector)|
|Canon Missioner||Andrew Braddock (DMM)|
|Director of music||Adrian Partington|
|Chapter clerk||Emily Shepherd (COO)|
|Lay member(s) of chapter||Canon Peter Clark, Canon John Coates, Canon Paul Mason|
Gloucester Cathedral, formally the Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, in Gloucester, England, stands in the north of the city near the River Severn. It originated in 678 or 679 with the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter (dissolved by Henry VIII).
Wardle records that in 1058 Ealdred, Bishop of Worcester at the time, rebuilt the church of St Peter. The foundations of the present church were laid by Abbot Serlo (1072–1104). Walter Frocester (d. 1412) the abbey's historian, became its first mitred abbot in 1381. Until 1541, Gloucester lay in the see of Worcester, but the separate see was then constituted, with John Wakeman, last abbot of Tewkesbury, as its first bishop. The diocese covers the greater part of Gloucestershire, with small parts of Herefordshire and Wiltshire. The cathedral has a stained-glass window depicting the earliest images of golf. This dates from 1350, over 300 years earlier than the earliest image of golf from Scotland. There is also a carved image of people playing a ball game, believed by some to be one of the earliest images of medieval football.
Construction and architecture
The cathedral, built as the abbey church, consists of a Norman nucleus (Walter de Lacy is buried there), with additions in every style of Gothic architecture. It is 420 feet (130 m) long, and 144 feet (44 m) wide, with a fine central tower of the 15th century rising to the height of 225 ft (69 m) and topped by four delicate pinnacles, a famous landmark. The nave is massive Norman with an Early English roof; the crypt, under the choir, aisles and chapels, is Norman, as is the chapter house. The crypt is one of the four apsidal cathedral crypts in England, the others being at Worcester, Winchester and Canterbury.
The south porch is in the Perpendicular style, with a fan-vaulted roof, as also is the north transept, the south being transitional Decorated Gothic. The choir has Perpendicular tracery over Norman work, with an apsidal chapel on each side: the choir vaulting is particularly rich. The late Decorated east window is partly filled with surviving medieval stained glass. Between the apsidal chapels is a cross Lady chapel, and north of the nave are the cloisters, the carrels or stalls for the monks' study and writing lying to the south. The cloisters at Gloucester are the earliest surviving fan vaults, having been designed between 1351 and 1377 by Thomas de Cantebrugge.
The most notable monument is the canopied shrine of Edward II of England who was murdered at nearby Berkeley Castle (illustration below). The building and sanctuary were enriched by the visits of pilgrims to this shrine. In a side-chapel is a monument in coloured bog oak of Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror and a great benefactor of the abbey, who was interred there. Monuments of William Warburton (Bishop of Gloucester) and Edward Jenner (physician) are also worthy of note. The Abbey was the site of the coronation of Henry III. This is commemorated in a stained-glass window in the south aisle.
In September 2016 Gloucester Cathedral joined the Church of England’s ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ campaign. The aim of this campaign is to reduce The Church of England’s carbon emissions collectively, by 80%. In order to help reach this target Gloucester Cathedral commissioned local solar company Mypower to install an array on the nave of Gloucester Cathedral. Purportedly the solar array will reduce Gloucester Cathedral’s energy costs by 25%. The installation was completed by November 2016. The 1000-year-old Cathedral is now the oldest building in the world to have undergone a solar installation.
The cathedral has forty-six 14th-century misericords and twelve 19th-century replacements by Gilbert Scott. Both types have a wide range of subject matter: mythology, everyday occurrences, religious symbolism and folklore.
Dean and chapter
As of 30 January 2019:
- Dean — Stephen Lake (since 12 June 2011 installation)
- Canon Precentor & Director of Congregational Development — Richard Mitchell (since 10 September 2016 installation)
- Canon Chancellor — Celia Thomson (since 15 March 2003 installation; previously Pastor)
- City Centre Rector (Diocesan Canon) — Nikki Arthy (since 2009; Rector of St Mary de Lode, St Mary de Crypt and Hempsted)
- Director of Mission and Ministry (Diocesan Canon) — Andrew Braddock (since 2 February 2013 installation)
- Archdeacon of Gloucester (Diocesan Canon) — Hilary Dawson (since 27 January 2019 collation)
In medieval times, daily worship was sung by boys and monks from the abbey. The Cathedral's current choir was established by King Henry VIII in 1539, and at present is composed of 18 boy and 20 girl choristers, as well as 12 adult singers. The choristers attend the King's School, which was also founded by Henry VIII. The choir sings regularly during term time and at major religious festivals such as Christmas or Easter. It also takes part in concerts and has been featured in choral evensong on BBC Radio 3.
The organ was originally constructed in 1666 by Thomas Harris and has the only complete 17th-century cathedral organ case surviving in the country. The pipes displayed on the front of the case are still functional. The organ was extended and modified by nearly all of the established UK organ builders, including Henry "Father" Willis who worked on the organ in 1847 and rebuilt it in 1888–89. It was rebuilt again in 1920 by Harrison & Harrison.
In 1971 Hill, Norman and Beard performed a total redesign, under the supervision of Cathedral Organist John Sanders and consultant Ralph Downes. In 1999 Nicholson & Co overhauled the organ, when the soundboards, pipework and wind supply were renovated and the computer system was updated. In 2010 Nicholson also added a Trompette Harmonique solo reed.
The organ comprises four manuals and pedals. It is designed particularly to play from its position on the Quire screen to both East and West sides of the Cathedral. The Swell is situated in the centre of the case at console level and is controlled by two swell pedals, one for each side of the case. Directly above the Swell is the Great organ which is split into East and West divisions; it comprises two separate principal choruses. The fourth manual is a West Positive, mirroring the function of the Choir organ for the West side of the Cathedral.
In 1582, Robert Lichfield is recorded as the organist of Gloucester Cathedral. Notable among the organists are composers and choral conductors of the Three Choirs Festival, Herbert Brewer, Herbert Sumsion and John Sanders. Herbert Howells, who was a pupil of Brewer, composed a Magnificat and Nunc dimittis for Gloucester Cathedral
Three Choirs Festival
An annual musical festival, the Three Choirs Festival, is hosted by turns in this cathedral and those of Worcester and Hereford in rotation. The Three Choirs is the oldest annual musical festival in the world.
Clock and bells
The Cathedral's clock, bells and the chimes are referred to in a repair agreement of 1525. The present clock, installed in 1898, is by Dent and Co, who built the clock for Big Ben. There is no external dial, but there is a fine Art Nouveau clock face in the north transept, dating from 1903, designed by Henry Wilson.
The bells were rehung and augmented in 1978 to give a ring of twelve. The two oldest bells date from before 1420, so they are older than the present tower. The bells are rung 'full circle' by the Cathedral's band of ringers for the weekly practice session In addition there is Great Peter, the largest medieval bell in Britain, weighing a fraction under three tons. Great Peter is the hour bell and can also be heard ringing before the main services.
Burials and monuments
Gloucester Cathedral has a large collection of funerary monuments from the Middle Ages to the present. Notable people buried at Gloucester Cathedral include:
- Osric, king of the Hwicce
- Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror
- Edward II of England, seventh Plantagenet king of England (1307–1327)
- John Wakeman, last Abbot of Tewkesbury and first Bishop of Gloucester (1541–1550)
- James Brooks Bishop of Gloucester (1554–1558)
- Richard Cheyney, Bishop of Gloucester (1562–1579)
- John Bullingham, Bishop of Gloucester (1581–1598)
- Members of the Hyett family from the 17th and 18th centuries, whose remains were discovered accidentally in November 2015.
- William Nicholson Bishop of Gloucester (1660–1672)
- Martin Benson, Bishop of Gloucester (1734–1752)
- Richard Pate, landowner and Member of Parliament for Gloucester
- Thomas Machen, mercer who was mayor of Gloucester three times and one time Member of Parliament for the city
- Dorothea Beale, Principal of the Cheltenham Ladies' College, educational reformer and suffragist
- Ralph Bigland (1712–1784), Garter Principal King of Arms
- Miles Nightingall (1768–1829), army general
- Albert Mansbridge (1876–1952), pioneer of adult education in Britain
- John Yates (1925–2008), Bishop of Gloucester 1975–92
Tomb of Osric, king of the Hwicce
Tomb of Robert Curthose
Tomb of Thomas Machen
Tomb of Edward II of England
Memorial to Ralph Bigland
Memorial to John Stafford Smith
Grave of Albert Mansbridge
Memorial to John Yates
Detail of monument to Sarah Morley in Gloucester cathedral
Film and TV location
- Harry Potter
- Doctor Who
- The Hollow Crown
- Wolf Hall
- Mary Queen of Scots
The cathedral is also used during school term-time as the venue for assemblies (known as morning chapel) by The King's School, Gloucester, and for events by the Denmark Road High School, Crypt Grammar School, Sir Thomas Rich's School for boys and Ribston Hall High School.
- 678-9 A small religious community was founded in Saxon times by Osric of the Hwicce. His sister Kyneburga was the first abbess.
- 1017 Secular priests expelled; the monastery given to Benedictine monks.
- 1072 Serlo, the first Norman abbot, appointed to the almost defunct monastery by William I.
- 1089 Foundation stone of the new abbey church laid by Robert de Losinga, Bishop of Hereford.
- 1100 Consecration of St Peter’s Abbey.
- 1216 First coronation of Henry III.
- 1327 Burial of Edward II.
- 1331 Perpendicular remodelling of the quire.
- 1373 Great Cloister begun by Abbot Horton; completed by Abbott Frouster (1381–1412)
- 1420 West End rebuilt by Abbot Morwent.
- 1450 Tower begun by Abbot Sebrok; completed by Robert Tully.
- 1470 Lady Chapel rebuilt by Abbot Hanley; completed by Abbot Farley (1472–98).
- 1540 Dissolution of the abbey.
- 1541 Refounded as a cathedral by Henry VIII.
- 1616–21 William Laud holds the office of Dean of Gloucester
- 1649–60 Abolition of dean and chapter, reinstated by Charles II
- 1666 Installation of Great Organ by Thomas Harris
- 1735–52 Martin Benson, Bishop of Gloucester, carried out major repairs and alterations to the cathedral.
- 1847–73 Beginning of extensive Victorian restoration work (Frederick S. Waller and George Gilbert Scott, architects).
- 1953 Major appeal for the restoration of the cathedral; renewed
- 1968 Cathedral largely re-roofed and other major work completed.
- 1989 900th anniversary appeal.
- 1994 Restoration of tower completed.
- 2000 Celebration of the novecentennial of the consecration of St Peter’s Abbey.
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