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A Day in Gloucester

Ø June 22 Gloucester (Saturday)

Up before the alarm, I was cleaned up, packed and had cleared my presence from the flat. Off pushing the bag towards the Worcester Foregate Street station with about an hour to get there, but going along the Riverwalk to surface streets, a mile and a third trip. Figuring to cut through the marina and find a taxi and avoid the stairs at the cathedral, I headed down what turned out to be a driveway. The homeowner was returning from walking his dog, and offered to take me to my destination in his car. At that point I found out there are two train stations. Per my plans, we got to Foregate with time to spare. There I found out I’d ride a stop and change at the other station. No lift at Shrub Hill, and of course I had to climb and descend for a platform change. The train was near full, and continued to fill for the 45-minute ride to #Gloucester.

My journal indicates I found out as I was leaving that it had been fortuitous scheduling – Worcester Cathedral was holding ordinations Saturday and Sunday with the Archbishop in attendance. I would probably have never gotten near the church at all.

Gloucester was another day visit, so I needed to get to The New Inn to drop my bag. For once, the straight path had no misdirections, and 10 minutes later, I was on my way to the cathedral. My approach to the entrance itself was blocked when I reached the plaza; a military guard had formed up, awaiting orders to begin their parade march through town. After getting several pictures and surveying the situation, I skirted the crowd and go into the church.

Gloucester Cathedral

I’d planned on doing the three tours back-to-back at the Cathedral of St Peter the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, and my timing was close. However, due to events, the schedules were changed, but I was still able to get tours of the floor and crypt, and go on the tower tour. Score! Carole led us for both the floor and crypt tours, while Chris took us on the high parts tour. An Oregon couple with their 15-year-old son wound up doing the same series as me, so we were quite chummy by the time we finished, and they were off in their rental car for Norwich.

With white plastered spaces in the vault between the arches, the nave and side aisles are quite well lighted. This is a bright church!

North nave aisle of Gloucester Cathedral

We moved through the nave and into the quire, passing through a screen topped with the etched organ pipes. Carole pointed out many of the original misericords in the choir stalls, the carved cathedra next to the south side stalls, and the elaborately painted reredos at the high altar. The vault over the quire is intricate with many gold colored bosses. On to visit the tomb of Edward II, a controversial English ruler in the early fourteenth century. In the apse, a stunning triple set of four-panels of blue stained glass was awe inspiring.

Detail, King Edward II tomb

Carole, who is an archeologist, took us outside to point out to the six of us the way the building stones changed as the church was built from east to west. Returning to finish, she directed our attention to the spectacular fan-vaulting in the cross and transept. Then, for reasons I don’t remember, I stopped taking photos for an hour. Nothing in my notes, and nothing that I can recall. I resumed again, getting pictures of large stained-glass windows, some floor tile and then details of the #KingEdwardII tomb, before the crypt tour began at half twelve.

The tour group had grown to a dozen, and Carole was in her element below the main floor. The crypt has low ceilings, limited natural light, and little practical use at present. We did visit the room where Edward II’s body lay for several months, until they could give him a State Funeral. Discussing stone work and excavation discoveries, Carole made it quite interesting, but my pictures are good, but not exciting. She ended by bringing us upstairs and turning us over to Chris for the high parts tour.

Holding space in crypt

First into the space between the vault ceiling and the roof, I noted no drains. Asking about it, I was met with curiosity, as they’d not anticipated any reason for drains. Explaining the damage accumulated water used to extinguish a wood beam fire could do in bringing down the ceiling, Chris took it as an action item to raise it with the chapter officials. I was on a mission to get this accomplished on every tower tour. A couple of windows allowed views of the lead-covered roof of the nave, as well as the lower aisle roof. Then up into the bell tower, we observed the hanging peal in this mid-chamber and watched the mechanical clock works in action.

Then we continued climbing to achieve the roof of the tower. The day had become brilliantly beautiful, it was the first time for me that the temperature had broken 70°F. The views were spectacular. Descending so that we’d be on time, the Oregon trio took off, while I made a last pass through the church. Exiting, I tried to walk around the cathedral, getting only halfway before I took to the streets to get back to the Inn.

My commitment was that I would have a meal. The dining room was empty at 3pm when I returned. Ordering a Chicken Jalfrezi with an Atlantic ale, I go the impression that I could have just collected my bag and left. The curry was quite tasty, although one of the chicken pieces was still frozen. I guess it wasn’t freshly made?

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