Gloucester Cathedral is impressive in many ways; for its long history, as the burial place of kings and architecturally. In recent years, it has become celebrated as a Harry Potter movie location (in fact purists should note that filming took place in the attached cloisters, not strictly speaking within the cathedral).
Gloucester, a strategic crossing point of the Severn has been a settlement for a long time, and the first Christian religious house was recorded in the late 7th Century. Later a monastery was built and later still a Norman Abbey. Boomtime followed in the Middle Ages, after Edward II was buried here and pilgrims flocked to visit what was popularly called a shrine.
The Cathedral came into being when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and Gloucester Abbey became Gloucester Cathedral.
The visitor today can enjoy a calm, physically impressive space and will be drawn according to his or her own interests and priorities.
Architecturally, the fan vaulting in the cloisters is majestic and the progression through Norman and every style of Gothic is a history lesson in stone.
In terms of British history, this is where the Domesday Book was ordered, home of the Norman Winter Court (nearby Forest of Dean was a Royal hunting forest). You can see the tomb of Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror’s eldest son. Henry III was crowned here and the Edward II’s canopied shrine still causes you to catch your breath slightly.
The Cathedral and its buildings has been used as a location for several notable film and TV projects. The first, second and sixth Harry Potter movies were filmed here. The BBC productions of Doctor Who, The Hollow Crown, Wolf Hall and Sherlock filmed here too. In the cloisters a small part of the Harry Potter set has been left, to hide a light box.
Our favourite item of Cathedral trivia is that the huge and glorious stained-glass windows include the first image of golf being played, dating from 1350.
The Cathedral is, of course, a working house of God and the visitor should check for services and special events. The Three Choirs Festival happens here, on a rotating basis with Hereford and Worcester Cathedrals.
Cotswolds Finest Hotels Nearby
Gloucester is at the western edge of the Cotswolds and within easy reach of most hotels. Painswick Hotel is nearest.