16th Century Gloucester

Puritanism had grown in Gloucester during the late 1500s and by the early 1600s they had established a puritan lectureship. The ” great and good ” in particular had embraced Puritanism. During the 1620s and 1630s the alderman of the city tried to model the Schools and hospitals along more puritan lines. It must be remembered that great poverty existed at the time, and it was thought that the emphasis on discipline and godly ways were appropriate ways to enable people to better themselves. At the same time, the crown was promoting religious ideas ( Henry 8th ) that clashed with puritan ideas.

In 1642, Gloucester set up a committee of defence. The City gates were locked between 9pm and Sunrise, the watch was doubled and gunpowder,weapons and three cannon were bought.Prince Rupert had taken Cirencester by 1643 and rode into Gloucester to demand it’s surrender. Gloucester refused, but the city fortifications were not ready. The ancient defences were in poor order and when the West Gate drawbridge was raised, it fell into the river.

July 1643 saw the cavaliers taking Bristol, and Gloucester became the scene of intense activity . The Roman walls and gates were lined with clay, and earth bastions were built. The city was particularly vulnerable on the north west by the cathedral precinct wall but the land was marshy here and the city flooded the area.

Charles 1st reached Gloucester on August 1st 1643 and soon the city was surrounded by 30,000 royalist troops. On 10th August he sent a royal proclamation to the city, offering pardon to all if they would surrender at once. The reply was that Gloucester would ” Keep this city according to our oath and allegiance and doe conceive ourself bound to obey the commands of his majesty signified by both houses of parliament, and are resolved by Gods help to keep this city accordingly “. The battle of Gloucester began on this note.

The Royalists decided on a conventional siege, attacking the city from the east and south where there was good firm ground for the siege engines.King Charles was quartered at Matson House, just outside the city.The city defenders burnt down all the houses in the suburbs outside the walls, so as not to afford any cover for the attacking forces. The Kings men replied by cutting off the cities water pipes, and also diverted the Twyver streams so that the city had to drink Severn water and use horse mills to grind flour