For centuries Westgate street was the busiest and most important road in the city of Gloucester. The bridge over the river Severn, the longest in England was a crucial link to Bristol, London and Wales. The Fleece is one of the first interesting buildings to be seen in Upper Westgate. This was built in approximately 1500 by St.Peter’s Abbey ( as was The New Inn ). After the dissolution of the Abbey it was conveyed to Dean and Chapter of Gloucester Cathedral and by 1665 it was know as The Golden Fleece, reflecting the importance of the wool industry to the City. As the importance of wool declined the word Golden was dropped from it’s name. The church sold it in 1799 and today it remains a free house . Sadly the Fleece is now closed. Westgate Street has it’s own web site.
Gloucester cathedral is rightly acclaimed as one of the 7th most beautiful in the world. Built on an earlier Abbey the great south window was created in the reign of Edward 3rd. It is also famous for its beautiful cloisters and the wonderful perpendicular choir . The Abbey had several inns built and the New Inn can still be seen in Northgate St. The most outstanding feature of the nave is the Norman arcading with it’s huge columns that are 7 ft. wide and reach a height of 32 feet .
The East window, built in 1349 to commemorate the participation of local Knights in the battle of Crecy is the largest in England and measures 78 by 38 feet. (28.8m X 11.6m ) The Harry Potter film was recently filmed there.
On leaving the Cathedral , walk up College Court, a medieval lane which led to the layfolks cemetery, and there you will find The House of the Tailor of Gloucester .
This tiny shop , next to the Cathedral Gate is the home that Beatrix Potter chose for the tailor in her famous story The Tailor of Gloucester . It’s well worth a visit and there are other lovely little shops in the same street .This shop has been bought by new owners and was re opened by Victoria wood. It then closed and has now been bought by local business people and shares are available now to the public. It was opened by Patricia Routledge.
College Green is the street running off Westgate street to the Cathedral . Some interesting buildings can be seen there and a restaurant makes lunch a distinct possibility .Originally a narrow lane, it was widened in 1893. Opposite is a narrow lane that leads to Longsmith St. From here you are just around the corner from Gloucester Prison which has a museum and gift shop Three cocks lane leads round to Bishop Hoopers monument and St. Mary de Lode church. St Mary’s Gate, opposite the monument leads back to the Cathedral and to Kings School.
Walking further down Westgate Street , from here you will pass St. Nicholas Church which until recently still had an original sanctuary knocker on it’s door and a little further down and to the right St.Mary de Lode which is mentioned in the Doomsday book .Not far from the cathedral is the delightful Folk Museum a little further down Westgate street towards the river .There you will find the last remaining city gate and many other fascinating local exhibits including the remains of the stake that Bishop Hooper was tied to when burnt at the stake .The Folk Museum now has it’s own page. The fire went out 3 times as the reeds and wood were damp an eye witness account includes :
….but when he was black in the mouth and his tongue swollen that he could not speak,yet his lips went until they were shrunk to the gums,and he knocked his breast with his hands until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with the other, what time the fat,water and blood, dropped at his finger ends, until by renewing of the fire his strength was gone and his hand did cleave fast in knocking on the iron upon his breast.So, immediately bowing forwards he yielded up his spirit .