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Gloucester Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Undivided Trinity, in Gloucestermarker, Englandmarker, stands in the north of the city near the river. It originated with the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter in 678 or 679 (dissolved by King Henry VIII of England).



The foundations of the present church were laid by Abbot Serlo (1072-1104), later to become the first Dean of Exetermarker. Walter Gloucester (d. 1412) its 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 Tewkesburymarker, as its first bishop. The diocese covers the greater part of Gloucestershiremarker, with small parts of Herefordshiremarker and Wiltshiremarker. The cathedral has a stained glass window containing 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 consists of a Norman nucleus (Walter de Lacymarker is buried there), with additions in every style of Gothic architecture. It is long, and wide, with a fine central tower of the 15th century rising to the height of and topped by four delicate pinnacles, a famous landmark. The nave is massive Norman with 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 Worcestermarker, Winchestermarker and Canterburymarker.

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 carols 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 Cambridge.

The cathedral from the south west in 1895

The most notable monument is the canopied shrine of King Edward II of England who was murdered at nearby Berkeley Castlemarker (see illustration further down page). By the visits of pilgrims to this the building and sanctuary were enriched. In a side-chapel, too, 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; and those of Bishop Warburton and Dr Edward Jenner are also worthy of note.

Between 1873 and 1890, and in 1897, the cathedral was extensively restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott.


The cathedral has forty-six 14th century misericords and twelve 19th century misericords, the latter being replacements by George Gilbert Scott. Both the types have a wide range of subject matter--mythology, everyday occurrences, religious symbolism and folklore.


Three Choirs Festival

A musical festival (the Three Choirs Festival) is held annually in this cathedral and those of Worcestermarker and Herefordmarker in turn.The festival is held in every third year at Gloucester and is the oldest annual musical festival in the world. Three Choirs Festival


Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register


The known organists of the cathedral are listed below. In modern times, the most senior post has become known as Director of Music; only these names are recorded here.

  • 1582 Robert Lichfield
  • 1620 Elias Smith
  • 1620 Philip Hosier
  • 1638 Berkeley Wrench
  • 1640 John Okeover
  • 1662 Robert Webb
  • 1665 Thomas Lowe
  • 1666 Daniel Henstridge
  • 1673 Charles Wren

Assistant organists

  • William Hine 1707 - 1710 (later organist of Gloucester Cathedral)
  • George Robertson Sinclair 1879 - 1880 (later organist at Truro Cathedralmarker and Hereford Cathedralmarker)
  • George Washbourn Morgan
  • Ivor Gurney
  • Ambrose Robert Porter 1907 - 1913 (later organist of Lichfield Cathedralmarker)
  • Reginald Tustin Baker 1920 - 1926 (later organist of Sheffield Cathedralmarker)
  • Arthur John Pritchard 1927 - 1932
  • Alfred Melville Cook 1932 - 1937 (later organist of Hereford Cathedralmarker)
  • Donald Frederick Hunt 1948 - 1954
  • Wallace Michael Ross 1954 - 1958 (later organist of Derby Cathedralmarker)
  • John Sanders 1958 - 1963
  • Richard Latham
  • John Francis Clough
  • Andrew Millington 1975 - 1983 (later organist of Guildford Cathedralmarker)
  • Mark Blatchly 1983 - 1990
  • Mark Lee 1990 - 1998
  • Ian Ball 1998 - 2002
  • Robert Houssart 2002 - 2008
  • Ashley Grote 2008 - current

See also the List of Organ Scholars at Gloucester Cathedral.

Use by schools and as a film location

Involvement with Harry Potter films

The cathedral has been used from 2000 as a location for filming the first, second and sixth Harry Potter films, which has generated revenue and publicity, but caused some controversy amongst those who suggest that the theme of the films was unsuitable for a church.

Doctor Who

In 2008 the Cathedral was used by BBC Wales as a location for the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

Academic use

University of Gloucestershire

Degree ceremonies of the University of Gloucestershiremarker take place at the cathedral.

The King's School

The cathedral is also used during school term-time as the venue for regular school assemblies, known as morning chapel by The King's School, Gloucestermarker which is deeply historically and physically connected to the cathedral, and also for events by the High School for Girls (Denmark Road, Gloucester), the Crypt Grammar School for boys and Ribston Hall High School.


  • 678-9 A small religious community was founded here 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 King Henry III.
  • 1327 Burial of King 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 Abbey
  • 1541 Refounded as a Cathedral by King Henry VIII.
  • 1616-21 William Laud holds the office of dean of Gloucester.
  • 1649-60 Abolition of Dean and Chapter, reinstated by Charles II.
  • 1735-52 Martin Benson, Bishop of Gloucester carried out major repairs and alterations to the cathedral.
  • 1847-73 Beginning of extensive Victorian restoration work (F.S.Waller and Sir 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 900 years after the consecration of St Peter’s Abbey

See also


  1. Simmons (1962) Who's who in music and musicians' international directory p.168
  2. Simmons (1962) Who's who in music and musicians' international directory p.45
  3. Information for the Ceremonies held at Gloucester Cathedral University of Gloucestershire website


  • Published in America as

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