August 16, 2016: I had had thoughts of visiting Tewkesbury on the way to or from Gloucester, but on closer examination the bus timetables didn’t work terribly well, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to a lot of trouble to see an abbey when I was already seeing three cathedrals in the neighborhood. The trains to Gloucester weren’t very user-friendly either, basically only running once every two hours. Still, they did run, although Gloucester station was a bit out of the center, and the walk wasn’t through the nicest part of town. I was glad I wasn’t doing it with luggage.
The cathedral was my main target, so I started there, beginning by walking the big cloth labyrinth just inside the west door. The labyrinth was on loan fron the US, and I suspected I had already walked it when it was in Duke Chapel. Next I took a look at the very Norman crypt, along with four other people and a volunteer guide. The crypt had, of course, been holding up the very heavy weight of the cathedral for nearly a millennium, and necessary repairs were often visible. After we resurfaced, the other people took off, and I had a guide to myself for the body of the cathedral.
While much of the fabric was Norman, later Perpendicular windows provided more light than was usual in a Norman church. Most of the stained glass was later still, dating from the Victorian era. The cathedral was an impressive 426 feet (130 meters) long, but the view was interrupted by the installation of the organ above the choir screen. Notable burials included Prince Arthur, Henry VII’s oldest son and first husband of Catherine of Aragon, and Edward II, deposed in 1327 and murdered in Berkeley Castle in 1330. The presence of his remains in Gloucester Cathedral led to royal patronage and maybe saved the building (then a Benedictine abbey) from destruction at the time of the Reformation. The abbey’s cloisters were still intact and boasted some very nice fan vaulting.
My afternoon options included a canal boat ride and the folk museum. Unfortunately, I made the wrong choice, as the boat ride was quite uninteresting, and the folk museum closed too early for me to see it as well. The boat used for the cruise turned out, much to my surprise, to have participated in the small boat rescue of the troops at Dunkirk in 1940. I wouldn’t have thought it capable of service in the English Channel. I could have visited the Docks Museum, but it looked like it was mostly devoted to machinery and I visited the City Museum instead, which included a special exhibition of robots from film and TV. I also took a look at the “Tailor of Gloucester” shop, and some nice Tudor buildings on the main street, but I wound up killing time before the next train back to Worcester.