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Quick Facts on Gloucester Cathedral

Short URL
gohist.co/s/318226
Names
Cathedral Church of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity Cathedral Church of the Holy and Invisible Trinity, Gloucester (official) Gloucester Cathedral St. Peter's Abbey, Gloucester
Address
Westgate St. Gloucester
Location
Gloucester  locality
England  country
United Kingdom  country
Europe  continent
Main date(s)
1089-1350
Coordinates
51.867297° N, 2.246447° W
OS Grid Reference
SO 83121 18778
Admission
Donation requested. Minimum £3 donation requested from photographers. Tower tours £2.50, exhibition £2.

Listed Building Description

GLOUCESTER

SO8318NW CATHEDRAL PRECINCTS 844-1/8/42 Cathedral Church of the Holy and 23/01/52 Indivisible Trinity

GV I

Cathedral church. Formerly the conventual church of the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter on or near the site of a monastery founded by Osric c681. After the dissolution of the monastery the church refounded 1541 as a secular cathedral. Includes major portions of the Romanesque church built 1089-1100 for Abbot Serlo, the nave completed 1104-22, the timber roof of nave replaced by vault completed 1242; south aisle of nave rebuilt in Decorated style 1319-29; south transept remodelled with innovative use of Perpendicular details 1331-6; presbytery remodelled in developed Perpendicular style 1337-67, followed by the north transept 1368-73; the two west bays of nave and west front rebuilt and the south porch added c1420; central tower rebuilt c1450; Lady Chapel rebuilt late C15. Major repairs for Bishop Benson 1734-52; restorations by FW Waller 1847-63, Sir Gilbert Scott 1866-73, and FW Waller 1873-90, JL Pearson consultant for restoration of Lady Chapel 1896-7, C20 repairs.

MATERIALS: limestone ashlar and squared coursed rubble, lead and stone slate roofs. PLAN: cruciform, with tall central tower above crossing; aisled nave of nine bays, the principal entrance through a large, two storey porch projecting from the second bay of the south aisle of the nave; the choir, entered through pulpitum occupies the east bay of the nave and the crossing; north and south transepts each of two bays with a two storey, polygonal chapel projecting from the east side of each of the outer bays; ambulatory around presbytery of five bays with the east bay canted outwards to accommodate the greater width of the C14 great east window which replaced the C12 apse (evidence of early Romanesque pier left visible in the second pier from the NE corner at Tribune level); apsidal ambulatory with north-east and south east, two storey, radiating chapels with polygonal apses, the upper chapels entered from the tribune galleries above the aisles. Lady Chapel to east, entered below a gallery inserted to replace the section of the C12 tribune gallery removed in C14, of five bays, with symmetrical north and south chapels, with singing galleries above, which project from the fourth bay to the east; below the presbytery an apsidal crypt divided into three aisles and enclosed by an outer ambulatory aisle with three outer apsidal chapels at the east end and passages to crypt chapels below the transept chapels.

EXTERIOR:

WEST FRONT: gable-end of nave flanked by lower aisles; at the corners of the nave buttressed and panelled turrets with octagonal top stages supported by miniature flying buttresses and capped by spirelets; the west doorway with moulded jambs and arch in a rectangular frame, the wall crowned by an open-arcaded crenellated parapet; set back behind the parapet, within deep reveals, the great west window of nine lights divided by two buttressed king mullions, 3+3+3, with Perpendicular tracery; above the window arch panelled spandrels and an ogee gablet with finial above the crown of the arch rising into the centre of a crowning, open-arcaded parapet linking the corner turrets, and surmounted by a pierced cross; perpendicular windows in the end walls of the aisles and in the west bay of the south aisle.

SOUTH PORCH: heavily restored, projecting from the second bay of the south aisle; two storeys with buttressed, square angle turrets, the pierced top stages crowned by spirelets; on each side of the moulded entrance archway a canopied niche and above a row of six richly canopied niches filled in C19 with statues of saints by JL Redfern; crenellated, pierced parapets between the turrets with an open ogee arch rising through and above the front parapet and surmounted by a cross.

SOUTH AISLE: to east of porch the south aisle to the nave of seven bays each with a three-light window with identical Decorated tracery except for Perpendicular tracery in the seventh window, all the mouldings enriched with ball flower; aisle buttresses in three stages with the two lower stages capped by enriched gablets, canopied niche in the face of each upper stage and crowned by tall, crocketted, crowning pinnacles with gablets; the niches on three of the buttresses contain badly weathered C14 statues.

NAVE CLERESTORY: in each bay a three-light window with reticulated tracery in four-centred arches.

SOUTH TRANSEPT: at each outer corner a large, projecting C12 turret linked at lower level across the south, gable-end wall by a projecting wall face surmounted by a tier of blank arcading crowned by a parapet of open arcading; in the south gable wall and recessed behind the parapet, a large eight-light window divided by a king mullion, 4+4, with early Perpendicular tracery; the outer order of the window arch of reused C12 chevron moulding; in each spandrel a C12 blank arch cut by the insertion of the window and above, a crenellated, pierced parapet masking the lower part of the recessed C12 transept gable, the gable with a stepped blank arcade of five bays with chevron moulding and on the apex a crocketted finial; each corner turret of plain ashlar to the level of the transept parapet then a lower stage of blank interlaced arcading with double shafts and an upper stage of blank arcading with single shafts, each turret crowned by a small octagonal spire with finial; against the east and west walls massive raking buttresses added in C15 to support the central tower and in each wall a four-light Perpendicular window with four-centred arch; on the east side C12 polygonal projections containing chapels at crypt, aisle and tribune levels; at each level most of the original C12 windows altered and infilled with Perpendicular tracery; the ambulatory aisle to the presbytery and the south-east polygonal projection containing chapels also has C12 windows with inserted Perpendicular tracery. Clerestory to presbytery has a tall four-light window in each bay with transom and foiled panel tracery; great east window designed as a shallow bay with slightly canted sides; overall fourteen lights divided 4+6+4 by buttressed mullions at the angles of the bay, with transoms and Perpendicular tracery; the shallow end gable flanked by square corner turrets with the upper stages of open tracery panels and crowned by spirelets; on the gable between the turrets an open arcaded parapet with a cross at the apex; on each side a crenellated, open panel parapet.

LADY CHAPEL: on both sides in each bay a five-light window with transoms and Perpendicular tracery; in the fourth bay the projecting side chapels with loft storeys above rise to just below the springing level of the main window arches; at the east end diagonal corner buttresses and window of nine lights with transoms and Perpendicular tracery; crowning pinnacles at the corners, on the sides and the gable-end crenellated, open panel parapets. On north side of the church, except where former monastic buildings abut, details are generally similar to south side.

CENTRAL TOWER: two principal stages, both with elaborate Perpendicular panelling; at each corner a tall, square turret, the upper stages of open tracery panels with pierced spirelets; on both stages on each face a pair of two-light windows with flanking blind panels; a gablet over each window and each blind panel rising into a tall crocketted finial; between the pinnacles crenellated, open panel parapets.

INTERIOR:

SOUTH PORCH: blind Perpendicular panelling on the side walls incorporating a two-light window in each wall; lierne vault.

NAVE: two west bays with Perpendicular arcades and lierne vault, bays to east with C12 arcades with tall cylindrical piers with convex caps and semi-circular arches in three orders with chevron and billet mouldings; a low triforium; in each bay an arched pair of two-light arched openings with circular shafts, all on a continuous chevron base moulding; clerestory windows inserted in C15; C13 quadripartite, ribbed vault rises from clustered, corbelled shafts inserted above and below the triforium string course; north nave aisle has composite wall piers with scalloped capitals, quadripartite vault with plain transverse ribs and double roll diagonal ribs. South aisle has early C14 ribbed vault with the ribs of the three eastern bays decorated with ball flower.

SOUTH TRANSEPT: the C12 walls refaced with early Perpendicular panelling integrated with the glazed panels in the south window; on the east and west walls the panelling is intersected by the inner faces of the raking buttresses supporting the central tower; moulded wall piers support a complicated lierne vault; on the east side a screen incorporating a pair of doorways, on the left leading into the south aisle of the presbytery and on the right the entry to the crypt, the openings with elaborately moulded, ogee-arched heads and arches above with an angel carved in high relief in a foiled frame on each spandrel; on the pier to the right of the screen an angled lamp or image bracket, its soffit carved with a miniature vault and incorporating the figures of two masons, the younger apparently falling from the vault. Within the crossing the lierne vault is supported on the east and west sides by vertical ribs rising from the crowns of flying arches inserted between the C12 piers.

PRESBYTERY: the C12 arcades and galleries faced in C14 with grids of Perpendicular panelling, with open panels across the original voids, and continued into the C14 clerestory level; the bays are defined by wall shafts supporting the continuation of the lierne vault in the crossing.

NORTH TRANSEPT: C12 walls also faced with C14 Perpendicular panelling and with a lierne vault; rebuilt against the north wall an elaborate C13 stone screen with openings to a narrow, lateral vaulted chamber (built as reliquary); the front a symmetrical arcade of three bays with arched doorway in central bay and a two-light arched window inset in each side bay; Purbeck marble shafts with stiff leaf caps on the jambs of the arcade and the openings; foiled lights in the tympana of the arcade arches; the stops to the hoodmould over the central arch carved with crowned heads; in the north and south aisles of the presbytery the C12 arcade piers and quadripartite vaulting; chapels off the ambulatory vaulted.

LADY CHAPEL: the bays defined by moulded wall shafts supporting a lierne vault, fan vaults in both the side chapels; in the east bay on the south side a canopied sedillia and on the east wall the remains of a badly damaged reredos with canopied niches. CRYPT: between an outer, vaulted, ambulatory aisle and the central area an arcade of massive piers with some later strengthening; within the central area two rows of circular columns supporting bays of quadripartite groin vaulting.

FITTINGS: many important fittings including carved wooden canons' stalls with canopies and 58 misericords, c1350; with C14 painted panels on the backs of the stalls on the north side; in the sanctuary a decorative encaustic tile pavement, 1455, for Abbot Seabrooke; stalls and quire and presbytery floors by Sir George Gilbert Scott; high altar with elaborate reredos in Decorated style by Sir George Gilbert Scott with statues in niches by JL Redfern; medieval pulpitum refronted in C19 and supporting organ in a case with painted pipes of 1665; brass eagle lectern by JF Bentley; in the Lady Chapel a late C12 font from Lancaut; in the north transept a clock case in Art Nouveau style, 1903, by Henry Wilson.

STAINED GLASS: of major importance, the glass in the great east window believed to be a memorial of the Battle of Crecy but also incorporating some other panels of medieval glass; in the east window of the Lady Chapel a confused assembly of medieval glass of various dates; except for some medieval fragments other windows with C19 glass of varying quality, the majority by Christopher Whall and his daughter Veronica Whall.

MONUMENTS: many good funerary monuments of all periods including early C13 effigy of Duke Robert (Curthose) of Normandy on C15 tomb chest with an iron hearse frame; C13 canopied effigy of Abbot Serlo; alabaster effigy of King Edward II on Purbeck marble chest surmounted by elaborate arcaded canopy in sumptuous Decorated style, c1330; cenotaph monument to Osric as founder of monastery, c1330, for Abbot Parker; tomb of Abbot Parker with alabaster effigy, c1535; chantry chapel of Abbot Seabrooke, d1457, with alabaster effigy on tomb chest; alabaster effigies of Alderman Abraham Blackleach and wife; in wall of nave south aisle under an ogee- arched and vaulted canopy effigies of Sir Thomas and Lady Brydges; the kneeling figures of Alderman Thomas Machin and wife against screen of Corinthian columns supporting entablature, 1615; half-effigy of Alderman John Jones on wall tablet, 1630; effigies of Elizabeth Williams and infant, early C17; tablet to Sarah March by Flaxman, 1784; bust of the reformer Sir George Onesipherous Paul on sarcophagus by J Siever, 1820; and statue of Edward Joiner by Siever; in choir gallery a monument with bust to William Little by John Ricketts the Elder of Gloucester.

(VCH: The City of Gloucester: Oxford: 1988-: 275-286; BOE: Verey D: Gloucestershire: The Vale and the Forest of Dean: London: 1976-: 198-219; Welander D: The History, Art and Architecture of Gloucester Cathedral: Stroud, Gloucestershire: 1991-).

Listing NGR: SO8312118780

Source: The National Heritage List for England. Reprinted under license.

Description of Gloucester Cathedral

Reflecting several different periods, Gloucester Cathedral mirrors perfectly the slow growth of ecclesiastical taste and the development of the Perpendicular style. The plan is a standard Latin cross, with a long nave, single transept. The interior has mostly been spared the sterilizing attentions of modern architects and is predominantly Norman with major Perpendicular Gothic enhancements from the transepts eastwards.

Holly Hayes
October 27, 2011

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