The small town of Gloucester (pronounced Glos-ter), now the county town of Gloucestershire, was formerly a settlement for retired and old Roman soldiers and was later captured by the Anglo-Saxons. It came into its own during the rough Middle Ages when religious pilgrims moved to see Edward II’s tomb and funded the construction of one of England’s most magnificent cathedrals. That marvelous edifice remains the principal reason to visit, though Gloucester is also a central transport hub. Under the Victorians, the Gloucester Docks stood at the heart of a crucial canal network, and it’s still a significant rail junction.
Top Attractions in Gloucestershire
Gloucester’s magnificent cathedral is among the first and most excellent examples of the English Perpendicular Gothic style. Benedictine monks established a Norman church here in the 12th century CE on a Saxon abbey site. After Edward II disappeared mysteriously at nearby Berkeley Castle in 1327 CE, he was famously buried here, and his tomb became a pilgrimage place. Other elements, including the modern-day tower, were added to the church during the 15th century CE.
Inside, Gothic design and Norman Romanesque’s most delicate features are creatively combined, with strong columns forming a sense of loving solidity. The Cloister, which is featured in the first, second, and sixth Harry Potter films (Hi Potter heads <3 ), is a real highlight. Finished in 1367 CE, this airy space carries the oldest example of fan vaulting in the UK and is matched in excellence only by Henry VII’s chapel at the famous Westminster Abbey. When the European sun shines through, the rosy light-dappled Cotswold stone glows with bright light.
From the heartstopping 14th-century CE wooden choir stalls, you’ll get a fantastic view of the majestic 22m-high Great East Window. It is the size of a tennis court. It was the biggest in Europe when medieval designers installed it in the 1350s CE, and around 80% of the glass you notice today is still from that era.
Tailor of Gloucester Museum and Shop
Tucked into a tight lane opposite the major cathedral, this museum pays homage to Beatrix Potter and her enchanting Tailor of Gloucester storybook. Potter found motivation while visiting a cousin in 1894 CE, and her story of waistcoat-sewing mice unfolded in this very house, then home to a mystical real-life tailor. The small upper room is cluttered with plush bunnies, displays, mice and ducks, and masses of memorabilia, while downstairs is primarily given over to a shop retailing Potter-related gear.
National Waterways Museum Gloucester
The Gloucester Docks’ most giant warehouse, the towering, red-brick, 1873 CE Llanthony, houses a hands-on museum devoted to Britain’s inland waterways, which opened again after an extended revamp in 2018 CE. Displays incorporate all kinds of boat-related topics and boats, including the ‘boat people’ who survived on adorable narrowboats and moved goods up and down the river and canals’ complex network. There’s still a massive dredger out on the quayside, and it runs one-hour narrated canal cruises.
Gloucester Life Museum
Housed in a magnificent series of neighboring 16th- and 17th-century CE Tudor and timber-framed Jacobean constructions, this creaky-floored folk museum examines Gloucestershire’s crafts, domestic life, and industries from 1500 CE to the current-day.