November 11 – Gloucester Cathedral and A Remembrance Day Parade

A New Housesit Near Ross-on-Wye

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today we planned to go to Gloucester Cathedral on our way to our next housesit near the Welsh border near Ross on Wye. We left the housesit by about 10.30 checking to make sure we had everything. Hours later when we were about five minutes from our housesit I was thinking that we needed to get some milk but we didn’t, as I have some in the fridge. Oh no! I forgot to empty the fridge so we lost five yoghurts, half a kilo of cheese, margarine, milk, salami and yet another freezer pad. Seriously how could I have been so dumb? The housesit is a 15-minute drive from a supermarket so we will have to go shopping tomorrow. Of course, it is Sunday and all the supermarkets close at 4 pm.

We arrived at Gloucester Cathedral at 11.20 when we were politely told that the church service would not open until 12 so we took a few photos of the outside of the church and wandered up the main street looking a the shops. There are quite a few empty shops so looks a bit sad. We found a Vodafone shop where we asked if we would be able to use our phone in New Zealand. We changed to a new plan which will allow us to use our data while in New Zealand giving us a little extra data and costs £5 more a month but a much better plan than we had which would charge us £6 every day we used the phone in New Zealand. We also brought a new power pack which should charge the phone four times on one charge. Nice to have all that sorted out.

As we left the shop we noticed that people were lining the street for the Remembrance Day Parade which was due to start at 12. So we joined the small crowd. First came the Salvation Army band and just before it got to us one of the band tripped or collapsed. The parade stopped while the gentleman was helped to one side and it was off again. There were army, navy, and groups of cadets of all forces including St Johns Ambulance and Community Police cadets. There were also gentlemen who had served in the forces wearing their medals. It was very moving to see. Then we moved down to the Cathedral.

We purchased a visitor photography permit to allow Mike to take as many photos as he wants and then followed the written guide around the cathedral together. The Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, in Gloucester, England, stands in the north of the city near the River Severn. The abbey originated in 678 or 679  and was dedicated to Saint Peter. Abbot Serlo (1072–1104) was appointed by William the Conqueror in 1072 and he planned the new Abbey in the Romanesque style. It was consecrated in 1100.

The cathedral, built as the abbey church, consists of a Norman nucleus with additions in every style of Gothic architecture. It is 420 feet (130 m) long, and 144 feet (44 m) wide, with a 15th-century central tower rising to the height of 225 ft (69 m) and topped by four delicate pinnacles making it a famous landmark. The nave is Norman with an Early English roof; the crypt, under the choir, aisles, chapels and Chapter House are Norman. The crypt is one of the four apsidal cathedral crypts in England, the others being at Worcester, Winchester and Canterbury.

 The south porch and the north transept are in the Perpendicular style, with a wonderful fan-vaulted roof, the south transept is Decorated Gothic. The choir has Perpendicular tracery over Norman work, with an apsidal chapel on each side: the choir vaulting is particularly rich. The cloisters at Gloucester are the earliest surviving fan vaults, having been designed between 1351 and 1377 by Thomas de Canterbury.

The most notable monument is the canopied shrine of Edward II of England who was murdered at nearby Berkeley Castle. The cathedral was enriched by visits of pilgrims to this shrine. In a side-chapel 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. Monuments of William Warburton (Bishop of Gloucester) and Edward Jenner (physician) are also worthy of note. Between 1873 and 1890, and in 1897, the cathedral was extensively restored by George Gilbert Scott.

The Victorian water-themed West window by William Wailes is magnificent and the blues really stand out over this end of the cathedral. There is more Victorian stained glass including the sequence in the lavatorium, the monks’ washing place, in the Cloister which was made by John Hardman of Birmingham in 1868 and depicts scenes from the Bible associated with water. In the South Aisle, the Four Evangelists window designed by Rogers of Worcester 1865 echoes the Great East Window with its expanse of clear glass, full-length figures and vibrant colours. In the South aisle, Clayton and Bell in 1859, designed two windows depicting historical events associated with the Abbey of St Peter, Gloucester. These include both the Coronation of Henry III which took place here in 1216 and the arrival of Edward II’s body for burial in 1327.

In the Lady Chapel, there is a series of Arts and Crafts stained glass windows installed by Christopher Whall between 1899 and 1913. The first window on the north side is the Fall of Man from in the Garden of Eden. In other panels, on both the north and south sides, are scenes from the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, including the Annunciation and the Nativity. The rich colours and high quality of painting are typical of his work. The smaller lights underneath the main scenes of the windows contain images of English saints, northern saints like St Aidan and St Hilda on the north side, and southern saints like St Etheldreda, St Edward, St Oswald and St Frideswide, in south windows, with a scene from their life below.

Gloucester Cathedral’s Great East Window dominates the very heart of the Cathedral. It is one of the greatest landmarks of English medieval glass measuring 22 m x 12 m (72′ x 38′) and dates from 1350. It is thought that 65% of this window is Medieval in origin. The east window of the Lady Chapel is made up of medieval fragments gathered from elsewhere in the Cathedral and put back in 1801.

There is also some wonderful 20th and 21st -century stained glass in the cathedral. The South Ambulatory Chapel has three amazing windows by Tomas Denny, a stained glass artist whose work we came across yesterday for the first time in Tewkesbury Abbey. This was made as part of the 900th anniversary of Abbot Serlo laying the foundation stone of St Peter’s Abbey, now Gloucester Cathedral, in 1089. They depict the New Testament story of Thomas in the presence of the risen Christ in the centre light, the windows either side are based on Psalm 148, praising God’s creation. The triptych illuminates the chapel in a magnificent blue light.

More of Tom Denny’s work can be seen in the north chantry chapel where the window commissioned in 2013 are in honour of Ivor Gurney, Gloucestershire’s famous poet-composer. Gurney’s poetry was inspired by his beloved Gloucestershire countryside and many of the scenes are recognisable local landmarks. In 2016, Tom was commissioned to create a further window to commemorate the life and works of another composer, Gerald Finzi. The window is another stunning piece with eight lights located within the same chapel as the Gurney window.

One of my favourite windows was that depicting the coronation of the boy king, Henry III, who was the only King crowned outside of Westminster Abbey. He was crowned in Gloucester Cathedral in 1216 aged 9.

In the choir, the tile work is amazing as are the stone reredos, the ceilings and the woodwork. The cathedral has forty-six 14th-century misericords and twelve 19th-century replacements by Gilbert Scott. Both types have a wide range of subject matter: mythology, everyday occurrences, religious symbolism and folklore. The East window stands immediately behind the altar and reredos and behind it on the second story is a whispering gallery where you can talk to each other across the entire expanse.
There are huge numbers of wall monuments, both large and small as well as tombs. There are many statues including one of St Kyneburg of Gloucester.
Robert, Duke of Normandy was buried in the cathedral in 1134. Even though he was the eldest son of William the Conqueror he was not given the throne of England but the Dukedom of Normandy. This caused much animosity between himself and his brothers William II and Henry I and Henry eventually imprisoned Robert Curthose for 40 years. He died in 1134 in Cardiff Castle in his early eighties. His effigy carved in bog oak lies on a mortuary chest decorated with the attributed arms of the Nine Worthies. The effigy dates from about 100 years after his death and the mortuary chest much later.
The other notable burial was that of King Edward II in 1327. He met a mysterious and reputedly gruesome end and the magnificent tomb was built later on orders of his son King Edward II. It became the Abbey’s most important monument bringing in visitors and wealth. Henry VIII saved the Abbey from destruction because his royal ancestor was buried here.
Off the north transept is an apsidal chapel which boasts some wonderful Victorian frescoes painted by Thomas Gambier Parry whose work we also came across yesterday at Tewkesbury Abbey. They are quite stunning next to the gilded stone reredos. The wall is completely painted too, it is a riot of colour.
By just after 2 pm we realised that there were more people entering the cathedral for a Remembrance service and we were also running out of time ourselves so we had a quick look around the cloisters and the cloister gardens. The cloisters had some wonderful stained glass windows as well as fan-vaulted ceilings.
We had arranged to meet Cheskie at 3 pm so we headed off toward Ross-on-Wye and we arrived spot on time. She introduced us to the two dogs, a Portuguese Waterdog (Pema) and a terrier (Pinga) and the two gorgeous Burmese cats (Hector and Mimi) and showed us all around the house and garden. After she had left we settled in and got to know the animals before having an early night.
A fantastic day! We just lose track of time in these wonderful cathedrals.