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Gloucester Cathedral Gates and Perimeter Walls

During the Middle Ages there were only three entrances into the walled precinct of the abbey that would become Gloucester Cathedral. The north wall had become part of the town’s defences, and the abbey was required to guarantee that no breaches would be made in it. A stretch of the north wall (grade I, list #1271580) still stands along Pitt Street, from the entrance to King's School to, according to the Historic England information, the junction with St. Mary's Street. The wall was originally constructed c.1218, after the abbey extended onto land belonging to St. Oswald's Priory. A section was heightened in the 14th and 15th centuries during the construction of a new abbot's lodging. Around 1535, just before the abbey became the cathedral and the abbot's lodging became the Bishop's Palace, windows were added to illuminate a long gallery. The Bishop's Palace was demolished 1856, following a fire seven years previously, and a new building, now part of King's School, erected in it's place. 

The main gate to the precinct lay on its western side. St. Mary’s Gate (grade I, list #1245897), located in St. Mary’s Square, was built in the 12th century and heightened in the early 13th. Originally known as College Gate, it acquired its current name from from the Church of St. Mary de Lode located just outside the precinct. It was altered in the 18th century and restored in the 19th. The accommodation above the gate currently serves as offices.

Just outside the gate stands the monument (grade II, list #1245667) to Bishop Hooper. Unveiled 1863, the memorial marks the spot where the former Bishop of Gloucester was burned at the stake in 1555 for heresy, a victim of Queen Mary I's drive to restore Catholicism to England.

King Edward’s Gate (grade II*, list #1245909), located at the end of College Street (until 1890 a lane as narrow as the nearby College Court), is one of the two southern entrances to the precinct. In 1223 it is recorded as the lich gate, and led to the lay cemetery. By the end of the 16th century it had become known by its current name, after King Edward II who is buried in the cathedral. Only the west wall of the gatehouse has survived, dating from the rebuilding of the gate in the early 16th century and incorporated into an early 19th-century house.

The other southern gate is St. Michael’s (grade I, list #1245905), located at the end of College Court. Formerly known as Upper College Gate, it too led into the cemetery. Originally built in the 14th century, its present appearance results from a 16th-century refacing and an 18th-century wing extended above the gate from the neighbouring house.

One more gate of note is the inner gate (grade I, list #1245899). This lies within the abbey precinct, allowing passage through a line of buildings that separate College Green from Miller’s Green (where originally the abbey’s service buildings were located, including the kitchen, refectory, bakery, brewery and a mill). The inner gate today is the result of a rebuild in the 14th century, with some 16th- and 18th-century alterations.

See also

Cathedral articles already published on this site with galleries and brief histories:

In 2007 Gloucester City Council designated fourteen Conservation Areas, among them the cathedral precinct, which are "of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance."


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