Former Great Court @ Gloucester Cathedral
The Great Court at the abbey, today one half of College Green at Gloucester Cathedral, lay on the south-west side of the precinct. To its north was the inner court, today's Millers Green, where the abbey's service buildings were located. The two courts were separated by a range of buildings running from St. Mary's Gate to the abbey church, as they are today, with passage between them via the inner gate, as it is today. To the east, the other side of a wall that until 1768 ran from King Edward's Gate to the south-west corner of the church, was the lay cemetery, today the other half of College Green.
The Great Court was the abbey's reception area, around which guests and their transport were accommodated. It is today the location of twelve listed properties, including the oldest in the precinct after the cathedral and also the youngest.
Church House, the abbot's lodging, was built against the western end of the abbey church's north aisle in three blocks. The first was completed in the 12th century, not long after the church was consecrated. The narrower southern range of the block's two gabled ranges comprised a chapel above the west slype, a passage that leads to the cloisters. The second block, linked to the first by a polygonal stair turret and looking a little castle-like with its crenelated parapet, was originally built in the 13th century and substantially rebuilt in the 14th century. The third block, known today as Parliament House or the Parliament Room, dates to the 15th century, when the timber-framed structure was built over an earlier 13th-century hall (the Parliament room is covered in more detail in the forthcoming Millers Green article)
Church House was the place where high-ranking guests were entertained, among them King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1535. It was allocated to the prior when new lodging was built for the abbot in the early 14th century. When abbey became cathedral in 1541 on the dissolution of the monasteries, Church House became the dean's residence, and after the dean moved to a residence in Millers Green in 1940, it was used as offices. Much of the ground floor today is given over to the cathedral café, Monk's Kitchen, and a fine ploughman's can be had there too.
Most of the buildings lining the western side of College Green, their rear walls marking the line of the former precinct wall on St. Mary's Square, were built in the 18th century. An exception is the timber-framed no. 14 on the south side of St. Mary's Gate. Built in the early 15th century, this house pre-dates by a decade or so the cathedral tower. It incorporates elements of an even earlier building, possibly the Almonry from where alms were distributed through the now bricked up doors in the side of St. Mary's Gate. On the opposite side of the gate, Monument House was built 1770 as a townhouse. It possibly incorporates an earlier structure according to Historic England, or was "rebuilt" 1774 according to the Victoria County History encyclopaedia.
Nos. 10–13 College Green were all built speculatively in 1735–1736 on land leased from the cathedral, where in the medieval period stables and coach houses were located. The first resident of no. 12 (Beaufort House) was an alderman and former landlord of the King's Head Inn on the nearby corner of Three Cocks Lane and Westgate Street, and during his occupancy concerts and social gatherings were held in the ground-floor assembly room of this lengthy building. The front-garden gate piers are separately listed. No. 9, set in a little from the south-west corner of the precinct, is slightly older, having been completed 1709 at the latest, also on the site of stables.
In the south-west corner, the north-facing no. 8 and its wing behind it in College Yard were built in the 15th century. Historic England states it was a house "assigned to the Prebendary of the First Stall of Gloucester Cathedral", while the wing may have been where middle-ranking guests were accommodated. The building has been much altered over the centuries; the mid 18th-century re-fronting hides the Tudor timber-framing, the bow window facing College Green was added early 19th century, the house has been sub-divided into two apartments and a projecting extension, visible from Three Cocks Lane outside the precinct, was added to the wing c.1900. Also visible from the lane, with its west end forming the wall along the lane, is a 16th-century outbuilding.
While the neighbouring no. 7, incorporating an earlier monastic building (possibly the granary), appears truer to its 16th- and 17th-century origins, it too has been much altered, including an extensive remodelling in the 19th century. It was assigned to the Prebendary of the Fourth Stall of Gloucester Cathedral and has also been sub-divided, this time into three apartments. As with no. 8, its rear wall, not visible to the public, is the medieval abbey precinct wall. The neighbouring no.6, once the sexton's house, has a similar history, with 16th- and 17th-century origins hidden by an extensive early 19th-century remodelling.
The former Great Court is the location of the most recent of the listed sites in the precinct. The war memorial to the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars was unveiled in 1922 to commemorate the regiment's fallen of the First World War. The plinth on which the cross stands is decorated with reliefs showing scenes of the yeomanry cavalry regiment's service in Gallipoli, Sinai, Palestine and Egypt. A fifth relief was added after the Second World War illustrating the service of the regiment, which by that time had traded horses for tanks, in North Africa.
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."
Historic England listings (below)
Gloucester: The cathedral and close, The Victoria County History Encyclopaedia, 1988, Vol. 4, pp. 275–288, ed. N.M. Herbert
Gloucester Cathedral and Precinct: An Archaeological Assessment, Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 2003, 3rd edition, Carolyn Heighway
Historic Gloucester: An Illustrated Guide to the City and its Buildings, The History Press, 2009, Philip Moss, ISBN:978-1-8458-8077-4
Brackets indicate the grade at which the sites are listed
1245900 (I) – Church House – Original abbot's lodging built in three blocks between the 13th and 15th centuries
1245669 (II) – Monument House – c.1770, but may incorporate earlier structure
1245896 (II*) – 14 College Green – Early 15th century but incorporating substantial remains of an earlier monastic building, possibly the Almonry
1245895 (II) – 13 College Green – Built 1735–1736 on land leased from the cathedral on which stables and coach houses were previously located
1271603 (II) – 12 College Green (Beaufort House) – Built 1735–1736 on land leased from the cathedral on which stables and coach houses were previously located
1271604 (II) – Entrance gate piers to Beaufort House
1271602 (II) – 11 College Green – Built 1735–1736 on land leased from the cathedral on which stables and coach houses were previously located
1271601 (II) – 10 College Green – Built 1735–1736 on land leased from the cathedral on which stables and coach houses were previously located
- 1271600 (II*) – 9 College Green – Built 1709 at the latest
1271599 (II) – 8 College Green – Originally 15th century but with substantial later alterations, including sub-division to nos. 8 & 8a. Includes rear wing, now 1, 2 & 3 College Yard, and a 16th-century outbuilding.
1271598 (II) – 7 College Green – 16th- and 17th-century house believed to incorporate earlier monastic building, possibly the granary, extensively remodelled late 19th century and sub-divided in 20th century into apartments (7, 7a & 7b) and accommodation for School for the Ministry (7c)
1271597 (II) – 6 College Green – 16th- and 17th-century origins hidden by an extensive early 19th-century remodelling
1245906 (II*) – Royal Gloucestershire Hussars war memorial – Unveiled 1922