King's and Pitt

King's School is an independent co-educational school with affiliations to Gloucester Cathedral. Formally established as a chorister school by King Henry VIII in 1541, King's traces its origins to the monastic education of children, first recorded in 1072, at the abbey that would become Gloucester Cathedral. Twelve school sites listed by Historic England are located in the cathedral precinct. Three more are located along nearby Pitt Street, where there are another four listed sites not affiliated with the school.

King's School in the cathedral precinct

Among the oldest King's properties are Little Cloister House and Dulverton House, located either side of the remains of the abbey infirmary arches on the north side of the cathedral, both with origins in the 13th century.

Little Cloister house comprises three parallel ranges. The main entrance is along the north alley of the infirmary's little cloister to an east range built over the west alley of the little cloister. The ground floor of the central range comprises a 13th-century vaulted chamber, above which the abbey misericord (a room where monastic rules were relaxed) was reputedly located. The west range is a 15th-century timber-framed structure built over the recessed 13th-century entry that can be seen today from the alley between Millers Green and the infirmary arches.

The core of Dulverton House as it stands today was originally the infirmarer's lodging and incorporates remains of the infirmary chapel of St. Bridget. Since its original construction, the property has been remodelled and enlarged, with major works occurring in the 14th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. In the grounds is the separately listed 19th-century Dulverton Coach House.

Nearby, in the north-west corner of the cathedral precinct, lies the former Bishop's Palace, which was converted to a school facility in 1955. Built in 1861, the palace incorporates some minor remains of it's predecessor, which had occupied the site since its construction as the abbot's lodging in the early 14th century. Around the private garden are two more listed structures: Palace Cottage, originally built 1861 as coach house, stables and servant's lodgings for the palace; and a gazebo originally built in the 18th century and relocated to its present position in 1988. The palace is bounded on the north side by a stretch of early 13th-century precinct wall, heightened and fenestrated c.1535 to form the north wall of a long gallery attached to the then abbot's lodging.

The school gymnasium, known as the Ivor Gurney Hall after the Gloucester-born composer and war poet, was built 1852 on the north side of the cathedral Chapter House. It occupies the site of the early 14th-century Norman dorter (the monastic dormitory), which was demolished as a result of the dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530s. The gymnasium yard is bounded on the north and east sides by railings which are listed separately by Historic England.

Two school buildings are located in former cemeteries south of the cathedral. Wardle House was built in the late 17th century as accommodation for a residentiary canon of the cathedral. Its west flank is on the line of a wall that once separated lay and monks' cemeteries, and from its private garden it's possible to see segments of that wall now incorporated into the rears of buildings lining the east side of College Green. A bow window visible from the publicly accessible area on College Green is an 18th-century addition. The house was once home to Mary Anne Lewis, later the wife of 19th-century prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, and currently serves as the school's arts faculty. East of Wardle House is King's School House, a timber-framed property originally built 1500, enlarged 1623 and re-fronted late 18th century. I'm told the occupiers are not permitted to dig holes in the garden of this private residence, built as it is in the grounds of the former monks' cemetery.

Pitt Street

Pitt Street runs immediately outside the cathedral, along the line of the old abbey precinct north wall. In 1536 the street was known as Behind the Walls, and in 1780 the western half was known as College Wall while the eastern half went by the name of Beast Market. A 1780 map shows the land behind the houses lining the north side as a paddock belonging to John Pitt Esq. which extended to St. Catherine Street. In 1766, John Pitt was a local resident, attorney and future M.P. for Gloucester who organised the pulling down of the infirmary entrance to the cathedral precinct after a disturbance by soldiers resulted in stricter rules for closing the entrance being enforced. The street had acquired its current name by 1843. The paddock is preserved in spirit by the King's School playing field, though the northern half is now lost to Gouda Way and a railway embankment.

The old paddock is also preserved in name by Paddock House. According to the city council conservation plan, the house was built for John Pitt, though Historic England dates its construction to c.1810 while Pitt died in 1805. A single-storey wing was added in the late 19th century, and the property is now part of King's School. Its neighbours, the late 18th century nos. 5 and 6 are also school properties, while farther down, nos. 7–13 are tenant-occupied, cathedral-owned terraces also with late 18th century origins. Finally, the corner of Pitt Street and Hare Lane is occupied by nos. 3 and 4, originally built 1858 as the Gloucester Court of Probate.

Acknowledgements

 

While the majority of King's School properties can be viewed from publicly accessible locations, I am indebted to the headmaster of King's School, who very kindly allowed me access to private school property to capture some of the images in this article. Those images so captured are acknowledged in their descriptions.

See also

Sources

Listed Sites
Brackets indicate the grade at which the sites are listed

  • 1245960 (II*) – Former Bishop's Palace – 1861, on site of early 13th-century predecessor

  • 1271581 (II) – Palace Cottage – 1861, originally coach house, stables and servant's quarters of the Bishop's Palace 

  • 1245959 (II) – Early to mid-18th century gazebo in private gardens of Bishop's Palace

  • 1271580 (I) – Original north wall to abbey precinct, first erected c.1218, heightened and fenestrated c.1535 to become north wall of a long gallery attached to the Bishop's Palace

  • 1271579 (I) – Little Cloister House – Originally 13th century, with significant 15th-century additions

  • 1271578 (I) – Little Cloister – Remains of 15th-century infirmary cloister, west alley of which has been built over by Little Cloister House

  • 1245957 (II*) – Dulverton House – Originally 13th-century infirmarer's lodging, subsequently enlarged

  • 1245958 (II) – Former coach house to Dulverton House – Early 19th century

  • 1245961 (II) – Ivor Gurney Hall – Built 1852 on site of 13th-century dorter (monks' dormitory), now King's School gymnasium

  • 1271576 (II) – Ivor Gurney Hall railings – 1852

  • 1271584 (II) – Wardle House – Originally built 1677–1686 for a residentiary canon of Gloucester Cathedral

  • 1271577 (II) – King's School House – Timber-framed property originally built 1500, enlarged 1623, refronted late 18th century, now private residence

  • 1245689 (II) – Paddock House – Built c.1810 with single-storey wing added late 19th century

  • 1245684 (II) – 5 Pitt Street – Late 18th-century house, now part of King's School

  • 1245685 (II) – 6 Pitt Street – Late 18th-century house, now part of King's School

  • 1245686 (II) – 7–11 Pitt Street – Late 18th-century terrace of five cathedral-owned private houses

  • 1245687 (II) – 12 Pitt Street – Late 18th-century cathedral-owned private house

  • 1245688 (II) – 13 Pitt Street – Late 18th-century cathedral-owned private house

  • 1245683 (II) – 3&4 Pitt Street – Former Gloucester Court of Probate built 1858

© 2020–2021 All images copyright Shadowed Eyes unless otherwise credited

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