Lower Eastgate Street and Clarence Street

Lower Eastgate Street runs from the end of the Eastgate Street pedestrian zone to the inner ring road (Bruton Way and Trier Way), on the opposite side of which once stood Eastgate railway station and the Barton gates level crossing. It was, until a name change in the late-20th century, the beginning of Barton Street, referred to in some sources as inner Barton Street, which historically was the road from the city's east gate to Painswick. Until the city boundary was extended in 1835, the road lay outside the city limits.

 

The name Barton Street was first recorded c.1260 and is derived from the bartons, or manors, of the two major landowners east of Gloucester, king and abbey. Names such as Abbot's Barton and King's Barton distinguished the manors by owner, while Barton St. Mary (from St. Mary de Lode) and Barton St. Michael (from St. Michael's on The Cross) indicated the parish organisation of the area which also reflected ecclesiastical and royal ownership.

In 1483 a charter granted by King Richard III gave Gloucester administrative control of the inshire, land surrounding the town which included King's Barton, though it remained outside the city limits. At the start of the siege of Gloucester in 1643, properties lining the main roads immediately outside the city defences were torched, amongst which were 67 houses along Barton Street. Not all properties succumbed, and the late-16th century origins of today's No. 87, the oldest property on lower Eastgate Street, are betrayed by the Tudor-style first-floor overhang, though it's timber-framing is hidden by rendering. 

The properties outside the city destroyed during the siege were generally not rebuilt after the end of the English Civil War, and in 1662, two years after the restoration of King Charles II to the throne, control of the inshire was returned to the county.

The lower Barton Street area remained largely rural, and the availability of land that allowed large gardens attracted the wealthy. Beginning with the construction of Elton House in 1681 on land leased by a City Alderman near the still standing east gate, lower Barton Street became a fashionable area for the well-to-do.

The southern side of the street in particular became the location of large houses with extensive gardens. By 1749 Elton House was occupied by a doctor, who transformed the garden (which extended as far back as today's Hampden Way) into a landscaped area that included summer houses, arbours, and an ornamental obelisk. Similar properties were built along the street in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Although the air of prosperity was continued in the 1830s when Clarence Street was laid down to connect the top end of Barton Street with the cattle market, which had been opened 1823, the days of the area as a fashionable quarter were numbered. As the city's population began growing in the 19th century, outer Barton Street was developed as a working class suburb, making the inner stretch of the street less desirable.

 

By 1812 the inner part of Barton Street was isolated from the rest of Barton by the Cheltenham and Gloucester tramway and later by the Midland Railway line. That physical separation was maintained after the closure of the railway and Eastgate Station in 1975 by the inner ring road that today follows the line of the railway.

From the mid-19th century the gardens and fields behind the properties along inner Barton Street were developed into a network of streets, beginning with Wellington Street and Cromwell Street to the south and St. Kilda Parade (originally named Tanner Street) and Nettleton Road to the north.

Although Elton House and its garden disappeared under the Plaza cinema (today's Mecca bingo hall) in 1935, the street's former opulence still echoes in the bow windows of some surviving properties: No. 72, originally built c.1800, served between 1889 and 1964 as a school building for Sir Thomas Rich's, though in 1950 the premises were described as the worst in the south-west of England; No. 94, also known as Ivy House, is a late 18th century property whose garden has been lost to the tarmac of a car park; and Nos. 96–100, marked on an 1852 map as The Mansion House and also previously known as Mynd House, began life c.1800 as a single large property built for a barrister/banker, but was subsequently subdivided, the bow windows to the front barely visible behind shop fronts added later, the bow windows to the rear now looking out over a mechanic's garage.

 

Other listed properties that still betray the street's former wealth are No. 58, next to the bingo hall, originally an early-19th century house; Annandale House, a late-18th century townhouse on the north side opposite the entrance to Wellington Street; and, a few doors down, No. 111 on the corner with Nettleton Road, originally an early-19th century townhouse. A more modest echo of the street's former predominantly residential nature can be found in Nos. 67 & 69, a pair of early-19th century semi-detached houses across the road from the bingo hall, and No. 70, a c.1845 house set back from the street down one side of the forecourt of No. 72. 

As the residential street slipped down the social ladder it began the transition to the predominantly commercial area it is today. Its early history as a shopping area is preserved in several listed properties: the mid- to late-18th century shops of Nos. 62 & 64; the mid-18th century shop and dwelling of No. 66; and the late-18th century shop and dwelling of Nos. 80 & 80a.

It was across the road from No. 66 – in what was then No. 19 Barton Street, a plot that was swallowed up by the modern office block of today's Nos. 75–81 – that the family of Ivor Gurney, famous Gloucester-born composer and war poet, lived and worked.

The last listed property before the ring road is No. 108, a former pub marked on an 1852 map as the Hope and Anchor, probably of 17th-century origin with a rendered brick front that might be hiding a timber frame construction.

Clarence Street

The development of Clarence Street continued through to the 1850s. While the majority of properties on it's east side remain substantially as originally built in the 1830s and 1840s and are, with a handful of exceptions, listed, the west side was redeveloped almost in its entirety during the construction of the King's Square shopping precinct in the 1960s and 1970s.

Listed Sites

(Grades shown in brackets)

  • 1271667 (II) – Nos. 67 & 69 Eastgate Street – Pair of early-19th century semi-detached houses

  • 1271664 (II) – No. 58 Eastgate Street – Early-19th century house

  • 1271666 (II) – No. 66 Eastgate Street – Mid-18th century shop/dwelling

  • 1271668 (II) – No. 70 Eastgate Street – House c.1845

  • 1271669 (II) – No. 72 Eastgate Street – House c.1800, part of Sir Thomas Rich's School 1889–1964

  • 1271671 (II) – No. 87 Eastgate Street – Late-16th century timber-framed house
  • 1271672 (II) – Ivy House – Late-18th century house

  • 1245818 (II) – Annandale House – Late-18th century townhouse

  • 1271673 (II) – Nos. 96, 98 & 100 Eastgate Street – House c.1800, formerly known as Mynd House

  • 1271589 (II) – Nos. 4 & 6 Clarence Street – Pair of semi-detached townhouses 1832–1833

  • 1271590 (II) – Nos. 8, 10 & 12 Clarence Street – Terrace of four townhouses c.1840

  • 1271591 (II) – Nos. 18–30 Clarence Street – Terrace of eleven townhouses 1832–1833

Awaiting photo

  • 1271665 (II) – Nos. 62 & 64 Eastgate Street – Mid- to late-18th century shops/dwellings

  • 1271666 (II) – No. 66 Eastgate Street – Mid-18th century shop/dwelling

  • 1271670 (II) – Nos. 80 & 80a Eastgate Street – Late-18th century shop/dwelling

  • 1245820 (II) – No. 111 Eastgate Street – Early-19th century townhouse

  • 1245819 (II) – No. 108 Eastgate Street – Probably 17th-century pub, in 1852 the Hope and Anchor

  • 1271588 (II) – No. 2 Clarence Street and No. 57 Eastgate Street– House 1832–1833

Sources

Historic England listings

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4, the City of Gloucester, Victoria County History, 1988:

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