Saturday, 1 August 2009

Gloucester /Gleawecestre: Place in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series ****



Gloucester (pronounced /ˈɡlɒstər/ ( listen) (GLO-stə)) is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately 32 miles (51 km) north-east of Bristol, and 45 miles (72 km) south-southwest of Birmingham.
Gloucester was founded in AD 48 by the Romans as Glevum, and was granted its first charter in 1155 by King Henry II. Economically, the city is dominated by the service industries, and has a strong financial and business sector, being home to the bank Cheltenham & Gloucester and historically was prominent in the aerospace industry.
Character
Gloucester is the county town of Gloucestershire, and is the 53rd largest settlement in the UK by population. In 2001 the city proper had a population of 123,205. However the built-up area extends beyond the city boundary. The 2001 census gave the population of the whole "Gloucester Urban Area" as 136,203. Gloucester is also the most multicultural part of Gloucestershire and is home to over half of all the counties minority groups. It is located on the eastern bank of the River Severn, 114 miles (183 km) west north west of London. It is sheltered by the Cotswolds to the east, while the Forest of Dean and the Malvern Hills rise to the west and north, respectively.

Gloucester Docks
Gloucester is a port, linked via the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal which runs from Gloucester's docks to the Severn Estuary, allowing larger ships to reach the docks than would be possible on the tidal reaches of the river itself. The wharfs, warehouses and the docks themselves fell into disrepair until their renovation in the 1980s. They now form a public open space. Some warehouses now house the National Waterways Museum, others were converted into luxury residential apartments, shops and bars. Additionally, the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum is located in the Custom House. The port still houses the most inland RNLI lifeboat in the UK.


History
Roman times

Glevum Kip's West prospect of Gloucester, c. 1725, emphasizes the causeway and bridges traversing the water meadows of the floodplain.

The existence of a British settlement at Gloucester (Caer Glow, Gleawecastre, Gleucestre) is not confirmed by any direct evidence, but Gloucester was the Roman municipality of Colonia Nervia Glevensium, or Glevum, founded in the reign of Nerva. Parts of the walls can be traced, and many remains and coins have been found, though inscriptions are scarce. Evidence for some civic life after the end of Roman Britain includes the mention in the Historia Brittonum that Vortigern's grandfather ruled Gloucester. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Gloucester passed briefly to Wessex from the Battle of Deorham in 577 until 584, when it came under the control of Mercia.

Saxon times
Gloucester (Glowancestre, 1282) derives from the Anglo-Saxon for fort (Old English ceaster) preceded by the Roman stem Glev- (pronounced glaiw). In Old Welsh, the city was known as Caerloyw, caer = castle, and loyw from gloyw = glowing/bright. Gloucester was captured by the Saxons in 577. Its situation on a navigable river, and the foundation in 681 of the abbey of St Peter by Æthelred, favoured the growth of the town; and before the Norman Conquest of England, Gloucester was a borough governed by a portreeve, with a castle which was frequently a royal residence, and a mint.
In the early tenth century the remains of Saint Oswald were brought to a small church in Gloucester, bringing many pilgrims to the town.
The core street layout dates back to the reign of Ethelfleda in late Saxon times.

Medieval times

Gloucester in 1805

The first Earl of Gloucester, Earl Godwine, was succeeded nearly a century later by Robert of Gloucester. King Henry II granted the first charter in 1155, which gave the burgesses the same liberties as the citizens of London and Winchester, and a second charter of Henry II gave them freedom of passage on the River Severn. The first charter was confirmed in 1194 by Richard I of England. The privileges of the borough were greatly extended by the charter of King John (1200), which gave freedom from toll throughout the kingdom and from pleading outside the borough.
In the Middle Ages the main export was wool which came from the Cotswolds and was processed in Gloucester; other exports included leather and iron (tools and weapons). Gloucester also had a large fishing industry at that time.
In 1223 thatched roofs were banned after a massive fire that destroyed a part of Gloucester.
In the late thirteenth century Gloucester's Jewish community were banished from Gloucester and sent to Bristol after accusations of ritual murder.

Tudor and Stuart times
Subsequent charters were numerous. Gloucester was incorporated by King Richard III in 1483, the town being made a county in itself. This charter was confirmed in 1489 and 1510, and other charters of incorporation were received by Gloucester from Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. Gloucester was the site of the execution by burning of John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester in the time of Queen Mary and martyred by her in 1555.
In 1580 Gloucester was awarded the status of a port by Queen Elizabeth I.
The Siege of Gloucester in 1643 was a battle of the English Civil War in which the besieged parliamentarians emerged victorious.

Modern notoriety
In 1991 Gloucester City Council worker Anna McGurk was murdered by a man whilst he was an inmate at a bail hostel in Ryecroft within the city. The murder led to changes in the law affecting those held on bail for serious offences. A memorial bursary has been set up in her honour, helping to fund the interests and hobbies of disadvantaged children.
The spring of 1994 saw the arrest of Fred West and his wife Rose West for the murder of 12 women and girls who went missing between 1967 and 1987 - including two of their daughters. Their home, 25 Cromwell Street, where the remains of many of the victims were buried, was later demolished and a public walkway laid in its place. To deter souvenir-hunters, the rubble was reduced to dust before disposal. One of the victims was found buried at a house in nearby Midland Road, which by then was occupied by a new resident, and is still lived in to this day.
In July 2007, Gloucester was hit badly by a flood that struck Gloucestershire and its surrounding areas. Hundreds of homes were flooded, but the event was most memorable because of its wider impact - about 40,000 people were without power for 24 hours, and the entire city (plus surrounding areas) was without piped water for 10–14 days.

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral, in the north of the city near the river, originates in the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter in 681. It is the burial place of King Edward II of England and Walter de Lacy. The Cathedral was used for scenes in the films Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the unreleased film, as of May 2009, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
Attached to the deanery is the Norman prior's chapel. In St Mary's Square outside the Abbey gate, the Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop John Hooper, was martyred under Queen Mary I in 1555.

Medieval and Tudor buildings
Many medieval and Tudor period gabled and half timbered houses survive from earlier periods of Gloucester's history. At the point where the four principal streets intersected stood the Tolsey (town hall), which was replaced by a modern building in 1894. None of the old public buildings are left except for the New Inn in Northgate Street. It is a timbered house, with strong, massive external galleries and courtyards. It was built in 1450 for the pilgrims to King Edward II's shrine, by Abbot Sebroke.

Churches
There may be many churches now, but in the past there were also many dissenting chapels. It may have been the old proverb "as sure as God's in Gloucester" that provoked Oliver Cromwell to declare that the city had "more churches than godliness". Gloucester was the host of the first Sunday school in England; this was founded by Robert Raikes in 1780. Four of the churches that are of special interest are
St Mary de Lode - with a Norman tower and chancel, and a monument of Bishop John Hooper. It was built on the site of an ancient Roman temple which became the first Christian church in Britain.
St Mary de Crypt - with a cruciform structure of the 12th century. It has later additions, such as the tower. Also the site of the Schoolroom in which The Crypt School was formed .
The St Michael church - said to have been connected with the St Peter ancient abbey.
The St Nicholas church - founded by the Normans but with many additions since then. In the neighbourhood around St Mary de Crypt there are slight remains of Greyfriars and Blackfriars monasteries, and also of the city wall. Under the Golden Fleece (The Monks Bar) and Saracen's Head inns early vaulted cellars still remain.
During the construction of the Boots store on the corner of Brunswick Road and Eastgate Street in 1974, Roman remains were found. These can be seen through a glass case on the street. At the back of the Gloucester Furniture Exhibition Centre part of the city's south gate can be seen.

1 comment:

  1. As an artist myself, I enjoy reading Philip Koch's sensitive writing about Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, who along with Whistler and Rothko, are my favorite American painters.
    I don't live in the United States but have traveled and passed a short time there. But even with the little time spent in your beautiful country, especially in small-town America, I can relate to some of the poetical feel that Hopper and Wyeth had captured in their art, which is for me part of the attraction of their paintings.
    Browsing at wahooart.com the other day, as I do now and then, I find a good selection of Edward Hopper's work, http://EN.WahooArt.com/@/EdwardHopper ,in the big archive of Western Art, that customers can order online for canvas prints and even hand-painted, oil-painting reproductions can be made and sent to them.
    Hopper's surrealistic and depersonalized world is there again. Timeless, yes, as it is still there now in the roadside cafes and diners that I ate at all over America.

    ReplyDelete