Gloucester's Religious Houses

Association with the Gloucester’s Religious Houses

Gloucester has a surprisingly large number of surviving monastic sites, the most famous obviously being its great Cathedral; lesser remains are not as well known but form part of a fine collection of buildings of which Llanthony is one – though, unusually, one in which the service buildings, rather than the church, survives. In addition to the following sites, the rebuilding of St. Mary de Crypt in Southgate Street is attributed to Henry Deane, Prior of Llanthony in the late-15th century. 

The Cathedral

The cathedral only became a cathedral in 1541, following the Dissolution of the Benedictine Abbey refounded after the Norman Conquest but with origins as a mid-7th century Saxon minster. The oldest parts of its great church are early Norman but its most dramatic architecture its Perpendicular work, beginning with the pioneering work of the re-cladding of the south transept and choir in the mid-14th century, the huge east window, the fine cloisters and the mid-15th century crossing tower. The cathedral also retains a fine and large Close which seems to be lined by 18th and 19th century buildings.  However, behind some of these facades are much older buildings; the site also contains four of its precinct gateways, the 12th century Abbot’s lodging, and the remains of the Infirmary. 

St. Oswald’s Priory

The remains of the church of St. Oswald’s Priory, another Augustinian house, consist of an arcade of Norman arches probably dating to the mid-12th century. The Priory had been a fairly large establishment, converted into the parish church of St. Catherine’s at the Reformation and long ruinous.  Curiously it came under the jurisdiction of the See of York. 

The Blackfriars

The Blackfriars was the house of the Dominican friars established in 1239, benefiting from grants from Henry III. The church was not consecrated until 1284.  Shortly after the Dissolution the site was acquired by a clothmaker who converted the church into a house, named Bell’s Place after him, and the cloisters into a cloth factory making knitted caps.  Substantial remains of the friary buildings survive in the present much altered structure, including the 13th century roof.  The site has a scriptorium on the first floor - possibly the oldest surviving library in England. 

The Greyfriars

Greyfriars House opposite the church of St. Mary de Crypt has a facade of circa 1800 but behind it are remnants of the nave and north aisle of the church of the former Franciscan Friary. This had been established aorund 1230 but had been rebuilt early in the 16th century, just before it fell victim of the Dissolution in 1538. The nave and aisle are virtually identical in width and separating by a single arcade – apparently unique in an English mendicant house.

St. Margaret and St Mary Magdalene

St. Margaret’s church, Wotton, is the former church of the Leper Hospital of St. Margaret and  St. Sepulchre which existed in the mid-12th century. The oldest parts of the present church are of the late-13th century. 
St. Mary Magdalene  is also the remains of a Leper Hospital in Wotton, consiting of the chancel; it probably dates to the mid-12th century with later alterations; the nave was demolished in 1861. The leper hospital was supported by Roger, Earl of Hereford, and as a result of his family's connection to Llanthony it came under the control of Llanthony Secunda.