We've lived in Gloucestershire for five years now and I have never visited its' county town Gloucester. I've driven through it and admired the cathedral from afar but the town has the reputation of being a bit of a dump and I've always stayed clear of it. Articles like the one that appeared in the property section of The Telegraph yesterday don't help either "..........Gloucester was once an influential metropolis with a host of fine buildings. It has a norman cathedral that was once described as northern Europe's 'sixth most beautiful building' by John Betjeman". The article continues "..........Gloucester has become a beggarly dowager in an ill-fitting tracksuit. There are not even any tourists to speak of..........poor planning decisions made in the 1960s and 1970s".
It's a good job I didn't read this before we set off yesterday because we might not have gone. We woke up on Saturday morning and decided that we wanted to go somewhere by train and Gloucester it was. I did a quick search on google and printed off a map and clocked in my head the cathedral, the docks and a folk museum to visit. I packed some rolls and cakes and a bottle of water and off we went. Amber had a friend with her and they decided to go shopping and we were to meet three hours later (Amber - I've been to the cathedral three times on school trips and that's enough!).
We started off with the cathedral and it is indeed a most beautiful building. Here are some pics for you to see for yourself:
The view from the altar:
The next couple of photos are of misericords which are on the back of some of the seats in the above picture:
One of the cloisters:
I won't go on about the history of the place as you can read that for youself by clicking the link in my first paragraph. A little walk around the outside of the building threw up these treasures:
Aren't those hinges beautiful? Look at this lovely house nearby too:
Here's a picture of one of those poor planning decisions. Did someone really 'design' that monstrosity on the left to go next to the timber framed house?
Feeling like good and proper tourists now we went in search of the Folk Museum anticipating that we'd only be there for a short while. Well folks this has got be the City's best kept secret I tell you. First of all it's housed in the most beautiful building dating from 1500:
and the inside is jam packed with artifacts from bygone years to the 1970's. There are kitchen wares, weights and measures, farming tools. There is a small shoemakers shop, a classroom, a room with old toys, a room full of pin making equipment which is what went on in this building once, equipment from a dairy. Downstairs there are things from more recent times. Here are a few pics:
This is an old wooden water pipe that ran under the street in the seventeenth century. It's a hollowed out tree trunk:
I loved these old milk bottles in the dairy:
and just read this old sign:
I also found the cooker that my parents owned when I was little. Just touching that oven dial brought back so many memories. Sorry the picture isn't very clear.
I can't post up any more pics but I think you get the gist of it. The Gloucester Folk Museum is definately a place to visit. Infact we stayed there far too long and had to call Amber's friend to say we needed another hour just to visit the docks quickly and ofcourse we just had to go and find the shop of the Tailor of Gloucester (Beatrix Potter).
and here it is in the book:
It's the same place. Ofcourse, we had to pop in buy a little souvenir.
So far experience of Gloucester pretty good I'd say but then we returned to the train station via some of the shopping streets and one can see why Gloucester has a bad reputation. Still, according to above mentioned newspaper article they are going to invest £1 billion in the city and are beginning a 10 year regeneration plan that will include restoring the centre and it's histric buildings. Well, thank goodness for that because the city really deserves it. I'm so glad we visited yesterday - we had a great day out, saw and learned lots and we've even planned another visit to to go to the National Waterways Museum sometime. I'm only sorry we left it this late to discover. So if you're driving down the M5 sometime stop off in Gloucester and see a bit of culture - you won't regret it.