Our first stop in this ancient Roman city (pronounced Gloster) is an Anglo-Saxon alleyway next to a medieval stone arch, where we find 9 College Court, a tiny C18th house.
The house and the alleyway - which leads to the magnificent Gloucester Cathedral - are just as depicted in Beatrix Potter's illustrations for "The Tailor of Gloucester" published in 1903.
(Harry Potter fans may recognise these last 2 shots, the gardens and cloisters were used extensively in the films as Hogwarts)
At the far end of the alley is Westgate Street, where half timbered houses and ancient churches abound. Here lived the real Tailor of Gloucester, John Pritchard.
College Street off Westgate Street
In 1897 Beatrix came to stay with her cousin, Caroline Hutton at Harescombe Grange near Gloucester, and was told the story of tailor Pritchard who had been commissioned to make a suit for the new Mayor of Gloucester. He left the work unfinished and returned to find the suit beautifully completed, but for one buttonhole to which was attached a little note that read, "no more twist". The tailor put a sign in his window: "Come to Pritchard's where the waistcoats are made at night by the fairies". A wise entrepreneur indeed!
The truth was that two of his employees, too drunk to get home, had let themselves into the shop to sleep. To pass the time they worked on the mayor's suit - until they ran out of thread. Beatrix Potter turned the employees/fairies into mice and the tailor into a poor man who lived with his cat in the kitchen of the little house. I prefer her version!
So, let us continue through this city where I was born and where I've lived in and around for the last 40 or so years, until I moved to Bristol. My maternal family have lived In Gloucester for generations and our roots have been traced back to about 1520.
Having refreshed ourselves with a delightful cream tea at one of the 'olde worlde' establishment in Westgate Street, we move on, ladies and gentlemen, to view even more ancient historical delights.
In AD49 the Romans built a fort at the first point where the river Severn can easily be crossed. Then they built a bigger one, and they liked it so much it became the town of 'Glevum' or, more formally, Colonia Nervia Glevensium ( what a mouthful)! It became a retirement town for ex Roman soldiers! Roman villas abound here, every time there is excavation work for a new building, Roman remains will be unearthed.
A view of the old city walls
Gloucester played a pivotal role in the English Civil War, led to the fall of the king and changed history. The city was also an important port. Here we are at the famous Victorian docks. The "Tall Ships" still visit today.
National Waterways Museum, Gloucester Docks
St Oswald's Priory
And finally, another ecclesiatical gem. Even before the Norman Conquest and the foundation of the Cathedral ( St Peter's Abbey) St Oswald's Priory was a mecca for pilgrims coming to the city. It was built around 849BC - not bad, heh? If it hadn't been for those Civil War cannons it would still be complete today.
So, that concludes our trip. I hope you enjoyed your whirlwind tour of this historic city, and that those up top didn't find it too shaky.
Please mind the step as you leave, we hope to see you again soon.
Have a wonderful week. x