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Gloucester Blackfriars

Visited July 2017

Location Gloucester
Entrance Fee No 
Railway Station Nearby Gloucester
Parking Yes- Pay & Display next door
Facilities None


Gloucester Blackfriars is the most complete Dominican priory in England. The Dominicans first came to Gloucester in the first half of the 13th century and the priory was completed in about 1270.






The Dominicans, named Blackfriars because of the robes they wore, had a special interest in education, and the church at the priory was made larger to allow the public to come in and listen to the sermons. They also had a special building called a Scriptorium, which was used as a library and an area where the monks could write and copy manuscripts. The monks would work in individual writing booths, the remains of which can still be seen today. 


After Henry VIII had suppressed the monasteries the building was sold and turned into a private home. Extra floors were created in the roof space of  the church and new windows and fireplaces were added to make it habitable as a home. The Scriptorium was used for various businesses including weaving and bottling. 





The building came under the care of English Heritage in the 1960's as an important Dominican Priory. Much work has been done to restore the remaining building, including removing all the post medieval floors and partitions to showcase the original features.


The site is very small and a visit here does not take up much time. There are no facilities, but it is right in the middle of Gloucester so there are plenty of refreshments opportunities close by. There is a children's trail available, it is not obvious though so you may have to ask the custodian for one. The site has very reduced opening hours, currently Sundays and Mondays only, so if you want to visit you need to plan  around that. 


Gloucester has other attractions on offer if you want to make a longer day trip, for example nearby Gloucester Cathedral is awesome to visit, the ceiling in the cloisters is magnificent. Kids (and adults for that matter) may recognise the cloisters from the Harry Potter films which were filmed on location at the cathedral. Also of interest to history fans are the royal tombs. Gloucester Cathedral has the tomb of Edward II who was murdered at nearby Berkeley Castle, Robert Duke of Normandy who was the son of William the Conqueror and Osric a Prince of Mercia who founded a monastery on the cathedral site in the year 678. 


A short walk from the cathedral via the ancient King Edward's Gate brings you to Gloucester Docks, a recently renovated area with a tasteful mix of old and new buildings housing shops, cafes and several museums. From the Waterways Museum you can take a boat ride through the docks and along the canal, this was very popular with families with children of all ages on the day we went. 





As this is a website about castles I thought I would finish with a word about Gloucester Castle. This large defence was built shortly after the Norman conquest and was in use until it was demolished in 1787 and the town's prison built on the site. It was thought the castle was totally lost but a recent renovation of the prison has revealed the foundations of the castle. The owners are currently considering how to incorporate the remains into the new buildings planned for the site. Fingers crossed that they will allow public access to the remains of this once mighty castle. 





More info:  English Heritage Gloucester Blackfriars

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