Gloucester: more heritage than you can shake a stick at

It has been quite a hectic few weeks for those of us Gloucesterians who are interested in the city’s history.  Couple of weeks ago we had the BBC History Festival, then last week was Gloucester Day and this week, from 9th to 12th September, was a long weekend of Gloucester Heritage Open Days.

The Heritage Open Days happen all over the country and are a great way to explore your local heritage – many things that you can’t normally get in to see are opened to the public and other things that you would normally have to pay for, such as some of the Civic Trust tours or a visit to the Cathedral tower, are free. Why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to explore?

The brochure for Gloucester’s Heritage Days contained 101 things to do over the weekend – literally, so deciding what to choose was difficult. Having said that, my first choice was easy. I am embarrassed to say that, despite living in Gloucester all my life, I had never seen the Severn Bore. This is something I rectified on Friday morning, joining an organised walk from the North Warehouse at the Docks. Despite the grey, damp day threatening rain we joined what must have been close to 100 people to trek from the docks across Castle Meads to the Lower Parting to see a 3- to 4-star bore. The pictures don’t do it justice, it was a great thing to see and I intend to seek out a 5-star bore in the near future, hopefully when there are fewer people about.

Later on, I took a walk around St Nicholas Church in Westgate Street: a beautiful church dating from the late 12th century. Although there are many Victorian additions inside, it retains a very atmospheric medieval feel and is well worth a visit. I also took a free Civic Trust guided tour around the park and spa area.

Saturday was, of course, the busiest day of the weekend with the most to see. Unfortunately I had to miss much of it as I ran a couple of tours myself. Based on having written The Story of Gloucester’s Pubs I was invited to do a tour of the pubs. As the tours were only supposed to be an hour long (both over-ran!) there was no time to actually drink in any of the pubs, but despite that they were well attended and seemed to go well.

The tours certainly went better than the book signing in the morning. Nicky and Neil at StanMan’s Kitchen in Westgate Street had arranged for me to sign some books in the café during the morning. I have had a previous bad experience of book signing when I sat in Waterstones all alone at the launch of my last book, and this occasion was no different. If anything, having the author present seems to actively discourage people from looking at the books. I probably won’t be doing any more of those.

I did manage to squeeze a couple of visits in during the morning: I had look around the Parliament Suites, had a tour of the Dick Whittington and a look around the newly restored rooms above Hedleys tea rooms. There was so much more I would have liked to do, but that will have to wait until next year now.

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About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
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4 Responses to Gloucester: more heritage than you can shake a stick at

  1. janh1 says:

    Nice blog. Went to the history weekend but I was disappointed to find Parliament Rooms not open. Went there many years ago for a reception but would have liked another look.

    The “newly restored rooms” above Hedleys? You mean the old Butties? What’s going to happen to that building? Last I heard the planners had given permission to cover up the timbers, which seemed crazy.

  2. Darrel Kirby says:

    Thanks Jan. Parliament rooms were open on Saturday and well worth a look around.

    The restored rooms are above the old butties. They have been rendered which, although controversial was, I think, the right decision. I went through the arguments in The Story of Gloucester and recap them on my website as it was briefly a pub (see http://www.darrelkirby.com/storyofgloucesterspubs/extra_pubs/queenshead) but in short, because it was rendered in the 18th century it either had to be re-rendered or the windows had to be replaced. I believe English Heritage and Civic Trust both agreed with the final decision.

    Anyway, downstairs is now Hedley’s cafe and upstairs is on the market if you have some spare cash….

  3. Dominic says:

    Gloucester is a wonderful city, which I must admit, I don’t get to often enough 😦 I have loved the cathedral, for far more years than Harry Potter has been alive, and the view from the tower is spectacular to say the least!

  4. Jan says:

    Oh right, so that *is* the Butties building. Personally, I’d preferred the timbers to remain, but if the Civic Trust agreed, I will say no more 🙂

    Hope sympathetic new owners will buy it and look after it. I’m out of the running on that one!

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