The city of Gloucester sits proud and unknown to most backpackers that venture to England. A few things have put this city on the map and there is no longer a need to neglect it. I didn’t, so you shouldn’t either. Gloucester is the capital city of the county of Gloucestershire. I was actually in the county of Gloucestershire for a few days as I also headed out to stay in a hut in the Forest of Dean and go foraging for food and looking for wild animals at night.
When I got back to Gloucester City, I stayed in the absolutely charming Edward Hotel, the only independent hotel in the city, and as I toured the city’s sights, I was completely surprised by the amount of things to see and do here. This is a quick top 5, I was in and out very fast! I scratched the surface of a city crying to be found.
1.The World of Beatrix Potter
Down a shy, cobbled lane sits this pretty little shop. This shop, is the Tailor of Gloucester. The title of a book by Beatrix Potter.
It’s now a fantastic museum and shop. The book dates back to 1902 and this is a must for any fans. I read the book as a child and liked it – it’s not my thing anymore but I’m glad I visited the shop. It’s very famous in these parts.
The docks come as a big surprise. Here in a city that is inland, not far from the Wales border yet there is a very idyllic and pretty historic dock yard area! But then I forgot, the River Severn flows nonchalantly by. You could spend a long time down here exploring. I started off in Victoria dock, walking the perimeter.
There is a Quayside shopping centre and it’s a very pleasant mix of new and modern. Ridiculously it reminded me of Jaffa in Israel! There are some cool restaurants, shops, bars and cafes and you can get “canal cruises” and tours of the docks. It attracts families and young couples, not so many backpackers. There are also a few tramps around sadly.
3.Kingsholm Rugby Stadium
While most cities in England cite football as the number one sport, Glosi is different. Here, rugby is not just all the rage, but it dominates proceedings in this city. So for once, there is no football stadium going in here, they do have a team, Gloucester City FC, but nearby Cheltenham Town FC are the stronger side (they were once third division). So it’s over to Kingsholm rugby stadium instead!
It was a proud time for Gloucester in 2015, on my visit the city was decked in flags, colours and a party atmosphere as they hosted the rugby World Cup here. It was chosen ahead of so many other big cities in England, fending off places like Bath and Wigan.
Having toured lots of English Cathedrals down the years, including the highly impressive Salisbury Cathedral. I didn’t expect Gloucester’s to be anything special, but it was.
Gloucester Cathedral dates back a long long way – it originated in 678 or 679 with the foundation of an abbey dedicated to st. Peter. King Henry the Eighth later dissolved it. These days it’s a fully operational cathedral, bells ring, full services and tourists like me take selfies in the pretty gardens. Entry is free but you’re kind of coerced into making a £5 donation. I feel it should be up to the person how much we donate!
5.St. Oswald’s Priory
I should have made this list 8-10 items but I was in and out of Gloucester a bit fast and didn’t get time to see everything. I found time to briefly look at St. Oswald’s Priory. This is a priory church, initially dedicated to St. Peter. It was constructed from recycled Roman stones. At the time it was built, it was a bold and unusual move to build a church as there were frequent Viking raids in those days. The walls have been restored of course.
So get Gloucester on your list, it’s a great city and a bit of a surprise! Here are some videos from my time touring the top 5 sights in Gloucester: