This is the blog post I’d not planned to write for many months, this week the plan was to write about Canterbury Cathedral (who have done a remarkable online response to Easter and the lockdown, much credit to them) but their time will come. This time it is personal, this time it is about the love affair I have with my local Cathedral, Gloucester.
My journey to visit every Cathedral in England and Wales was punctuated by my regular visits to Gloucester, be it for the big Easter and Christmas services, or to quietly hide in a tiny side chapel where I knew I’d not be disturbed and could find some peace.
I admit it, I am partisan, I am passionate and I am wholly biased but it is my belief that Gloucester is the greatest cathedral in the land.
Now if we unpick this slightly and play a sort of tick list
- Does it have a Royal burial? Yes, Edward II is here
- Has Parliament met here? Yes, Henry VIII held a Parliament
- Does it have ancient origins? Yes Osric, King of the Hwice’s sister Kyneburg set it up
- Does it have a whispering gallery? Yes indeed, you’d travel a long way to find another
- Does it have a great window, the size of a tennis court? Yes, it does
- Does it have cloisters, ancient, beautiful, with vaulting so fine it was in Harry Potter? Yes, it does.
- Does it have one of the most beautiful Lady Chapels in the land? Yes, it does
- Are visitors greeted warmly and professionally? Yes, they are
In recent years the Dean, Stephen Lake has overseen a vast programme of improvements called Project Pilgrim which has made the visitor experience so much better, there are touchscreens which do not impede on the spirituality of the cathedral, there are lifts for wheelchairs, which don’t impact on the architecture and the visit of Luke Jerome’s Moon last year brought thousands in.
Like every good Cathedral, Gloucester is the breathing heart of its diocese and the excellent Bishop Rachel Treweek is a great spiritual leader for the diocese.
I do recommend spending some time here, after dozens of visits I keep finding more fascinating parts.
Gloucester Cathedral is to some a church, to others the architecture, to some the library, to others it’s the view from the tower, but to me Gloucester is quite simply home.
He is a part-time management consultant focused on voluntary sector leadership. He is also the CEO of Action Pre-eclampsia. His photography has been widely published everywhere from the Washington Post to Vogue. In 2019, in advance of the Year Of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage he decided to attempt to visit and photograph every Anglican and Catholic Cathedral in England and Wales.