GLOUCESTERSHIRE

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Gloucester Cathedral interiorDominated by a fertile valley of the Severn River at its centre, Gloucestershire is mainly a farming county. Dairy and sheep farms dominate, but at the same time, it has several centers of industrial manufacturing.
       

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Making up several stops on the Roman road networks, some areas of Gloucestershire held a significant importance in that era, and when the Anglo-Saxons came, they absorbed the region within its domain of colonisation.

  

In 2007, Gloucestershire was one of the most hard hit areas during the floods in the United Kingdom, but with native pluck and energy, they managed to not only recover from the tragedy that affected thousands, but to bounce back as a tourist attraction.

      

Like most English towns with a long reach back in history, Gloucestershire is rich in architecture – specifically gorgeous churches. Tewkesbury and Gloucester are especially wealthy in this attraction. There are also royal residences, castles and Roman ruins scattered throughout the county.

 

 

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Points of Interest:  1. Tewkesbury   2. Gloucester  3. Forest of Dean  4. St. Briavels

 

 

        

      




 

   

 

 

 

 



Tewkesbury Abbey
A
n ancient jewel laid down at the point where two rivers meet describes the town of Tewkesbury (pop. 9,980). Once a place favoured by weary travellers on their journey along the rivers Severn and Avon, it is now a town whose architecture has frozen in time, a place of rivers and bridges and precious physical history.
       

One of the main attractions of Tewkesbury is its townscape. Showcasing architectural styles from centuries long past, Tewkesbury is best enjoyed through a long walk on a balmy day. Slipping through the ancient alleyways or enjoying a walk by the river, there’s a close comfort to the feel of the place. Later in the evening, you could stroll down to the Roses Theatre, located in the centre of Tewkesbury and catch an art-house movie or live performance.

Sights
Tewkesbury Abbey [Church Street, +441 68485 0959] is a major tourist draw. A gorgeous creeping monster at the south of the town, the Abbey lays like a slumbering behemoth, staring out from delicate stained-glass windows, isolated by its thick walls and fine lawns. There is much to see here, besides the beautiful stained glass windows and manicured lawns. The Tewkesbury Abbey has one of the largest collections of religious monuments in England, and, uncommon in English churches, has a freestanding belltower housing the church bells – in fact, it is the largest Norman church tower in existence.

Hotels
The Abbey Hotel
[67 Church Street, +44 1684294247, £40].   A family run B&B offering 12 comfortable rooms situated near to Tewkesbury’s greatest tourist attraction, the Abbey. There is WiFi and complimentary breakfast.

The Jessop Townhouse Bed and Breakfast [65 Church Street, +44 1684292017, from £59.00].  This lovely 18th century townhouse is situated in the town centre, with spacious rooms.     All the rooms are non-smoking.





Gloucester streetscape 
Founded by Romans at a crossing point in the river Severn, Gloucester (pop. 123,200) was initially used as a military encampment, with several forts being built. Eventually it became a sort of retirement town for old military brass, and like most towns founded by the Romans, it went into decline together with the Roman civilization. Eventually it was retaken by the Saxons who built a monastery there. The keeping of St Oswald’s remains at a local church made it one of the places of pilgrimage. William the Conqueror built his castle here, and this was where he compiled the Domesday Book, a survey of all of England that was completed in 1086. The town was given charter by King Richard III, and like many of the Cotswold towns, its main industry was woolmaking.      

Layout
Gloucester is now a port town, sitting on the river Severn, close to the Welsh border. The docks, the famous greyfriars, and the Gloucester Cathedral are all located within the same central area. The shopping area is focused on Eastgate Street, and the Kings Walk Shopping Centre, providing a blend of independent shops as well as larger commercial chains.

Sights
Gloucester CathedralBuilt between AD678 and 679, Gloucester Cathedral [12 College Green, +44 1452 528095] is undoubtedly the most famous attraction of the city. Known in the Middle Ages as the Abbey of St Peter, it had many royal links – crowning, burials and patronage of kings. As it was constantly being built up and added on to, depending on who was in charge, the Cathedral is a fine example of several periods of medieval architecture coming together. Especially interesting the remaining areas of the Romanesque Abbey, and the south porch built in Perpendicular Gothic style according to the architectural style of the moment.
       

Gloucester Cathedral cryptThe Cathedral also plays host to one of the world’s oldest annual music festivals, the Three Choirs Festival [+44 8456521823]. For those who are less interested in ancient saints, and more curious about modern day 'heroes', it's an interesting tidbit to know that the Cathedral was used as the location for Hogwarts in the filming of the Harry Potter movies. Watch the movies before you decide to take a trip to the Cathedral, and see if you can spot familiar scenes!
         

Blackfriars Abbey, a near-perfect structure of medieval architecture is a prime example of a Dominican Priory. A cloister housing the preachers of the Dominican of Black Friars Order, it was patronised by royalty, and the monks played roles in the community as teachers and evangelists. In line with their role as educators, the Priory housed a Scriptorium, now nearly 750 years old, and is the oldest library building in England.    

Visiting a dock town is an excellent reason to take a cruise! As the most inland port in Britain, you may not get the chance to take a cruise in the surrounding areas – and certainly not within a similar ambience. You can take the English Holiday Cruises [+44 1452-410411]  and spend any number of days on their luxurious hotelboat, boarding at the Gloucester docks. If you would prefer the novelty of a static boat, the quaint Oliver Cromwell Paddle Wheeler  [Alexandra Quay in Gloucester docks, +44 1452 410411] is the place to be. It offers tea, yummy Sunday roasts and cabaret shows served with dinner.

English Holiday Cruises
       

For something a little different, you could visit the local haunted sites. As one the spookiest places in Britain, it's no wonder that Gloucester has its own Ghost Walk [+44 7908 552 855, ad/ch £5/3]. Run by a local lady, Lyn Cinderey, the walks take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the whole year, and occasionally Overnight Paranormal Investigations over the weekends. If you've ever wondered what lurks behind the shadows of Blackfriars and St Micheal's Tower, here's your opportunity to find out.

Hotels
Brookthorpe Lodge [Stroud Road, +44 1452 812645,  from s/d £30/60].   A lovely Georgian country house offering accommodation about 10 minutes minutes away from Gloucester's town centre. Most of the rooms are en-suite and a choice of a hearty English breakfast or a healthier snacks for your morning meal.

Edward Hotel [88-92 London Road  +44 1452 525865, s/d £49/60] is a supremely central place and a civilised place to stay especially if you arrive by train.     

 


       
Forest of Dean
 This beautiful area, consisting mainly of woodlands and bounded by three rivers – Wye, Leadon and Severn – houses the country's first National Forest Park. Rich in natural resources of iron and coal, it was a place of settlements since the prehistoric times, and was prized as a royal hunting ground during the time of the Saxon kings. Although the area became an industrial mining region later on, it eventually petered out in the face of better technology, and the Forest of Dean now shines as a tourist attraction.

Sights
The forests themselves provide a wide array of things to see and do. If you're a maze buff, head over to the Elton Farm Mazes in Newnham [Littledean Road, Newnham-on-Severn, +44 1594 827 007]. The mazes cover 8 acres and will keep you occupied for a good few hours! The mazes are themed, and there are usually trivia games and treasure hunts integrated into the maize mazes. For a more unique maze, Puzzlewood offers a tangle of trees and pathways, moss-covered boulders and lavender sunlight. An enchanting puzzle of a walk, these woods were used to film scenes of Dr Who and Merlin.      

A small village with a gorgeous view and a historic Norman castle, St Briavels  is a quaint and laidback place to be. It is shielded by the mass of the St Briavels Castle, which started out as a royal administration centre, and then a hunting lodge for the English nobility. It then swapped roles as a prison, a private mansion, and today, a youth hostel that is open to the public. The moat surrounding the castle survives to this day, but instead of being filled with murky water and flesh-eating fish, it's now a garden that rings the castle. The castle is in impressive shape, with the gatehouse nearly untouched by the ruins of centuries, and the whole providing an interesting and tangible look at how the royals used to live.

Hotel
The Speech House Hotel
[Coleford, +44 1594 822607, £55].   To complete your stay at the royal forests of Dean, the only choice is to find accommodation at an actual hunting lodge. Once a lodge belonging to Charles II, it is now a hotel with 37 rooms that are en-suite and provide breakfast.