City Centre Tour 24. Blackfriars

One of Gloucester’s best kept secrets, Britain’s finest example of a Dominican Friary, has remained relatively hidden from the nearby bustle of Southgate Street.

Built on the old Norman castle in 1239, King Henry III granted money and timber from the Royal Forest of Dean towards its construction.

The old friary buildings surround a beautiful courtyard space with a fine ancient apple tree. After the dissolution of the monasteries the church was converted into a private house, with other buildings converted into a cloth manufactory employing over 300 townspeople.

The Scriptorium on the south side is the oldest surviving purpose-built library building in Britain, featuring an original scissor-brace timber roof and study carrels including one with charming medieval graffiti.

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Fun Fact

The friars would have eaten very well, but also had to travel everywhere on foot: the Prior would have attended Chapter meetings at Bologna, Italy; a journey which could take up to 100 days in each direction.

Location

Longitude and latitude for Blackfriars: 51.864441,-2.248771

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