Wessex Attractions: Blackfriars, Gloucester

Blackfriars is a former Dominican priory located on Southgate Street in Gloucester. It was founded in 1239, during the reign of Henry III, on the site of a former Norman castle; and was one of the first friaries to be established in England. Dominicans were colloquially known as “black friars” due to the colour of their habits, as distinct from the Franciscan “grey friars” and the Carmelite “white friars”, both of whom also had friaries in Gloucester.

During the reign of Henry VIII, the priory was dissolved as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In the 19th century, the buildings were converted into housing, and a bottling plant. They remain one of the most complete examples of a medieval monastery surviving today, and came under the guardianship of English Heritage in 1960. They are now leased to Gloucester City Council for weddings, events and conferences. See their website for more details. The Gloucester History Festival, which takes place in September, is a popular event that celebrates the history and culture of the city. The festival includes lectures, tours, and reenactments, and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Gloucester City Council has invested in the renovation of the priory buildings, ensuring that they are maintained for future generations to enjoy, including the restoration of the Great Hall, which is one of the largest surviving medieval halls in the country.

The renovation of Blackfriars also includes the creation of new spaces for art exhibitions and community events. The new spaces will allow the priory to continue to be a vital part of the cultural and community life of Gloucester.

Blackfriars is located within half a mile of the main bus and rail stations in Gloucester, and the postcode for satnav purposes is GL1 2HS.

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