Statue of Emperor Nerva
This dude is after whom Gloucester is named (Colonia Nerviana Glevensis), quite lucky too as he was only an Emperor for two years (96-98 AD) so if it wasn't for the fact that Gloucester became a colonia (sort of a retirement home for Roman Legionaries) during his brief reign it could have been called something else entirely!
Apparently by Roman Emperor standards he was quite an enlightened and tolerant soul being a distinguished lawyer (don't hold that against him!) who carefully fostered and developed the Civil administration of the Roman Empire initiating many welcome social measures during his brief tenure. Indeed when he died, it was said nobody could have done so much for the Empire in such a short time!
One funny aspect regarding the statue is its conventionally virile pose with Nerva on his horse in military uniform, contemporary accounts have him as being a rather frail 66 year old when he took power - I guess the Romans weren't above a bit of spin themselves...
The statue was erected in 1997 to commemorate the 1900th anniversary of the foundation of Gloucester.
More info on this little-known but interesting Emperor, Marcus Cocceius Nerva
Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum
The Soldiers of Gloucestershire museum is situated in the old Customs House building at Gloucester Quays. It holds the collections of the Gloucestershire Regiment and the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars and give visitors an insight into life in the regiments over the years.
You can get 2 for 1 on entry by visiting the website and printing out a voucher
Senior citizens, students & concessions: £3.25
Family ticket (2 adults & 2 children): £13.00
January - mid March:
10:00am - 5:00pm (open Tuesday to Sunday)
mid March - September:
10:00am - 5:00pm (open every day, including public holidays)
October - December:
10:00am - 5:00pm (open Tuesday to Sunday)
The Bell Inn
By the first half of the sixteenth Century the Bell in was a famous hostelry and in 1783 was appointed as the official stopping point for the London Mail Coach as well as the Bristol and Bath stagecoaches. There was a concert room at the inn which featured the latest music of the day, this proved very popular with the locals. The Bell Inn was immortilised by Henry Fielding in his satirical novel Tom Jones, published in 1749. In this he recommends the fayre and hospitality available.
The Bell Inn of today is still a lively establishment with a very tasty looking restaurant specialising in pan-Asian dishes.
The Bell Inn was closed during the time of our visit but I'm sure this means we need to visit another time during opening hours!
A Major Port during Tudor times...
...although miles inland...
Gloucester was initially founded by the Romans in AD43 as part of their conquest of Britain and in the 60s AD a Roman fortress was built on the present day site of the city centre. Its grid formation and street names (Southgate, Eastgate and Westgate) are a testament to this era.
During the shortlived reign of Emperor Nerva, Gloucester was granted the title of Colonia Nerviana Glevensis, the highest status that a Roman provincial town could attain.
Gloucester has strong royal connections, being granted a royal charter by Henry II in 1155, acknowledging the city's equal status with London and Winchester. Henry III was crowned in Gloucester in 1216, being the only monarch since the Norman Conquest to be crowned outside London and Edward II was buried in the cathedral, eventually becoming a mediaeval 'tourist attraction' drawing pilgrims in vast numbers due to his tomb's supposed mystical healing powers.
Gloucester was also a turing point of the English Civil War when in 1643 King Charles I demanded the surrender of the city and for about a month an army of about 35,000 men camped outside the city, which was defended by no more than about 3,000 soldiers and militia. The city was relieved by an army from London on September 5th, and with it went Charles last real chance of winning the war. In rememberance of this act of defiance when the monarchy was restored, Charles II ordered that the walls be razed to the ground.
During WWII Gloucester was famous for it's aircraft and the development of the jet engine by Frank Whittle.
Not a bad little history for a small city!
Gloucester makes a great jumping off point between both the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean.
Gloucester is also a Rugby Town as we found out hearing the raucous cheering from the cathedral cloisters!
"Quick Tips and Suggestions"
You can easily 'do' Gloucester in a day or two, with the top two attractions being the beautiful cathedral and the historic docks area. The Cathedral is one of the most impressive in the UK and also holds significance for American visitors as the resting place of ohn Stafford Smith, who composed the US national anthem...
There are a number of other lesser attractions that might be of interest as well and there are many buildings and places in town that are steeped in history.
Why not have something to eat or drink in the plenty of nice cafes, bars and restaurants?
All the bits you'd want to visit in Gloucester are bunched very close together in the city centre and the historic docks and therefore it is very easy to get around walking, especially as the centre is pedestrianised...
There is plenty of parking with the easiest location to my mind being the parking in the historic docks.
There are buses but I very much doubt you would need to use them for a visit, though there are connections to the cotswolds and Bristol further afield.
The easiest way to get here without your own transport is by train.