A medieval marvel

Gloucester’s great Cloister is famous for its magnificent fan vaulting, which is believed to be the earliest example in England.

Originally built to house the monks, it provided space for them to live, work and meditate. In many abbeys, the cloisters were traditionally built on the south side, but at Gloucester, it unusually lies on the north. 

Using the normal Benedictine layout, all of the domestic buildings would have originally branched off three of the cloister walks. 

Begun in the late 14th century and finished by Abbot Froucester before 1412, it replaced an earlier Norman cloister.

The design itself incorporates a row of twenty carrels (niche like spaces), which would have originally houses desks for the monks to study. The Cloister also includes a lavatorium, (washing place) which would have made use of a local stream. 

Harry Potter

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the troll who smashed up the girls’ toilet, trapping Hermione, walked along the north side of the Cloisters while Harry and Ron hid in the Lavatorium just around the corner.  The south side doubled as a corridor in Gryffindor, with the door at the west end of the passage being the entrance to the Common Room. This is also where the lady in the oil painting asks for the password.  

Meanwhile in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the east wall at the end of the north walk is where the fateful words ‘The chamber of secrets has been opened’ appeared, written in blood. Just a few paces from here in the east walk, is where Moaning Myrtle flooded the toilets.

The west walk was used in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Harry and Ron stood on the ledge just by the door through to the Coffee Shop. Harry also hides in the Lavatorium, at the dramatic moment where he overhears Snape saying he has already taken the unbreakable vow. 

These are only some of the scenes for which the Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral were used for the three films. You will be able to spot many more moments after your visit.

Gloucester Cathedral has in recent years been used as location in many television documentaries about medieval architecture and dramas, including the 2008 Dr Who Christmas Special, the 2012 BBC Shakespeare series The Hollow Crown, Wolf Hall (2015)

The Chapter House

On the east side of the Cloister is the Chapter House which was constructed by Abbot Serlo in the early 1080’s. Each day the monastic community gathered there and a Chapter of the Rule of St Benedict was read. The Chapter House was also where internal business was transacted, along with the election of officials. 

Today, the Chapter House is used for many Cathedral events, including world class musical recitals, but is also available for external hire. 

The Garth

Hidden within the Cloister walls, the Cathedral’s secluded Garth provides a calm oasis and one of the best views of the Cathedral’s tower – the perfect place for you to have a coffee or a quick bite to eat.