The Norman period.
In 1072, when there were only 2 monks and 8 novices, William the Conqueror appointed a Norman monk as Abbot of Gloucester. His name was Serlo and I imagine him as sturdy, inspiring and not a little bossy as he was responsible for invigorating and expanding the community as well as organising the building of the eastern part starting in 1089 with the nave, the crypt, its apse, its encircling ambulatory, its chapels and the choir above it. This section was dedicated on 15th July, 1100. Then he organised the building for the monks before dying in 1104. There was a serious fire in 1122 but the work on the nave was completed in about 1160. Further additions were made but the body of the building is largely Norman and its plan is excellent for allowing circulation between its various parts.
Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and this one was changed into a house of secular clergy who lived as ordinary priests, not as monks. The old Latin services were replaced with the English Prayer book which meant that worshippers could understand what was happening - and I sometimes wonder if the minor clergy were not similarly aided in comprehension.
The nave has pillars 30 ft 7 inches high to the eye but are even taller since the present pavement was raised in 1740 by several inches. The glass is mostly modern. The South Transept is reputedly the birthplace of Perpendicular architecture as, in about 1330, the Gloucester builders placed straight up-and-down tracery over the old Norman work. The tower rises above the choir to the height of 225 feet.
The Effigies. I am always on the look-out for the Welsh connection when I go abroad and sought out the tomb of the eldest son of William the Conqueror, Robert Curthose, made from Irish bog oak a century after his death in Cardiff Castle in 1134, where he had been imprisoned by his younger brother, Henry I. More magnificent is the tomb of Edward II who was brutally murdered in Berkeley Castle in September 1327, but the reasons and the supposed method are not mentioned in any of the discreet guide-books I have read. The effigy is made of alabaster and rests on a tomb chest of oolitic limestone clad in Purbeck marble.
Of the many famous people and events connected with the cathedral, I warm to the story of the hasty coronation in 1216 of the boy King Henry III using, according to legend, his mother's bracelet.
After this I enjoyed my CAKE in the café garden and then I wandered outside, gazing again at the tower, realising that part of its stunning effect derives from the presence of smaller towers around it, imitating its proportions. The doorway is splendid.
I am indebted to 3 guides for my research: one written by the then Dean, Dr. Henry Gee who died in 1938; the Pitkin Guide and one by David Verey and David Welander. Opening hours and other information may be checked by clicking here and my articles on Cardiff Castle and Berkeley Castle might be of interest to you also. I do hope so. All readers are allowed a large piece of CAKE after a visit either to a historic site or to my blog! A visit to Hereford Cathedral and Mappa Mundi is very worthwhile.