I’m always up for a blogger meet up, especially if it means exploring somewhere new with my son. I’ve been part of the TOTS100 blogger community for pretty much the entire time I’ve been blogging and when I was invited to a recent regional meet up in Gloucester Cathedral I decided it would be a nice day out for us both. So last Saturday we headed off from home bright and early to spend the day exploring Gloucester Cathedral and beyond.
Our day would include a guided tour of the Cathedral itself, lunch and a chance to try out their Discovery Trail, all whilst catching up with a few other blogging families.
I’d never been to Gloucester before, but having seen that there was plenty of pay and display car parking available, we packed the car up and headed out on a new adventure. We parked up in the Westgate car park which is close to the Cathedral and main pedestrianised area of the city. The car park also has free toilet facilities should you need them.
In true Mary style we’d arrived much earlier than we’d needed to, but we decided to use the extra time to work out where we needed to meet up later, and then head over for a walk around the Gloucester Docks. The city seems quite compact and everything was easily reached within five minutes.
We admired Gloucester Cathedral from outside and walked around its perimeter to really take in the size of the place.
My son was intrigued by the square blocks pointing out the history of the city and even he, as a nine-year old was impressed by the beauty of the building in front of us. I’m very lucky that he’s an inquisitive boy, always wanting to learn and discover new things. I hadn’t been entirely sure how the day would pan out with him when I mentioned a trip to a Cathedral, but once we were in Gloucester, he was ready to soak up whatever we discovered.
At the rear of the Cathedral we found a series of arches and an old cottage which need closer inspection.
The arches provided a nice frame for the Cathedral beyond.
There was also a gated entrance to a long corridor that looked interesting. Little did we know that later in the day we’d see the corridor from inside the Cathedral itself!
My little investigator found a doorway with a metal spiked pole across it, neither of us could understand why it would be there.
With plenty of time to spare we headed over to explore the dock area of the city. We didn’t have time to visit inside the Gloucester Waterways Museum and Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, but it’s always nice to have a good reason to revisit somewhere.
You can just imagine my son’s delight when he spotted train tracks and an old crane. One very happy boy.
There were more shrieks of delight when we turned the corner to discover a swing bridge. My son loves anything that harks back to the industrial revolution.
The main purpose of our visit was the meet up inside Gloucester Cathedral, so we agreed that we’d explore the city in more detail on a future visit, there’s certainly a lot of things to interest my son, from the brief tour we’d taken.
Now a visit to a Cathedral with children may not seem like the most obvious choice, and I did have a few reservations, but when we drove home later in the day and my son told me he’d given the day a 9/10 rating I was clearly going to be pleasantly surprised.
My son is at an age now where guided tours will hold his interest for longer and with a group of mixed aged children our Cathedral tour guide, Anne, did a great job of pitching the tour to keep all of them entertained. This tour is free for any one to join, and our tour took about one hour. It’s worth noting that the Cathedral do ask for £3 for a photo permit, but entrance itself is purely down to a voluntary donation.
You couldn’t help but be in awe of the stained glass windows around the Cathedral, they really are beautiful.
Anne pointed out details in various windows as we walked around the Cathedral, drawing the children in and really holding my son’s attention.
She told us about King Edward II and his unfortunate end as well as about Robert, Duke of Normandy who was the eldest son of William the Conqueror.
We learned about the Quire and the Cathedra chair where the Bishop sits.
We also got to learn all about the filming locations for the Harry Potter films, what was covered up or changed, it was all fascinating.
One of us lay on the stone floor looking up at the bosses, on the ceiling, whilst the other told his mother to stop being so embarrassing. Had to be done! but he preferred to look in the mirror instead.
I was really impressed with the amount we’d all learned and the little details that we might well have missed without our guide.
After lunch my son was eager to try out the Family Discovery Guide which is available for £4.50 from the entrance desk. The guide offers an activity trail for children to complete and comes with a map of the cathedral and points of interest, along with a selfie frame to have some fun at the end of the trail. The trail takes around an hour to complete, but is a great way for children to discover more about this beautiful building whilst taking things in at that own pace. It also showed me just how much information my son had retained from our guided tour in the morning.
He loved trying to find the various stonemason’s marks on the pillars and watching the light streaming through the stained glass windows onto the pillars beyond.
He was happily completing the trail, taking photos of his finds and immersing himself in the history.
As well as completing the activities within the guide we could also explore inside the various chapels around the Cathedral and just take everything in. It really is a splendid building.
A must see part of the Cathedral, especially if you have children, is the Tribune Gallery which can be reached via a spiral staircase.
It’s a wonderful area with all sorts of activities for children to enjoy. From dressing up costumes to brass rubbing areas, gargoyle construction and stained glass windows to make. We were both impressed with this gallery and it kept my son and others entertained for ages. It also has wonderful views across the Cathedral.
There’s also a whispering gallery to enjoy as you walk from one side of the Gallery to the other, but the concept was lost on my son as he ran through the corridor!
The final stop of the Family Discovery Guide is the Garth, a tranquil garden in the centre of the Cloisters.
We’d had a wonderful time exploring Gloucester Cathedral and beyond and it’s somewhere we’re already looking forward to revisiting again later in the year. you can find out more about the family activities held at the Cathedral on their website.