Gloucester Cathedral: Kings, Cloisters & Harry Potter

Gloucester Cathedral has loomed over the South Western city of Gloucester for centuries. Let’s take a look at this impressive and historic building…

Gloucester Cathedral: Kings, Cloisters & Harry Potter 1
Gloucester Cathedral Exterior

How many of us have dreamed of one day entering the magical world of Harry Potter?

While the world itself may have come from the imagination of author J.K Rowling, that doesn’t mean that places like Hogwarts don’t exist in the real world. They just aren’t as magical.

They do exist, though. In fact, some of the most memorable scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed on location at the Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity – better known to many as Gloucester Cathedral.

Gloucester Cathedral has stood the test of time and is incredibly impressive.

It is the final resting place for several kings, and it is made with stunning architecture that impresses any who sees it.

That’s to say nothing of the fact it has also become something of a holy site in another way by being a central location for Harry Potter fans.

Please note, though, that most of the filming took place in the cloisters of the Cathedral and not necessarily the Cathedral itself. 

Gloucester Cathedral History 

Gloucester Cathedral: Kings, Cloisters & Harry Potter 2

The area of Gloucester has been an important one for the Church since at least the late 7th century.

It was important for other reasons as well, mostly for being an important crossing point for the River Severn.

The first stone in what would become Gloucester Cathedral was laid at the behest of Abbot Serlo around 1089 A.D. The abbot decided to go for the standard Norman design of the age.

Gloucester became a central area for pilgrimage when Edward II was laid to rest there, and pilgrims would flock to see the shrine and pay their respects. It went on to become the resting place of Robert Curthose as well. 

Norman architecture is characterized by the use of bulky foundations and rounded arches.

As the Cathedral was built and added to, it played host to different architectural designs, including Gothic styles with tall structures and refined decorations. The final changes for the monastery were put into place around the start of the 16th century. 

The Gloucester cathedral officially became a cathedral after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, turning what was Gloucester Abbey into Gloucester Cathedral.

It was the place where the Domesday Book was ordered and served as the Norman Winter Court. The Forest of Dean by the Church was a hunting forest for the royal family. 

When the monarchy was restored in 1660 following the civil wars, the Cathedral was once again placed in the hands of the Dean and Chapter. This is how the Cathedral continues to be run to this day. 

Gloucester Cathedral Today – Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and More

The modern Gloucester Cathedral stands as a beautiful example of the concept of perpendicular architecture.

Perpendicular architecture is a Gothic subgenre from between the 14th and 16th centuries. It involves the use of vertical lines for paneling and tracery.

Perhaps the most visually striking examples of this perpendicular architecture in the Cathedral is the south porch, which features a fan-vaulted roof designed to resemble a spider web.

The narrow and tall columns that offer support for the vault are also a prime example of the lightness of this perpendicular style.

If something goes wrong with the Cathedral, then it is repaired or handled through conservation efforts instead of being rebuilt or remodeled.

As such, much of the Church had retained the original design and architecture from when it was built. 

Gloucester Cathedral: Kings, Cloisters & Harry Potter 3
Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral: Photo by Christopher Cherrington

The cloisters of the Cathedral – which also include spiderweb-esque fan-vaulted roofs, are recognizable to anyone who was watched, Harry Potter.

They were used as a filming location for scenes from the first, second, and sixth Harry Potter movies. You can immediately recognize the door to the Gryffindor common room and the hallway where the warning about the Chamber of Secrets opening appeared.

A small piece of the set was left behind on location to hide a lightbox, so there’s a piece of Potter history still there.  

While the Cathedral is known for being a central filming location for Harry Potter, it’s also played host to plenty of other T.V. shows, movies, and documentaries. For example, it was used as a filming location for Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Wolf Hall. 

While visiting the Cathedral, be sure to check out the stained glass windows. One interesting little note about them is that they offer depictions of not just important moments of the bible, but also golf.

They are actually among the earliest known depictions of golf as the windows date back to 1350. They also offer a glimpse at what historians believe could be the medieval equivalent of football. 

Visit Gloucester Cathedral 

The Cathedral is open every day of the year and always welcomes guests.

Guests can enjoy the relaxing and calm atmosphere of the Cathedral and take in what appeals to them most – whether it be looking at the architecture, touring the crypts, checking where their favorite movies were filmed, or just participating in a religious ceremony.  

You can get to the Cathedral by visiting Gloucestershire town square. You can arrive by train directly to the Gloucestershire station, and there is a bus that takes you directly to the Cathedral.

If you are arriving by car, then you should follow the M5. However, you should note that there is no public parking on the site. 

The Cathedral is still a working house of God after all, and services and events are regular occasions here.

Check ahead of time to see when the ceremonies are if you are interested. For example, the Three Choirs Festival is held at the Gloucester Cathedral, Worcester Cathedral, and Hereford Cathedral on a rotating basis. 

Entrance into the Cathedral is free, but it is suggested that one makes a small donation (around $7 per adult visitor) to help pay for the costs of preserving this historical masterpiece.

There’s no better place to embrace your inner anglophile than the Gloucester Cathedral.