GLOUCESTER

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“I which am the queen

Of all the British vales, and so have ever been

Since Gomer’s giant brood inhabited this isle,

And that of all the rest myself may so enstyle.”

DRAYTON. Vale of Gloucester.

CAER-GLOW, or the “fair city” of the ancient Britons, is a name happily

characteristic of Gloucester. The beauty of its situation, on a gentle eminence

overlooking the Severn, where its stream is divided into two channels by the Isle of

Alney ; the richness and fertility of the surrounding districts ; its highly picturesque

scenery ; its splendid cathedral and numerous public buildings ; and latterly the tide of

prosperity occasioned by the vast improvements in regard to its inland port, present a

combination of attractions for which it would be difficult to find a parallel in the British

provinces. Commercial enterprise has now a fixed residence in the place, and within the

last ten years has made great and important advances in the several departments of

foreign and domestic industry.

The Port of Gloucester and the Cathedral, of which the accompanying plate

gives a most correct and interesting view, are the two principal features; and to these, in

accordance with the plan of the work, our descriptive text will be more strictly confined.

The Port is of great antiquity, — so much so as to have existed as an inland harbour

long prior to any written document of the place, — but it is only of late years that ships

of burden could be anchored in the city basin. A century ago, as recorded in the Magna

Britannia, the Port of Gloucester had a large quay and wharf on the banks of the river,

very commodious for trade, to which belonged a custom-house, with officers proper

for it; but the business was not great, as the city of Bristol, only a few miles distant,

had engrossed all the foreign trade in this part of the country. The vessels which at

the period in question navigated the Severn were generally small trading-craft, of

between fifty and two hundred tons burden, so that Gloucester was deprived of all

those advantages which have been so happily secured to it by modem enterprise

and improvement. Of these, the Berkeley ship-canal is a noble monument. By the

vast facilities thus afforded, the commerce of Gloucester has enjoyed a course of

uninterrupted prosperity, and bids fair to eclipse even Bristol itself in the extent and

ramifications of its still increasing trade. Ships of heavy burden are now safely moored

in the basin, and discharge those cargoes in the heart of the city which had formerly to

be transshipped at Bristol, and conveyed to their destination by means of barges and

lighters.

The Gloucester Spa, which is now become a place of fashionable resort, has

contributed in no small degree to the many attractions of the city and its vicinity. This

saline chalybeate was first opened to the public by a grand fete, in May, 1815. The

establishment contains every requisite for the health and recreation of the visitors,

and vies as much with Cheltenham and Leamington in its appropriate and tasteful

arrangements, as it does in the salubrious qualities of its spring — in proof of which

numerous testimonies are daily added as the result of experience. There is a very

handsome pump-room, with hot, cold, and vapour baths, and an abundant supply of

water. The Spa is in the centre of grounds tastefully laid out, embellished with all the

care and effect of landscape-gardening, and presenting to the pieton and equestrian a

pleasing variety of shady walks and rides,

“Mid rural scenes that fascinate the gaze,

And conjure up the deeds of other days.”

The Cathedral of Gloucester is deservedly considered one of the noblest

specimens of ecclesiastical architecture in Christendom. It is a grand object with

every traveler who enters upon a tour of the English provinces, and makes a strong

impression on the mind, even after he has visited the gorgeous temples of Rome and

Milan.

In the interior of the cathedral are numerous specimens of monumental

sculpture; among which the most remarkable are those of Robert, Duke of Normandy,

and Richard the Second. The present altar, of the Corinthian order, is placed before the

rich tracery of the original high-altar, which, except from the side galleries of the choir, is

concealed from view. The great elevation of the vault overhead, the richness and variety

of its designs, the elaborate and minute tracery with which the walls are adorned, added

to the vast dimensions of the great oriel — eighty-seven feet in height — render the

choir an almost unrivalled specimen of what is styled the florid Gothic, and leave an

impression upon the stranger’s mind never to be obliterated.

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