As discussed in the previous article, the history of Gloucester can be traced to the period when it was a Roman town. It lies around the first point where it became possible to cross the River Severn. This made the place a natural location for building a town. This article is going to look at the remaing history of Gloucester, from the 13th century onwards. If you are interested in the development of Gloucester pre-13th Century, read more here.
The development of Gloucester started around 46AD and by the 13th century, there were visible signs of growth in the area. During the 13th century, the friars came to Gloucester to preach. Friars could be likened to the monks of today, though instead of withdrawing from public they went about preaching. The Franciscan friars came in 1231 and they were commonly called Grey friars due to the costumes they wore. The Dominican friars came in 1239 and they were referred to as Black friars.
Gloucester continued to prosper from this time onwards, and what actually added to the prosperity was the tomb of Richard II at St Peters Abbey. The tomb drew visitors from all over, making the place a center of tourist attraction. During the 15th century, a drastic change came over Gloucester as the town entered a long period of economic depression. There are many factors which were responsible for this economic depression including the increase in the level of competition from other surrounding towns in the wool trade, and the fact that Wales was conquered, removing Gloucester as a strategically positioned town.
In the year 1541, Gloucester had a new bishop and the Abbey Church, which had the previous year been dissolved by Henry VIII, was transformed into a Gloucester Cathedral. Between 1509 and 1553, Henry VIII and his son, Edward, introduced some religious changes into England. The story of the town changed in the 16th and 17th centuries. During this period the wool trade continued on a downward turn and the town suffered from different outbreaks of plague. By the 17th century, Gloucester has become an unimportant town with a population of about 5000. In 1540, Crypt School, a grammar school was opened whilst, in 1668, a blue coat charity school also opened. Ladybellgate House was built in the 18th century and in 1768, two new market sites were created to house stalls which were previously getting in the way of traffic.
In the 19th century, there was a great improvement in Gloucester and by the 20th century, a lot of social amenities were installed which transformed the whole of Gloucester. As of today, the population of Gloucester stands at around 150,000.