Gloucester: Origins of Faith
Perhaps not surprisingly, Britain and America share deep historical and cultural connections - including the birth of religion and faith that shaped both nations. Our suggestions for our origins of faith itineraries highlight many of the most influential places, people, and stories. Giving life to a unique history that binds both nations across the generations. The first place I will feature is Gloucester, a city surrounded by peaceful spa towns, magnificent stately homes, and the lush Cotswold countryside. Gloucester Cathedral - home to John Stafford Smith, composer of the music of The Star Spangled Banner - is a must see. George Whitefield was a Gloucester native and leading light in the Methodist movement. The city was the first to host a Sunday School - thanks to founder Robert Raikes.
St Mary de Crypt
This is an impressive 15th century chapel. Be sure to visit the adjoining school room where evangelist George Whitefield, a lifelong friend of Benjamin Franklin, was taught; and see the pulpit where he first preached. Here you will also have the opportunity to learn about Robert Raikes, the founder of the 1780s Sunday School movement.
Unarguably one of the most beautiful buildings in England, Gloucester Cathedral has been an important center of Christian worship since the year 678 AD. During your visit you will marvel at the stunning craftsmanship of the 14th Century choir stalls and the Great East Window and learn all about the building’s fascinating heritage. This ancient church has witnessed some of the most important events in British history from the commissioning of the Domesday Book to the burial of Edward II, and even the coronation of Henry III all took place here at Gloucester.
Llanthony Secunda Priory
Once a ruin, this Augustinian priory was founded in 1136 by Miles de Gloucester, first Earl of Hereford, as a retreat for the monks of nearby Llanthony Priory fleeing attack from the local Welsh population. By the 16th Century it was England’s largest Augustinian property, controlling 97 churches and 51 manor estates. The site played an important part in Gloucester’s history for over 900 years and has been extensively restored and conserved for future generations to visit, enjoy, and appreciate.
St John’s Northgate Church
This Methodist church has the distinction of being the oldest continually used site for Methodist worship in the world. In fact, both John Wesley and George Whitefield preached from the pulpit here.
Robert Raikes House
Today a pub, this 16th Century timber-framed town house on Gloucester’s Southgate Street was home to Robert Raikes, the pioneer of the Sunday School movement. During your visit to the area be sure to head to Gloucester Park and see the statue dedicated to Raikes.
Did you know that Button Gwinnett (also spelled Gwynnett), signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born here in Gloucester? Today, Button Gwinnett is most famous for his autograph which is highly prized by collectors eager to acquire all 56 signatures from the Declaration of Independence. Since Gwinnett died during the war, only 51 examples of his are known to exist today, and ten are privately owned.
Gloucester is easily accessed by train from London in just about 2 ¼ hours. It is about 100 miles by road. We can arrange for Gloucester to be included in any itinerary, either fully faith based or as an addition to your other interests.