St. Oswald's Priory, Gloucester

St Oswald's Priory is a ruined church north of the cathedral in Gloucester. Founded in 900 AD by Aethelflaed, the Saxon church contained the relics of St Oswald and became famous for its wealth and miracles. It later became an Augustinian priory.


History of St. Oswald's Priory

The first church on this site was founded in about 900 AD by Aethelflaed, daughter of King Alfred the Great. She and her husband Aethelred ruled the Kingdom fo Mercia at a time when its eastern territory was occupied by Viking armies.

The church stood just outside the Roman walls, which Aethelflaed re-fortified, and was named the New Minster. In 909, she and her brother Edward (king of Wessex) led a campaign into Danish-occupied Lincolnshire and brought back important relics: the bones of St Oswald of Northumbria. These were placed in a crypt at the east end of the church.

Both Aethelflaed and her husband Aethelred were buried in the church near the holy relics. For the next century, the New Minster of St Oswald was famous for its great wealth and miracles worked by its resident saint. It was nicknamed "the Golden Minster."

By the Norman conquest, however, the importance of the church had begun to decline and was overshadowed by the Old Minster (St. Peter's Abbey, which is now Gloucester Cathedral). In 1152, St Oswald's became an Augustinian Priory. In about 1250, a cloister and guest houses were built and the church was extended to the west.

St Oswald's Priory was dissolved in 1537 and its guest houses became a private house. But the north aisle was converted into a little church by blocking up the arches, and was used for worship for another century. In 1656, this was pulled down, leaving only the wall that survives today.

What to See at St. Oswald's Priory

The ruins that still stand represent a patchwork from various historical periods. The oldest parts date from the original Saxon church of 900 AD, but these consist only of some masonry at the top and bottom of the round arches on the right. The round arches themselves date from the expansion into an Augustinian priory in 1152.

The two larger, pointed arches on the left date from the westward extension in 1250. The masonry that blocks up four of the arches and forms the windows and door date from the conversion into a church following the Dissolution (c.1537).

A number of interesting artifacts were discovered on the site, including examples of Anglo-Saxon sculpture. These can be seen in the Gloucester City Museum.

Quick Facts on St. Oswald's Priory

Site Information
Names:St. Oswald's Priory
Categories:minsters; ruins; priory churches
Faiths:Augustinian Order
Styles:Anglo-Saxon Era
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:51.869443° N, 2.247863° W
Address:Gloucester, England
Lodging:View hotels near St. Oswald's Priory
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.


  1. Personal visit (October 15, 2007).
  2. Signboard at the site.

More Information

Ruins of St Oswald's Priory in Gloucester. © Holly Hayes
Arches built in 1250 and blocked up in 1537 to form a small church. © Holly Hayes
Arches from 1250 (left) and 1152 (right), both blocked up in 1537. © Holly Hayes
Large pointed arch of 1250 (left) and smaller rounded arches of 1152. © Holly Hayes
Informative sign at the site of St Oswald's Priory. © Holly Hayes

Map of St. Oswald's Priory, Gloucester

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