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
|Names:||St. Oswald's Priory|
|Categories:||minsters; ruins; priory churches|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||51.869443° N, 2.247863° W|
|Lodging:||View hotels near St. Oswald's Priory|
- Personal visit (October 15, 2007).
- Signboard at the site.
Map of St. Oswald's Priory, Gloucester
Below is a location map and aerial view of St. Oswald's Priory. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.