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Carpe Diem – Sieze the Day – St Mary’s Gate Gloucester

Tip 64 – ‘Carpe Diem’ – Seize the Day

St Mary’s Gate” or the “Great Gate” is centrally located at the mid-point of the western abbey wall within the Gloucester Cathedral precincts. It is the main gate that leads to the medieval abbey and on the same axis as the Bishop Hooper monument and St Mary de Lode church. The room above St Mary’s Gate was used by the Cathedral’s Chapter Clerk for his records and on one dreadful day in 1555 the Dean and Chapter made it their viewing place when Bishop John Hooper was burned.

This is part of a conservation area that forms a separate and distinct parish. All of these buildings once had an important relationship to the nearby River Severn that has since been lost though the filling in of water channels and the development of land in the Vale of Gloucester flood plain.

The precise whereabouts of the seventh-century minster (established around AD 677 by Osric, a prince of the Hwicce dynasty) has never been established, though the most plausible theory is that it lay under the present cathedral cloister, on the same alignment as St Mary’s Gate and St Mary de Lode church. The minster became a Benedictine abbey in 1022, and was rebuilt by Bishop Eldred of Worcester in 1047–62. In common with nearly all of England’s important Saxon churches, the pre-Conquest abbey was obliterated by the Normans, as part of their campaign to stamp their cultural mark on Saxon England after the Conquest, and replaced by a new abbey, which survives as today’s cathedral. Standing under the arch of the gatehouse and gazing towards the magnificent cathedral is to transport yourself into another age a world away from the nearby shopping streets.

It is a quiet and tranquil spot that somehow seems to bridge old and new as well as past and present.

Every day of our life is unique and special in its own way. We should never take our time on Earth for granted but grasp every opportunity to enhance our experience by seizing every moment before it passes forever.

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