Having lived in the area for more years than I wish to mention I thought I knew all about Gloucester and particularly about Kingsholm, but I hadn’t realised how important the town had been in the past even before rugby was invented!
Its position between England and Wales could well have been a main reason for Gloucester becoming such a major town in the 10th century, but when Wales was invaded the position of Gloucester was not quite so much help. Another reason may have been religion; the remains of St Oswald were brought to a Gloucester Church, which later became an Abbey, at a time where many would travel miles on pilgrimages to visit the remains of saints. Did you know that The New Inn was built in 1450 primarily for the use of Pilgrims? So, who would have guessed it?, pilgrims helped Gloucester to flourish as a town. Nowadays of course pilgrims of a different sort travel to the town. Fans of Gloucester Rugby arrive to watch the game and business clients arrive to enjoy the most stunning meeting rooms Gloucester has to offer.
Gloucester became an important and established town and because of this it became a Shire town, and earned military and administrative status; and consequently there is evidence of many royal visits, including William the Conqueror and King Edward the II, who was buried in St Peter’s Abbey in Gloucester. Councils also chose to conduct meetings in Gloucester, and these meetings were likely to have been held in the hall at Kingsholm.
The main industry in Gloucester was initially wool. The raw wool could be obtained from the Cotswolds and then woven, cleaned, thickened and eventually dyed in Gloucester. However, the leather industry and metal industry became more advantageous for Gloucester, helping them to flourish once again, as the wool industry had become more common in Britain, causing Gloucester to enter an economic decline in the 15th Century.
There you have it, next time you are taking part in a meeting in one of our conference rooms or watching Gloucester Rugby triumph again give a thought to all of the pilgrims who have gone before you on the journey to Gloucester.