Archaeology discovery: ‘Long-lost’ medieval monastery find ‘exposes forgotten history’

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The “long-lost” place of worship was discovered in Gloucester’s city centre. Remains of the 13th century Carmelite friary were found nestled beneath a demolished multi-storey car park. Historians knew from records the general area that Whitefriars had stood.

However, the exact location of the monastery had eluded them for years.

The city’s King’s Quarter is set to be regenerated, with the dig having taken place as part of the redevelopment work.

It was during this project that the monastery was revealed in its entirety.

Gloucester City Council and Cotswold Archaeology researchers conducted the dig which produced the much sought after finds.

City archaeologist Andrew Armstrong said it was “very exciting” to finally reveal the exact location of “this long-lost friary”.

He said: “For around 300 years, Whitefriars played an active part in Gloucester and produced some notable friars, including Nicholas Cantelow (or Cantilupe) in the 15th century.

“Seeing and documenting this site will serve to underline, and recognise, the place of the friary in the city’s history.”

Medieval friars were similar to monks.

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Instead of devoting themselves exclusively to prayer and scholarship, however, they engaged with and served the community.

The most significant figure connected to Whitefriars was Nicholas Cantilupe, a theologian and historian from a noble family.

The most recent findings suggest there were at least four large buildings at the site.

These were either made of stone or with stone footings.


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Some of the walls uncovered measure a metre – 3 feet – wide.

Parts of a medieval drain were also found, as well as remains of tiled and mortared floors.

Some of the larger walls are aligned east-west – a typical feature for a medieval ecclesiastical building.

Last year, excavations at the site unearthed a clay floor suspected to be part of the friary.

However, the finding was insufficient enough to pinpoint exactly what monastery it was.

At one point, Gloucester was filled with several monastic organisations.

These included Blackfriars, Greyfriars, Llanthony Priory and St Oswald’s Priory.

Whitefriars was the one historians previously knew the least about.

Founded some time around the year 1270, the monastery was demolished in the 16th century.

Since then, only traces of it had survived on historical maps.

Fresh details about Whitefriars will be included in newly erected information boards at the development site.

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