Gloucester’s medieval monastery of Whitefriars has been found in the centre of the city after a multi-storey car park was demolished last year and archaeologists moved onto the site.
The friary was founded by members of the Carmelite order of friars in the thirteenth century but was largely demolished during the dissolution of the monasteries 300 years later. Much of what was left was destroyed about 1567, when materials from the buildings were used to fortify Gloucester during the English Civil War.
Its exact location was lost for centuries although the area is known as Friar’s Ground.
The medieval monastery found in a Gloucester car park. Pic: Gloucester City Council.
The Whitefriars monastery was the last of the five monastic houses in Gloucester to be found, after Blackfriars, Greyfriars, St Oswald’s Priory and Llanthony Secunda Priory.
Over the past year, a team of archaeologists from Gloucester City Council and Cotswold Archaeology found evidence of at least four large medieval buildings made of stone or with stone footings with some of the walls measuring a metre wide.
They also found the remains of tiled and mortared floors, and part of a medieval drain. It was significant that some of the larger walls were aligned east-west – a typical feature for a medieval ecclesiastical building.
Information boards will soon be installed at the site and the public is currently being invited to share their views on developing the location. Whitefriars’ place in Gloucester’s history has tended to be overlooked because of the lack of identifiable remains, but that has now changed.
“It’s very exciting to finally reveal the exact location of this ‘long-lost’ friary,” according to Andrew Armstrong, City Archaeologist at Gloucester City Council. “Seeing and documenting this site will serve to underline, and recognise, the place of the friary in the city’s history.”