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St. Nicholas' Church

The Church of St. Nicholas - Patron Saint of the sailors who worked on the now lost third arm of the Severn Quay - greets the north-western visitor to Gloucester as he enters the city through the site of the, now demolished, West Gate. Its huge 15th century tower and truncated spire dominate Westgate Street at a point where the Cathedral is not even visible. The spire was once 200 feet high, but suffered a direct hit during the Civil War Siege of Gloucester (1643) and, though repaired, was never again fully stable. It was reduced by about half its height in 1783.

The church is mostly 13th century with major 15th century additions, but parts of the first Norman building (1190) are also still visible: notably the south-doorway's tympanum and the north-western nave arcade. Inside, there is an excellent collection of funerary monuments covering men and women from a large number of trades and professions. The popularity of the church, in the 16th century, made it necessary to insert quadruple squints in both the north and south walls of the chancel, so that the congregation could still see the high-altar from the side chapels. 17th century civic dignitaries, like Alderman John Walton, chose to be buried in the southernmost of these (Chantry of St. Mary) and his fine effigial tomb chest can still be seen today. St. Nicholas' even became the official Church of the Corporation of Gloucester in the 1740s, when there was a dispute with the Cathedral.

The Church is owned and opened to the public by the Churches Conservation Trust. Admission free, but donations welcome. It is occasionally used for concerts and exhibitions.

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