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I have to admit that Gloucester isn’t the first city you think of when it comes to photography. But, I was surprised to find that there were so many amazing Instagrammable places in Gloucester on my visit!
Of course, most people make a beeline to the impressive Gloucester Cathedral and its gorgeous historic cloisters but there is a lot more on offer here for photographers too.
From the red brick harbour of Gloucester Docks to cute alleyways that inspired Beatrix Potter, ancient priory ruins, and even the brand new Gloucester Quays shopping centre.
Here’s a complete guide for the most Instagrammable places in Gloucester, a historic city in the Cotswolds!
A brief history of Gloucester
Gloucester has a huge heritage and history and was founded by the Romans in around 48AD as it was an important crossing on the River Severn.
It was then a growing settlement in the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Wessex which is around the time Gloucester Cathedral was founded by Prince Osric.
Following the Norman Conquest, the city began to grow and became a centre for Empress Matilda during The Anarchy.
By the 14th-century, Gloucester gained huge gained notoriety when Richard II held a parliament in the city.
The city became a county in its own right during the 16th century and during the English Civil War, the Seige of Gloucester became a turning point of victory for the Parliamentarians.
The canal leading to the Gloucester Docks opened in 1827 and this expanded the economy and turned it into a powerhouse of overseas trade. It became disused by the 1980s.
Today, Gloucester city is undergoing a huge renaissance where they have recently renovated their dockyard area and opened up the shopping area of Gloucester Quays.
So, it makes it the perfect city to explore on a day trip as there is so much to do!
The most Instagrammable places in Gloucester
So, where are the best photography locations in Gloucester? Well, as you’re wandering around the city I would keep your eyes open!
This vibrant place is littered with historical buildings, colourful alleyways, and monuments that you can photograph.
Here is a complete list of the most Instagrammable places in Gloucester.
1. Gloucester Cathedral & Grounds
The most impressive building in the heart of Gloucester has to be the majestic Gloucester Cathedral. It has a history dating back over 1,300 years to 678 AD. It was founded by Saxon Prince Osric.
Back then, it was known as Gloucester Abbey and was a very important institution until the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of King Henry VIII.
After that, it faced turbulent chapters in its history and was almost demolished during the English Civil War! But, the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 meant that it once again became a powerful learning centre and place of worship.
Today, it’s the most popular attraction in the city and its building and grounds are both amazing Gloucester photography locations.
Around the cathedral, you can see the incredible almshouses and timber-framed buildings. I would also highly recommend visiting the flower garden outside the front entrance for some amazing photo opportunities.
If you head inside the cathedral, you can take some stunning photos of the Lady Chapel. Also, look out for the colourful lights that reflect on the pillars here. It happens when the sun shines through the stained glass windows!
Check here for opening times, entry is subject to services. Gloucester Cathedral is free entry but a suggested donation of £5 helps towards the upkeep. You could pay £5 for a Highlights Tour which also includes a guided visit to the cathedral.
2. Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters aka Hogwarts
One of the most Instagrammable places in Gloucester has to be the Gloucester Cathedral cloisters.
They deserve a spot on this list in their own right as most photographers will visit the city just to capture these cloisters alone!
They were begun by Abbot Horton in 1351 and completely by Abbot Froucester in 1390. Thomas de Cantebrugge designed them and now they are the earliest surviving fan vaults in the country!
They were built as a place for the monks to reflect and study but now they are famous due to being a Harry Potter filming location.
That’s right, three Harry Potter movies were filmed using these cloisters so you’ll feel like you’re walking down the corridors of Hogwarts.
You’ll find the Gryffindor common room entrance, where Moaning Myrtle flooded the bathroom and the ‘Chamber of Secrets has been Opened’ message location too!
The lighting is low in the cathedral cloisters, tripods are allowed but make sure that the cloisters are quiet when setting it up.
Read my complete Harry Potter guide for Gloucester Cathedral
3. College Court, West Gate
Just before you reach Gloucester Cathedral, you’ll probably find a small alleyway which is called College Court. It’s right by the famous West Gate entrance.
This is by far one of the most Instagrammable places in Gloucester as it’s so colourful. You’ll see lots of bunting and gorgeous shop signs which look like something from Diagon Alley.
If you visit in the early morning or after the shops closed, you’ll find you have the place all to yourself and it makes a fabulous Gloucester photography location.
But, if you do come when the shops are open you’ll find some amazing independent boutiques and tearooms to enjoy.
There’s Hubble Bubble Coffee House, Pilgrim’s, and Lily’s Cafe which is directly opposite the Tailor of Gloucester Beatrix Potter Museum!
4. The Tailor of Gloucester
Did you know that there is a connection between Gloucester and Beatrix Potter? Yep, she visited here in 1894 whilst visiting her cousin in Gloucestershire, Caroline Hutton.
She visited the West Gate and College Court and this is where she found inspiration to write her book the Tailor of Gloucester in 1902.
In her illustrations, you can see Number 9 College Court which was then the Tailor of Gloucester’s shop (if you do have the book, look up page 37). So, on your visit, you can follow in her footsteps!
Today, the Tailor of Gloucester is a FREE Beatrix Potter museum and shop that you can visit to relive the story.
Lots of people gather outside the shop window to see the adorable animated display and the shop itself is an amazing photography location!
The Tailor of Gloucester opening times are from Monday – Saturday 10am – 4pm.
5. The Old Bell & Baker’s Clock
One of the most interesting features of Gloucester High Street is the weird and wonderful Old Bell and Baker’s Clock.
The bell was originally built for Thomas Yate’s apothecary in 1660 but the historic clock dates back to Edwardian times.
The Baker’s Clock was built in 1904 and its bells are struck every quarter of an hour. You’ll see the figures of Old Father Time, John Bull, and other characters that represent Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
It’s definitely one that you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for on South Gate Street but this curious facade makes a great Gloucester photography location.
6. Gloucester Docks Main Basin
Beyond the cathedral, Gloucester Docks is by far the highlight of this wonderful city and is also one of the most Instagrammable places in Gloucester!
It’s actually the furthest inland dockyard in the country and used to be a powerhouse of industry, economy, and trade.
In 1827, a canal was built in order to allow tall ships to make their way from the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel to Gloucester Docks. This allowed for overseas trading and created lots of opportunities for the city.
In light of this, many warehouses, factories, and dry docks were built around the main canal basin. It thrived until around the 1980s when it fell into disuse.
Today, Gloucester Docks is going through a bit of a renaissance and it’s been completely renovated for pleasure cruising, restaurants, and tourism. Many warehouses have also been transformed into fancy apartments.
Now you’ll find museums, boat trips, bars, cafés, and the Gloucester Quays mall which has put Gloucester back on the map for shopping.
It’s an amazing place to explore and there are so many places to photograph around here. It’s worth spending some time looking around and following the docks trail!
Click here for my complete guide on what to do at Gloucester Docks
7. Gloucester Dockyard Warehouses
What I loved about Gloucester Docks is that although they have renovated the area, there’s lots of its heritage that has been safely preserved.
So, as you’re wandering around you’ll find lots of engine parts and old dockyard equipment on display. Also, most of the old Gloucester Dock warehouse signs have been left behind too.
Although most of the warehouses have been transformed into apartments, restaurants, and shopping boutiques, their signs still show the original owners.
For example, the buildings are called Herbert’s Warehouse or PhillPotts. As they were the businessmen who set up the warehouses in the 19th-century.
The buildings on the water make fantastic photography locations here on the docks. I loved capturing the reflections when the water was still.
8. Llanthony Secunda Priory
One of the hidden gems of Gloucester that can be found nearby Gloucester Docks is the Llanthony Secunda Priory.
This used to be a thriving abbey and place of worship which was founded outside of the city walls in 1136. It’s played an important part of Gloucester’s history for over 900 years and today it’s a scheduled monument and listed building.
The Priory existed for just over 400 years and royal visitors like Henry VII came to stay when he visited Gloucester! After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, during Henry VIII’s time, it was taken down and used as farmland.
Today, it’s a free museum that you can explore and one of the most Instagrammable places in Gloucester!
There is currently a Re-formation project going on which is hoping to bring the priory back to life. Here, you’ll find their abbey garden, visitor centre, timber-framed museum, and Victorian school building.
There are also some benches and a green where you can relax and have lunch on a sunny day. Personally, I loved wandering around the ancient ruins!
It’s just outside of Gloucester College so you may have to visit out of college hours to get good photos. But, I absolutely loved capturing this abbey through the archways.
The Llanthony Secunda Priory ruins are open 24 hours a day to explore. The museum has specific opening times.
9. Gloucester Quays
Part of the Gloucester Docks is the amazing Gloucester Quays shopping centre. Although I’m not much of a shopping person, I loved wandering around the mall as it was just so pretty.
They really have built a beautiful shopping district that complements its heritage, so you’ll find some of the shops are located underneath old dockyard warehouses with views of the water.
One of the prettiest places to visit here is the small area outside the Pillar and Lucy House where there is a small artificial green with picnic benches and bunting. It’s been set up for the foodie places around here.
Nearby, you’ll find an incredible 1950’s style mint green street food van called #CookieDough! This is well worth capturing and you could pick up some scrumptious dessert at the same time.
Click here for more information on Gloucester Quays opening times
10. Robert Raikes’ House
There were so many ancient buildings in Gloucester it was hard to keep count! I kept wanting to stop at all of them and read up on their history.
There are many signs dotted about on the city heritage trail. They go into the city’s past in great detail. So, if you were a history buff like me, I’d take some time to read them.
One of the most striking buildings I saw was the Robert Raikes’ House which was a timber-framed building on South Gate Street.
It was originally built for use as a merchant’s house in 1560. Then, in the early 18th-century, it was renovated into a home for Robert Raikes’ the Elder. He started publishing the Gloucester Journal newspaper from here in 1722.
Today, it’s a quirky inn that’s run by Samuel Smiths Brewery and has a fireplace and garden courtyard to enjoy lunch or a pint!
The architecture also makes a fabulous Gloucester photography location. So, make sure to take a picture when you find an empty moment.
11. Scriven’s Conduit & King’s Board
One of the most Instagrammable places in Gloucester can be found in Hillfield Gardens on London Road.
In the gardens, you’ll find the ruins of a conduit house that was built for John Scriven in 1636. He was a wealthy ironmonger, alderman, and mayor in his time.
Scriven’s Conduit House was made of Painswick Stone and was highly ornate. It had carvings of Roman mythology like Jupiter, the god of Rain. Also, Sabrina is the goddess of the River Severn.
Unfortunately, the conduit house was left to ruin over the centuries. But, the remains were re-erected in Hillfield Gardens in 1937 along with the King’s Board.
The King’s Board is an ornate gazebo that was gifted to the city in the 14th-century by King Richard II. The term ‘board’ comes from the Olde English word for table or lodgings. But, in terms of what the King’s Board was used for, it remains a mystery.
Is it a folly, the remains of a religious temple, a pilgrim rest stop?! Who knows! But, it is extremely pretty.
Today, the Scriven’s Conduit and the King’s Board are beautiful ruins you can explore and Gloucester photography locations. I would highly recommend visiting them if you have time.
Gloucester’s Hillfield Gardens is free to the public to explore and open from dawn til dusk.
12. Greyfriar’s Priory
You can’t get more historical in Gloucester than wandering around the ancient priory ruins of Greyfriars. It’s a free attraction that you can visit in the city and makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time!
It was a Franciscan house that was founded in 1231 and it formed part of three monasteries founded by King Henry III.
It was home to over 40 friars who had taken vows of poverty and chastity. So, they relied on donations to eat and had no worldly possessions.
They often got into arguments with the fellow monks of St Peter’s and those quarrels had to be settled by the monarchy!
In the 16th-century the church was completely rebuilt. It is now the only church where the nave and north aisle are of equal height and width in the country.
You can visit the remains in the centre of the city and part of the building is a public library. It’s an incredible place filled with heritage and it’s now one of the most Instagrammable places in Gloucester!
Gloucester Grayfriar’s Priory is free to the public to explore and open from dawn until dusk.
See the most Instagrammable places in Gloucester photography map!
What else is there to do in Gloucester and the Cotswolds?
Beyond Gloucester photography locations, the city and its surrounding areas are full of incredible things to do!
Gloucester has plenty of free museums, shopping districts, restaurants, and cafés that you can explore to your heart’s content.
But, around the area of Gloucestershire, you’re only a few miles away from the magical Forest of Dean, the Wye Valley, the South of Wales, and the amazing Area Of Natural Beauty; The Cotswolds!
If you’re looking for areas of The Cotswolds to explore, you’re only a few miles from the city of Cirencester and the gorgeous village of Bourton on the Water, and its model village.
A little further along you have Lower Slaughter, Upper Slaughter, Stow on the Wold with it’s famous door, and Moreton in Marsh.
Or, you could head south into places like Castle Combe, Lacock, Corsham, Tetbury, Burford, and more!
The Wye Valley is filled with incredible places like Symonds Yat, Tintern Abbey, Chepstow, Ross on Wye, Monmouth with the Monnow Bridge, and spectacular viewpoints like The Kymin.
The Forest of Dean is also a popular area to explore with places like Puzzlewood, King Arthur’s Cave, towns like Lydney, and villages like Tutshill which is where J. K. Rowling grew up.
Read more of my Gloucestershire and Cotswolds travel guides
The best places to visit in Painswick and the legend of the 99 yew trees
The best things to do in Snowshill
Travel tips for Cotswolds Lavender
How to visit the Broadway Tower
All the Harry Potter filming locations in Lacock
Visiting the Great Chalfield Manor Poldark location
How to visit the Harry Potter tree at Blenheim Palace
Visiting the Downton Abbey Village of Bampton
Discover the hidden Wotton-under-Edge Almshouses