On Thursday 4 July, Gloucester Cathedral’s historic bells will ring out the American national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ – composed by Gloucester-born John Stafford Smith. Following a preview on Tuesday, the bells will play the historic tune on American Independence Day at 11am, 12.45pm and 2pm for both American and British audiences to remember the origin of the tune and its significance to the city of Gloucester.
The bells will serve as a taster for regular performances of the iconic tune in 2020, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage to America. As part of the half million-pound Visit Britain Discover England Fund US Connections project, Marketing Gloucester has been working in partnership with Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester Civic Trust and Discover De Crypt to create a specialist package tour aimed at the US market entitled ‘Whitefield’s Gloucester & The Star-Spangled Banner’.
Visitors and group tours to Gloucester will be able to get involved in these commemorations and learn more about the historic connections between the UK and the US through a number of activities including:
Organ Recital of The Star-Spangled Banner at Gloucester Cathedral
A truly profound experience as you enjoy an organ recital performance of the American national anthem. Gloucester Cathedral is the birthplace of John Stafford Smith (1750 – 1836) who is best known for writing the music for The Star-Spangled Banner. His father was the cathedral organist, he was baptised there, attended the cathedral school and was also a chorister. John composed the Anacreontic Song for a London gentlemen’s club, with the rousing and popular tune making its way across the Atlantic Ocean where it was set to the words of Francis Scott Key’s famous poem, Defence of Fort McHenry, set during the War of 1812.
A Tour of Gloucester Cathedral
A 60-minute tour of one of Europe’s most impressive medieval buildings. Gloucester Cathedral has been an important centre of Christian worship since 678-9 AD. This ancient church has witnessed some of the most important events in British history: the commissioning of the Domesday Book, the burial of Edward II, and the coronation of nine-year old Henry III all took place here. The exquisite fan-vaulted cloisters are popular with filmmakers having served as locations for the Harry Potter franchise, Mary Queen of Scots, Wolf Hall and the upcoming The Spanish Princess.
City Tour with Gloucester Civic Trust
A fascinating, 60-minute guided tour where you will explore over 2,000 years of the city’s history. The walk will take in medieval churches, a magnificent Tudor galleried coaching inn, literary connections with Charles Dickens and Beatrix Potter. You will also learn about Robert Raikes, a pioneer of the Sunday School movement, and Bishop John Hooper, who was burnt at the stake by Queen Mary.
A Tour of St Mary de Crypt Church
A 1-hour tour of the recently restored St Mary de Crypt Church, an impressive 15th Century chapel. Visit the Tudor school room where one of the founders of Methodism and the Evangelical movement, George Whitefield was educated; and the pulpit where he preached his first sermon. Whitefield was a master orator and his lifelong friend, Benjamin Franklin, calculated that his voice could be heard by up to 30,000 people at a time as he preached in the early America colonies.
The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester said: “Gloucester Cathedral has a unique connection with the United States. We are proud that John Stafford Smith, the son of one of our former Organists wrote the music that became America’s famous National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner. To this day an American flag hangs inside the building over the monument commemorating this historic bond. We look forward to working with Visit Britain and Marketing Gloucester to welcome US visitors to our Cathedral and City.”
Councillor Steve Morgan, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Gloucester City Council, said:
“The people of Gloucester are justifiably proud of our long, rich and varied history and especially our connections to the United States. Such elements of history help to bring us together and strengthen our special relationship. It is gratifying to see several of our top class attractions working together with the support of Visit Britain and Marketing Gloucester to develop an offer aimed specifically at the important US market.”
Gloucester Cathedral Bells will play the Star-Spangled Banner at the following times next week:
Thursday 4 July – 11am, 12.45pm and 2pm
To book the special tour ‘Whitefield’s Gloucester & The Star-Spangled Banner’, visit
Press enquiries: For more information, please contact Ben Hau on 01452 207020 or email email@example.com.
Notes for Editors
US Connections Destination Partners
Destination Plymouth Ltd.
Destination Bristol Ltd.
English Riviera BID Company Ltd.
Essex County Council
Hampshire County Council
Lincolnshire County Council
Marketing Gloucester Ltd.
Visit Cambridge and Beyond
Visit Cornwall CIC.
Visit Hertfordshire Ltd.
Visit Kent Ltd.
Visit Worcestershire Ltd.
About the Discover England Fund
- In November 2015, the Government announced a £40 million Discover England Fund; an unprecedented opportunity for English tourism. The Fund aims to deliver world-class bookable tourism products joined up across geographies and/or themes; including integrated transport solutions to provide an end-to-end customer experience.
- The Fund supports the growth of one of England’s most successful export industries, inbound tourism. Tourism is an industry that delivers jobs and economic growth across the English regions – contributing some £106bn each year to the economy and supporting 2.6 million jobs.
- The Fund supported a number of pilot projects in year one (2016/17) that tested product development approaches. In years two and three, 2017-19, the fund will support:
- A number of large-scale collaborative projects to be delivered over the two-year period 2017-2019 that will create a step-change in bookable English tourism product for international consumers,
- A smaller funding pot for new one-year pilot projects (in year two), and
- Continuation funding for existing year one projects that demonstrated early learnings (in year two).
- VisitBritain/VisitEngland is the national tourism agency – a non-departmental public body funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)
- Working with a wide range of partners in both the UK and overseas, our mission is to grow the volume and value of inbound tourism across the nations and regions of Britain and to develop world-class English tourism product to support our growth aspirations. For further information and to access the latest in-depth market intelligence and statistics visit www.visitbritain.org or www.visitbritain.com and www.visitengland.com for consumer information.