Conservation work to help restore Gloucester’s Grade I listed former Fleece Hotel, which is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, has begun.
News broke in October 2021 that the project had won a share of £20 million of government Levelling-Up cash to bring the building back to life as a boutique hotel – with Cheltenham-based Dowdeswell Group named as the firm that could make that happen.
And now £3.9 million of ‘major conservation works’ has begun on the 15th-century timber-framed building as part of what is called the Cathedral Quarter High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) project.
According to Gloucester City Council and Historic England, the project will expose more of the medieval timber framework of the Westgate Street building so that it can be properly recorded prior to the start of Dowdeswell Estates’ project.
The High Street HAZ also includes work to the Grade II* listed former Meeks Shoes shop building opposite The Fleece, which features ‘a fine 17th-century plasterwork ceiling’.
Rebecca Barrett, regional director at Historic England, said: ‘We’re delighted that repairs to two of Westgate’s outstanding historic buildings have begun.
‘This is an important milestone in the High Street HAZ and an important step for The Fleece which has been at risk for a long time.’
This first phase of work at The Fleece is expected to take up to four months, after which the city council will seek match funding for the boutique hotel project.
The Fleece is built over a stone undercroft dating to the late 1100s and is believed to have been developed as an inn close to 1500 by the abbey – which is now Gloucester Cathedral. It was first recorded as the Golden Fleece Inn in 1673.