The Convent by Gibraltar Rock Tours
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#Tours in Gibraltar#What to do in Gibraltar#Private Tours of Gibraltar#Barbary Apes#Gibraltar Apes#Quirky fact about Gibraltar# Gibraltar facts#Love Gibraltar#Gibraltar#museums#the Convent#Governor’s Residence#changing of the guards#convent ghost story#King’s chapel 1560
The Convent is situated towards the southern end of Main Street. A guard mount takes place at the main entrance a few days a week conducted by soldiers of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment. The Changing of the Guard is also conducted outside the Convent a few times a year. The convent is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a nun, known as “Lady in Grey, who is said to roam the corridor outside one of the guest rooms. It is said that she considers it to be her room, as she was walled up alive in it.
There are various versions of the “Grey Lady” story, the most popular being that she was the daughter of an affluent Spanish family who had married against her father’s wishes. When he learnt of it, he placed her in the “Convent of Santa Clara” situated in the Main Street, where under the eyes of the Mother Superior, the girl was forced to take her vows and become a nun. Her lover was not discouraged; he joined the Franciscan Order and settled in the Convent. The couple are said to have met in the confessional of the King’s Chapel where they hatched plans for their escape
On the night of their escape they made their way to the harbour where a boat was waiting for them. However, the alarm was raised and in the chase the lover fell into the water and drowned. The bride was arrested for breaking her vows and as punishment was walled up alive in one of the rooms in the Convent.
The Convent has some wonderful rooms, which the public get to use on various occasions during the year. There is a yearly Open day when the Gardens can be enjoyed by all. The Convent Christmas Fair is also a yearly event. The Governor also invites different organisations for Tea and the garden party is a rather a grand social affair. The Ballroom houses a Steinway & sons Grand Piano so is often used for Opera recitals, music festivals and Literary talks amongst other events.
Originally, part of the Chapel was converted into its present looks during the reign of Queen Victoria. Thus the collection of paintings of our monarchs commences with her. Grand Chandeliers adorn this beautiful room.
In the Banqueting hall there is almost 1300 years of history which are depicted using coats of arms, shields and pennants. Two tall double wooden doors on the eastern wall of the Hall were tables which themselves were made from wood salvaged from the wrecks of the Spanish floating batteries that attacked Gibraltar during the Great Siege (Sept 1782). The repaired burnt shot holes are prominent. The last working keys of the Fortress following from those of The Great Siege are in a glass case, replicas of which are the ceremonials and placed in front of him at all official dinners. The ceremony of THE KEYS OF GIBRALTAR commemorate the closing of the gates at night which General Elliott took very seriously.
The whole Room has an aura and odour of History.
This smaller room is used for breakfast and all other meals, unless the Governor invites a number of guests which requires the use of the Banqueting Hall. Probably made the most personalized room in The Convent by successive Governors. A number of personal pictures, photos and other mementos adorn this room.
Perhaps the prettiest room in The Convent. The Drawing Room does not possess the history and palatial looks of the Banqueting Hall but is nevertheless a very popular and homely room also containing many personal items belonging to the Governor and Lady White. Over the fireplace hangs a most interesting naval scene painted on silk. Two beautiful full chandeliers complement the interesting ceiling made of iron / tin.
Contain a number of trees planted by visiting royalty. One of the prides of The Convent collection is a Dragon Tree which until recently was exaggeratedly referred to as over 1000 years old, but now considered to date from 1470/80. An old Carob tree, some 200 years old, provides shade near His Excellency’s office.
This square patio, surrounded by an arched covered way, had a well of particularly good fresh water, in the centre. The dominating feature in The Cloister is the black statue of General Sir George Augustus Elliott (later 1st Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar) Governor during The Great Siege (1779/83). This interesting statue made of wood from the Spanish ship “San Juan” captured at Trafalgar (1805) was made for the Alameda Gardens but, as luck would have it, a bronze bust of General Elliott was put in the Alameda, allowing this more delicate wooden statue to survive under cover.
The Chapel to The Convent is now about half its original size. The Chapel, too, suffered during the sieges and the rising cost of repairs in the 18th and 19th Century were a strong contributing factor in the redeployment of its space and the shrinking of the Chapel itself.
So,If you are out and about on your Gibraltar day trip and have a little extra time check out the King’s Chapel which is open to the public and free of charge.