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VIDEO: United States national anthem played on Gloucester Cathedral bells

Oh, say can you hear... is that the tune of the national anthem of the United States of America being played on Gloucester's Cathedral bells?

Visitors walking around the centre of Gloucester this morning - a long time after dawn's early light - could have been forgiven for wondering what was going on.

The Star Spangled Banner rang out from the bells in celebration of US Impendence Day, but also to mark the start of a special ploy aimed at attracting American tourists to the city.


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Next year marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower to the America and to mark the anniversary thousands of US tourists are expected to head to Britain.

Marketing Gloucester have teamed up with Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester Civic Trust and Discover De Crypt to devise a specialist package tour aimed at the US market.

The tour called "Whitefield's Gloucester and the Star Spangled Banner" honours two sons of Gloucester with links to the land of the free.

It is John Stafford Smith's legacy who is being celebrated on the Cathedral Bells.

In 1750, Gloucester Cathedral was the birthplace of the man who wrote the music for a tune he called the Anacreontic Song for a London gentlemen's club.

The rousing tune was then paired with the words of a poem called Defence of Fort McHenry by Francis Scott Key in 1812 to become the national anthem of the United States.

Next year, the sound of the Star Spangled Banner will be played on the Cathedral organ as part of the package tour that will see US tourists given a hour-long tour of the site.

Visitors will also tour the city learning of the Roman and medieval history and links with Charles Dickens and Beatrix Potter.

There will also be a tour of St Mary de Crypt Church, where George Whitefield was educated and preached his first sermon.

Whitefield was considered a master orator and was a lifelong friend of Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States and sixth President of the republic.

George Whitefield became a leading preacher in the early United States and it was once said that his voice was so loud it could be heard by up to 30,000 people at a time.

Dean of Gloucester, the very reverend Stephen Lake said Gloucester's unique connection with the United States would be a magnet for visitors.

He said: 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."

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