The Convent Has Been the Residence of The Gibraltar Governor Since 1711:
Towards the southern end of the Main Street of Gibraltar is The Convent, the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar since 1711. This humble name of the building is derived from the fact that the building was originally founded as a Franciscan Convent.
The Franciscan Friary was founded around 1480, earlier than the Discovery of America. When the friars left Gibraltar in 1704, use of the building was transferred to Gibraltar’s Governor and it subsequently became the Governor’s residence. The Convent’s red brick facade and marble portico date from 1863.
As a result of protests from extreme protestant organizations in 1903, the building was renamed to “Government House”. However, during a war-time visit by King George VI in 1943, he authorized the resumption of the old name and up to today the building is called The Convent. The Governor must enjoy telling foreign dignitaries that he lives in a convent!
Adjacent to the Convent is the King’s Chapel which later became the garrison church. King’s Chapel was renamed “Queen’s Chapel” during Queen Victoria’s reign, however Queen Elizabeth II restored the name to its original King’s Chapel.The building was used as a store during the Great Siege of 1779-1783. Two British governors were buried here.
Changing of the Guard
The Convent is guarded by officers of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment. Following in the tradition of British royal ceremonies, a Changing of the Guard takes place in front of the Convent. If you’re in the area, you’ll most likely witness this as it takes place several times a day. It is nowhere as grand as the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, but nevertheless, it does attract some attention.
My favourite building is the attractive building across the road from the Convent. The white Convent Guard House has two shining brass cannons in front of it.