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Address of Hereford Cathedral
Geographic Location: Lat: 52.05459; Long: -2.71596 - GeoTag: GB-HEF
Hereford Cathedral is a Cathedral and Abbey managed as a Tourist or Visitor Attraction by an Independent/Unknown Organisation and is located in or near Hereford, England.
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“It seems probable that the See of Hereford,” wrote the Hon and Very Rev. James W. Leigh, Dean of Hereford, some years ago “is one of the few bishoprics which have come down almost without interruption from the first establishment of Christianity in our land until the present day. Heylin considered it was the most ancient in England; Archbishop Ussher says it was the seat of an Episcopal See in the sixth century, and that one of the bishops attended a Synod convened by the Archbishop of Caerleon A.D. 544, and that a Bishop of Hereford was present at the conference held by St Augustine in 601.” Dean of Leigh’s statement is confirmed by other authorities, although the first Bishop actually named by most historians is Putta, who was translated to Hereford from the See of Rochester in Kent 676, three years after it had been decided by a Synod held by Archbishop Theodore that the Mercian dominion should be split up into several new dioceses. When Putta entered his new office the area of the Diocese of Hereford was lessened, and Worcester became the head of a separate See. From the time of Putta – who, the Venerable Bede tells us, was more careful about ecclesiastical than secular matters – there has been an unbroken succession of Prelates at the picturesque Wye City.
Of the Cathedral Church and of the earliest Hereford Bishops there is little accurate information. The first church, thought to have been built prior to A.D. 600, was probably, like most Early Saxon edifices, of wattles or wood. In A.D. 676 a church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The murder, A.D. 793, at Sutton Walls of Ethelbert, King of the East Anglians, instigated by Offa, King of Mercia, had an important bearing on the future of the Cathedral. Ethelbert’s assassination is said to have been due to his wish to marry Ĉlfrida, Offa’s daughter. Her mother, Queen Quendrida, opposed the union, believing, it is said, that, in aspiring to become her son-in-law, Ethelbert was planning to succeed Offa. Ethelbert was buried at Marden “amid supernatural manifestations,” and tradition says that the stories of these, added to remorse, led Offa to remove the body to Hereford Cathedral, where it was re-interred beneath an elaborate shrine. It is further recorded that Wilfred, a viceroy of Egbert, King of Mercia, built a noble church of stone about A.D. 825, and dedicated it to St Mary and St Ethelbert.
Bishop Athelstan (vir magnĉ sanctitatis, according to Florence of Worcester), who found the church in a great state of decay (A.D. 1012), practically rebuilt it. Athelstan, although blind for thirteen years before his death in A.D. 1056, directed the affairs of the See with great fervour, and it must have been a heavy blow to him when his Cathedral was burned down in A.D. 1055 by a Welsh horde which overran the city.
They burned the town and the great mynstre, which the venerable Bishop Athelstan had before caused to be built, that they plundered and bereaved of relics and of vestments and of all things and slew the folk and led some away.” An excerpt from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
Twenty years elapsed before any attempt was made to raise another Cathedral. The task fell to the lot of Robert Losinga of Lorraine, the first Norman Bishop, who is thought to have taken as his pattern the basilica of Aix-la-Chapelle. Losinga erected the Choir, Transepts, and Choir aisles, his original plan being carried on by Bishop Reynelm – whose monument in the Choir contains the phrase “Fundator Ecclesiĉ” – and completed in 1148 by Bishop R. de Betun. About A.D. 1180-90 the Gothic or Pointed style began to be developed at Hereford as elsewhere, and the eastern apses of the Norman church gave way to Transitional work, a considerable portion of which still remains to be seen at the Ambulatory or crossing of the Eastern Transept west of the Lady Chapel. The North Transept was transformed by pointed arches and windows of a very original kind under the direction of Bishop Peter de Aquablanca (1240-68).
It scarcely needs apology to digress from the progress of the Cathedral to the stage at which we now see it, in order to take up again the immensely interesting history of the See. The archives of the Dean and Chapter are singularly informative, and a great debt of gratitude is owing to Canon W. W. Capes for his translation of the charters and records of the Cathedral. Canon Capes marshalled a long series of charters containing grants from the Norman and Angevin monarchs, who are sometimes spoken of as the founders and benefactors of the Church at Hereford. “Documentary evidence,” says Canon Capes, “implies that the liberality chiefly came from the rulers and nobles of Saxon England. The Conqueror indeed restored manors to the See of which it had been derived by Harold, but his successors were mostly content to issue licences for fairs and markets on Episcopal domains, or to confirm possessions enjoyed before, or to sanction forest rights. The grant of sixty acres near Hereford made by Richard I is the chief exception to the rule.”
Men of all classes were moved by the glorious ideals and the Faith of which Hereford Cathedral is a symbol. The rich and noble, Canon Capes shows, were not the only benefactors, for there are many charters in which the offerings of tradesmen and mechanics are recorded. One deals with the rent-charge of 1d by Richard de Medimor on land in Madeley; John, the cook’s son (Johannes Filius Radulphi coci), gives a ground rent of 2d. “to the church of Hereford”; Dean Jordan gave land in A.D. 1175 “to brew good beer for the canons.” David d’Aqua, after purchasing land to increase the income of his prebend, gave tithe of it about the same time to provide money for a distribution among the clergy of simnel cakes, which were eaten in his memory from that day forward till the ministers of Queen Elizabeth I had the little fund diverted for an usher in the Cathedral School; another kindly spirit, Elyas of Bristol, bethought him, in A.D. 1230, of “ampler commons of bread and beer.”
In the thirteenth and part of the fourteenth centuries the Cathedral lacked funds. During Bishop Hugh Ffoliot’s period of office the hospital of St Ethelbert in Hereford was founded, the citizens pledging themselves to pay for its support “a tithe of their fair on St Denis Day; and the Abbot and convent of Bristol showed their sympathy by substantial offerings of beans.”
Ffoliot it was who excommunicated the citizens for unjustly distraining on his tenants for the payments of local rates. Peter de Aquablanca, a Southern Frenchman, we read in Canon Capes’ work, stamped his influence most markedly on the dignities and fabric of the Cathedral and “carried through with little scruple financial expedients which were in the interest of the English Crown and the Papal Court, and which made him perhaps the most detested man throughout the religious houses and rectories of England, causing Matthew of Paris to write of him that his memory ‘exhaled a sulphurous stench.’” His agent Bernard Prior of Champagne, was much detested, and was murdered in the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene – non religiosus sed irreligiosus (Ann. Tweksb.)
Peter de Aquablanca rebuilt the North Transept, which can be compared with the earlier Norman work, and “discontented canons who disliked the innovations were forced by papal bull to bear their shape of expenses.” Peter unsuccessfully appealed in 1250 to Henry III and to Rome to sweep away ancient precedents in matters concerning the rights of the Dean and Chapter. He, however, was too generous to harbour long any ill-feeling for those who had opposed him, and vested in the Dean and Chapter the control of the charity he had endowed with lands at Holme Lacy, and made other benefactions. Bishop Peter, Dean Leigh tells us, is said to have been the prelate “whom Robin Hood robbed in the glades of merry Barnsdale.”
Of the many interesting Herefordian documents the reader is tempted to linger longest over those relating to St Thomas de Cantilupe, the Bishop of Hereford who was canonised in A.D. 1320. Cantilupe was the son of William, Lord Cantilupe and his wife Millicent, Countess of Evreux. He died near Orvieto. While his bones were being conveyed into Hereford Cathedral, says an old writer, “Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester, approached and touched the casket which contained them ‘whereupon they bled afresh.’” So deeply impressed was the Earl that he made “full restitution of all lands which Bishop Cantilupe had rightly claimed of him.” Marvels of faith-healing associated with the name of Cantilupe (Canon Capes writes) and the recognition of his sanctity brought many pilgrims to his shrine. A fabric roll shows that over £4000 of our money was given in one year by devotees “attracted by the fame of the wonder worker,” which sum enabled the erection and the decoration of the central tower to be undertaken; insecure foundations were underpinned, the aisles rebuilt and much of the Eastern Transept was reconstructed.
In 1359, Canon Capes tells us, the Chapter contracted with an Evesham builder to devote the remainder of his working life to the Cathedral for 3s a week and a daily loaf of bread, and to give instructions in the arts of masonry and carpentering to the labourers under him.
From the thirteenth century the changes and additions to the Cathedral may be arranged chronologically as follows:
Thirteenth Century or Early English: The Lady Chapel and Crypt, the Clerestory of the Choir, and the north transept, a remarkable piece of work, circa 1260.
Fourteenth Century or Decorated: The rebuilding of the Choir and Nave aisles, the inner north porch, the north and south ends of the eastern transept, the central tower, a western tower, now destroyed, and the Chapter House, now unfortunately in ruins.
Fifteenth Century or Perpendicular: The first of this period here began about 1400 by alterations in the south transept, followed by the Stanbury Chantry Chapel 1470, and the Audley Chapel 1500; the Cloisters also belong to this period, and finally the North or Booth porch, completing the pre-Reformation church.
In 1786 the western tower, originally built it is believed by De Braose, fell, carrying with it two bays of the Nave, one of which has never been rebuilt. The present triforium and clerestory of the Nave are the work of James Wyatt, 1786-96, replacing the magnificent Norman work which he wantonly destroyed.
The West Front, reconstructed by Wyatt after the collapse of the tower, has now been replaced by work designed by Mr John Oldrid Scott, 1901-7, which he added considerably to the beauty of the building. It presents a handsome facade containing sculptured figures, and includes a stained glass window to the memory of Queen Victoria, the gift of the women of Herefordshire.
The massive central tower (1320-40), the decorated work of which is enriched with ball-flower ornament, was at one time surmounted by a timber spire. The North or Booth porch, noticeable for its fine windows, the arcading on the Lady Chapel, and the north transept are other striking features of the exterior.
Although from the point of view of size Hereford is one of the smaller Cathedrals, it is an architectural gem, for, in the opinion of the late Sir Gilbert Scott, few English Cathedrals have a more perfect series of specimens of the different styles of English architecture. The visitor can see here examples of all the fashions of architecture in use in this country during the five centuries preceding the sixteenth. The outside length of the Cathedral is 342 feet; inside, 327 feet 5 inches; Nave, 158 feet 6 inches; Choir from screen to reredos, 75 feet 6 inches; Lady Chapel, 93 feet 5 inches.
Hereford, like the neighbouring Cathedrals of Worcester and Gloucester which share the Triennial Choir Festival, has been noted for the excellence of its music. It was Bishop Putta who fostered the teaching of the Gregorian Tones introduced by St Augustine to England, and to the use of which Archbishop Theodore gave his support. From A.D. 1215 Hereford possessed its own liturgy, known as “The Hereford Use,” and in that connection is one of the cities referred to in the Book of Common Prayer preface, the others being York, Salisbury, Lincoln, and Bangor. A fine thirteenth-century manuscript of the Hereford Use, containing a quantity of choicely illuminated church music, is one of the Cathedral’s most cherished treasures.
In a chamber over the west Cloister is the Library, noteworthy for its chained books, which were for 200 years kept in the Lady Chapel, almost unseen and unknown until the restoration of the chapel by Cottingham. There are over 2000 chained volumes, the largest collection of such works in England, a number of much-valued manuscripts, and twenty-four editions of the Bible in various tongues, some dating back to A.D. 1567-1611. Here are preserved a manuscript copy of the Gospels bequeathed by Athelstan in A.D. 1055, dating from the ninth century and illuminated by Caxton (A.D. 1483); the Nuremberg Chronicle (A.D. 1493) with woodcuts by Albert Dürer; and several examples of early Venetian printing.
In a case on the east wall of the South Transept is the celebrated “Mappa Mundi.” “The map is probably to a great extent,” says Mr J. W. Jeudwine, in a chapter on Medieval Maps in his entertaining book, “The First Twelve Centuries of British Story,” “copied from one by Henry of Mainz, which was inserted in a description of the world dedicated to Matilda, the mother of Henry II. With a prophetic eye the map-maker draws the British Isles out of all proportion to the rest of Europe.” The map, probably executed by a Canon of Hereford about 1300, is of interest as showing the change in foreign relations which had come over the islands since the accession of Henry II. “In Norway the monkey is shown, possibly denoting the commercial connection with the East.” The north in this map is in some respects, Mr Jeudwine considers, almost as elementary as those on the maps executed by the Spanish monk Beatus. The North Sea has been entirely squeezed out. The Faroes, Iceland, and the Shetlands lie in line west of Norway, and the Orkneys are represented by a large circular island surrounded by smaller ones, a description more applicable to the Shetlands. The map contains the names of a number of cities in Great Britain which had by this time assumed some importance in political life. Referring to the amount of detail given for the south of Europe as compared with “the monstrosities and fabulous details” of the east and north, Mr Jeudwine points out that all the maps of this period were pictures of nations on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, drawn by men whose interests were solely in Rome and the East. “One ought not to be too critical of the wild romance which furnished illustrations for this work of art, the Biblical stories, the heathen mythologies, the medieval legends, which appear in this map more freely than in many others much earlier. The men of that day had suddenly been brought face to face with the greatest of all miracles, the illumination of the Biblical story, the epitome of the heathen mythology, the source of the medieval legend. . . . No miracle, no phantasm, no creation of abnormal life seems impossible to the men of that day.”
Another much-prized treasure is a chasse or reliquary, resembling the Limoges work of the early thirteenth century, consisting of a casket with figures, pronounced by experts to be a picture of the Martyrdom of Thomas Becket.
The latter-day pilgrim will enjoy the Cloisters, and the grandeur of the Bishop’s Palace and other buildings which breathe the spirit which has permeated the Cathedral City of Hereford throughout the centuries.
Since the description of Hereford Cathedral contained in the preceding text was researched the Crypt has been restored by the benefaction of Sir Henry Webb, in memory of his son, Basil, who fell in the Great War. The Crypt which, like the Lady Chapel above it, is a beautiful specimen of Early English architecture, built soon after 1200 A.D., had for many generations been desolate from disuse; and it is a cause for great satisfaction that it has once more been opened as a place of worship. The areas outside the windows have been thrown back so as to admit more light to the chapel; the walls have been carefully brushed, but not scraped; a clean, bright floor of stone has been laid; and the little sanctuary has been furnished with an altar of stone surmounted by a reredos in which are figures of St Michael, St George, and St Ethelbert, the work of Sir William Goscombe John, R.R.
Another graceful addition to the beauties of the Cathedral is that of eight small windows which have been placed in the Stanbury Chapel, as a gift of Mr Lennox Lee, of How Caple Court. Mr Le, who is an old Etonian, wished to commemorate in Stanbury’s chantry the bishop’s association with his old school. A reference to the archives of Eton College has shown that Bishop Stanbury was not, as has sometimes been stated, its first Provost; but, as confessor to King Henry VI, he seems to have been much consulted by his sovereign over the plans of the royal foundation, and, perhaps, he might have been its first Provost if he had been willing to accept the office. The stained glass, in two series of four windows each, is the work of the Bromsgrove Guild, and represents the foundation of Eton College and the enthronement of Stanbury as Bishop of Hereford.
Before long there will be placed in the Cathedral a memorial bust of John Percival, Bishop of Hereford from 1895 to 1918, the work of Mr Allan Wyon, and some fine fragments of fourteenth and fifteenth century glass which were removed from the Cathedral, as is believed, after the fall of the Western Tower in 1786, and, after being for more than a century in Hampton Court, Herefordshire, have been returned to the Cathedral by the generosity of Mr R Grosvenor Thomas and Mr Wilfrid Drake.
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Railway Stations near Hereford Cathedral
Listed below are the nearest 6 Railway Stations within approximately 25 miles of Hereford Cathedral with roughly the closest at the top of the list and the furthest at the bottom. For further detail click on the station name.
Station Name Station TypeHereford Station Railway Station (Part-time staff)
Leominster Station Railway Station (Part-time staff)
Ledbury Station Railway Station (Unstaffed)
Ludlow Station Major Railway Station (24hr staff)
Colwall Station Railway Station (Unstaffed)
Great Malvern Station Railway Station (Part-time staff)
Malvern Link Station Railway Station (Part-time staff)
Lydney Station Railway Station (Unstaffed)
Knighton (Powys) Station Railway Station (Unstaffed)
Pontypool and New Inn Station Railway Station (Unstaffed)
Hotels near Hereford Cathedral
The hotels near Hereford Cathedral listed below, roughly in order of distance from Hereford Cathedral; closest at the top furthest away at the bottom, is within approximately 6 miles (10Km) of Hereford Cathedral, the exact locations being displayed on the map above. For more information and the ability to check availability and book on-line click on the hotel name.
If the attraction is in a rural area you may need to zoom out with the map to see all the listed hotels near Hereford Cathedral. IMPORTANT: If there is a big river or other obstruction nearby please make sure you choose a hotel on the correct side of it as our distances are calculated as the crow flies!Star Rate Hotel Name Accommodation Type