Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Hereford Cathedral (Hereford)

The cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Ethelbert at Hereford dominates both the attractive riverside and the city centre. It is one of the oldest sees in England, having been founded in 672.

St. Ethelbert was buried here. He was the King of East Anglia, and was murdered on the orders of Offa of Mercia, although he was about to marry Offa’s daughter. His shrine became an important place of pilgrimage in Anglo-Saxon England, but the cathedral was destroyed during a raid by the Welsh.

The cathedral was refounded in the 11th century, but only a little remains from the Norman period, as it was remodelled in the 13th century.

The impressive West Front is, in fact, 20th century, having been rebuilt by J. Oldrid Scott in 1908.

The Lady Chapel dates from 1222, and is built over the only Gothic crypt in an English cathedral.

In the North transept are the remains of the shrine of St. Thomas Cantilupe, Bishop in the late 13th century, who was a Provincial Grand Master of the intriguing Knights Templar.

Hereford Cathedral has the world’s largest chained library, containing about 1600 books, many of which are a thousand years old.

Even more famously it houses the Mappa Mundi, a 13th century map of the world, on vellum, showing Jerusalem at its centre In 1988, the Dean and Chapter proposed to sell it, to raise funds for the cathedral, but public opinion led to a change of policy.

The cloisters leading to the Bishop’s Palace contain a rare 12th century timber framed hall.

Hereford Cathedral is one of the hosts of the Three Choirs Festival, the other hosts being Gloucester and Worcester.

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