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Hereford Town Guide
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Hereford Tourist Information and Travel Guide in the county of Herefordshire
The City of Hereford is less than twenty miles from the Welsh border. Sitting strategically as it does on the River Wye, it was the ideal location for Saxon settlers in the 7th century. This historic city has many interesting features including the Hereford Cathedral and the 17th century timber-framed Old House.
The earliest part that survives the beautiful Hereford Cathedral is the 11th century Bishop’s Chapel. It was originally founded to house the shrine of St Ethelbert, King of East Mercia. Another handsome shrine is that of St Thomas Cantilupe, Bishop of Hereford. The striking stained glass and the four vast Norman arches of the central tower are just some of the reasons to visit.
Guided Cathedral tours are available or, if you’re feeling brave, you can climb the many steps up to the tower – open during summer months – and take in the spectacular views.
The world-renowned Mappa Mundi is a unique medieval map that depicts the world as 13th century academics saw it. The map – the largest, most intricate and intact example in existence – is drawn on a single piece of calfskin and measures 64” x 52”. A circle in the middle shows Jerusalem at the geographic centre of the world.
A fascinating history of mankind is illustrated in hundreds of drawings, which are placed around the continents. These include over 400 cities and towns along with people, animals and birds, mythical-type creatures, flora and a variety of events from biblical teachings.
The Chained Library is another unique city treasure. The oldest books are the 8th century Hereford Gospels, but this is just one of the priceless medieval manuscripts held here – incredibly, there are 229 similar ones and 1,500 other rare works. Dating from the 17th century, the Chained Library in Hereford is the largest collection to survive with all the chains, locks and rods still intact.
Both these national treasures – the Mappa Mundi and the Chained Library – can be seen inside an award-winning purpose-built building in Cathedral Close, next to Hereford Cathedral.
Two of the most prominent city museums are admission free. The Hereford Museum and Art Gallery in Broad Street has its home in a Victorian gothic building above the city’s main library. A valuable Roman mosaic is displayed on the stairway and on the second floor, there’s a good collection of local history, costumes and weaponry. The art gallery at the far end of the museum hosts exhibitions that change every couple of months so there’s always something new to see.
The Old House in High Town is a well-preserved 17th century timber-framed building. Built in 1621, it was once the shop and dwelling of a butcher and has been a museum and a Hereford landmark since 1929, containing every kind of artefact needed for daily living in Jacobean times.
Hereford Cider Museum has a collection of over 25,000 items, dating from the mid 1700s and tells the history of cider and perry production. The King Offa Distillery is a working exhibit, which distils cider to make delicious cider brandy.
When it was opened in 1856, the Broomy Hill Waterworks supplied the city of Hereford with water, the engine pumping many thousands of gallons every day. Now a museum, the Waterworks Museum has, amongst its exhibits, the UK’s oldest triple-expansion steam engine.
A city museum open by pre-booked request, the Coningsby Hospital Museum and Chapel is located in Widemarsh Street. The part-13th century site was once occupied by a house of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem – Sir Thomas Coningsby of Hampton Court, Hereford, having founded the almshouse in 1614 as a refuge for soldiers and mariners. The old dining hall serves as a medieval museum and the Chapel is still used as a place of worship. Nell Gwynne is credited with having persuaded Charles II to found the Chelsea Hospital after the fashion of Coningsby Hospital.
Adjacent to the museum, the ruins of the Black Friars Monastery date to 1276. The refectory and the Priors House remain and are circa 1322. Additions made in the 17th century by Sir Thomas Coningsby of Hampton Court, Hereford, were converted into a residence and the ruins were restored during in the 1960s.
The 14th century decorated gothic Preaching Cross, erected by the Friars in the cemetery, is the only remaining example in the country.
In the past, the River Wye has played a vital part in the city’s defences but today it offers a more enjoyable and leisurely distraction. Looking onto the river is the Castle Green, one of Hereford’s finest green areas. Sited where Hereford Castle once stood, it’s a peaceful recreational area containing a bowling green, mature trees and park benches. It also has its very own Nelson Monument.
The column was put here in 1809 as Admiral Nelson was made a Freeman of the City of Hereford, having visited Herefordshire on a number of occasions. Cannons were added at the base of the column in 2005 to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
The Castle Pool was part of the 11th century motte and bailey castle moat. Although there’s no longer a castle here, its layout with 20-foot high north and east ramparts can still be seen. The moat is a scheduled ancient monument and today forms an attractive duck pond.
Victoria Bridge, built in 1898, is an ornamental suspension bridge, with steel towers and wrought iron latticework and opened to honour the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria the previous year.
The Bishop’s Meadow, on the opposite side of the river is another popular open space with recreation facilities that include hard tennis courts and a putting green.
The ancient Wye Bridge, with its five piers and six spans, dates to 1490. It was partly rebuilt in the 17th century after an invasion attempt on the City and the gatehouse was demolished in 1782.
On the other side of the city is Churchill Gardens, a large park with spectacular views over Hereford as well as to the Welsh borderlands. This is an unspoilt and usually quiet area with benches dotted about the gardens making it an ideal spot for picnickers. The fragrant garden here contains plants known for their aromatic traits and the mini arboretum is a popular place for casual strollers as well as dog walkers. There’s a car park nearby at Venns Lane. Enjoy your stay in Hereford with our Hereford Accommodation selection.
Reccommended towns and villages near Hereford;
Dorstone > Hampton Bishop > Kilpeck > Ross-on-Wye > Leominster
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