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Hereford b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation

Hereford in Herefordshire

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Visit Hereford and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:

Hereford, Herefordshire, is situated on a level plain bounded in the distance by low-lying hills. The southern area of the town is edged by the River Wye which flows under a medieval bridge, to the West of which is a modern span of concrete and steel carrying the new ring road over the river from its route along the line of the medieval city wall. Hereford is a cathedral city, albeit of modest size, and also an important agricultural centre. It has a bustling cattle market where farmers from either side of the border mingle. Hereford's history is closely bound up with Wales. Great changes are taking place in the city at present, with much modern development.

The Cathedral Church dedicated in honour of SS. Mary and Ethelbert is likely to be the first monument to arouse the visitor's interest as he comes down Broad Street. That there was an ancient Celtic bishopric here before the arrival of St Augustine in England seems very likely. The cathedral owes its foundation to King Offa of Mercia, who built the famous dyke that runs 6 miles to the West of the city and defined and defended English territory. Offa was responsible for the beheading of Ethelbert, King of East Anglia. In expiation he built a costly shrine to receive the body of the martyred king. In 825 a new stone church was built over the shrine and in 1030 this was replaced by a still larger church which was destroyed by Welsh marauders in 1056. The cathedral was probably begun by the Norman Bishop Robert Losinga in 1079, although documentary evidence credits Bishop Reynelm with founding the present church.

Besides the massive red sandstone tower built between 1300 and 1310 (the pinnacles were only added in the last century), the cathedral is notable for the superb Norman work which has survived in the great pillars of the nave arcade. What is seen today, however, is only a part of what the Norman builders achieved. In 1786 their lofty west tower collapsed and destroyed two bays of the nave and the greater part of the original triforium and clerestory. The efforts of famous architects throughout the last 200 years to try to restore the balance of the building have not always been successful. To the rest of the varied architecture, every age has added something of value. The beautiful Lady Chapel is Early English in style. It possesses some of the oldest stained glass in the cathedral. To the south is a screen dividing it from Bishop Audley's magnificent two-storied chantry, with its stair-turret. The three original chantry chapel doors are particularly fine. The north transept is perhaps the most rewarding part of the cathedral. It was planned by Bishop Aquablanca in the reign of Henry III. He was the friend of Peter of Savoy who built the palace of that name in London. The bishop is buried here in a tomb which is a worthy tribute to his sensitivity and taste. The work is Early English at its purest, with tall slender windows rising to the full height of the transept. It was probably built about the mid-l3th century as Aquablanca died in 1268. The work was completed by St Thomas Cantilupe who died in 1282 and was canonized in 1320. The rich pedestal of his shrine is still here, arcaded with Purbeck shafts and guarded by 15 carved effigies of Knights Templar, of whose order Bishop Cantilupe was Grand Master. In the south transept is a fine German l6th-century triptych of the Adoration of the Magi. Most unusual here is the ancient fire-place; one of only two of its kind to survive in England. Another rare treasure is the ancient Mappa Mundi; a map of a flat world, drawn and painted by a prebendary of Hereford, Richard of Haldingham, probably at Lincoln in 1275. Measuring 65 inches by 53 inches it includes considerable, if curious detail. Jerusalem is shown as the centre of the world and England and Ireland on the very outside edge. Above the east aisle is the biggest chained library in the world. it consists of some 1,500 books, both printed and handwritten. Its most ancient treasure is a 7th-century commentary on the Gospel of St Matthew; the early centuries are spanned by a most unusual collection. Seventy printed books date from before 1500, including two by Caxton.

Much of the exterior of Hereford Cathedral has suffered from the ravages of time, battle and restorers. In the mid-l9th century there was a general restoration by Sir (3. Gilbert Scott whose work generally replaced the rebuilding undertaken by James Wyatt after the disaster of 1786. Wyatt's west front was rebuilt to Oldrid Scott's plans between 1904 and 1908.

The Bishop's Palace stands on the south side of the cathedral overlooking the river. It presents a fine Georgian fašade which conceals a Norman hail with wooden columns and arcades. It was well restored in 1954. The Vicars College can be reached through a door in the south-east transept. It is connected to the cathedral by an oak-roofed gallery dating from the 15th century.

Hardly less important in Hereford's history is the 14th-century Church of All Saints. Most of the present church was built in the early 14th century and by the beginning of the 16th century it was more or less as it is seen today. An earlier church had close connections with Vienne, near Lyons. It was a Commanderie hospice of the Order of St Anthony the Hermit which was absorbed into the Order of St John of Jerusalem during the Crusades. In the south chapel is yet another chained library of considerable importance. It possesses a copy of a book on the seven Deadly Sins by an Englishman, Alexander Carpenter, but printed in Paris by Pierre Levet in 1497. The choir stalls are 14th-century and have misericords that include two mermaids, two mice and two bears. David Garrick was baptized here in 1717.

In the centre of the town stands an attractive timber-framed house which was built in 1621 and is known as the Old House. It houses an excellent collection of 17th-century furniture.

In Gwynne Street, earlier known as Pipe Lane, down towards the river, is a tablet recording the site of the house where Nell Gwynn was born. Charles II made her son Duke of St Albans and his son became Bishop of Hereford. North of the junction of High Street and High Town is Wide-marsh Street, at the end of which stands the Coningsby Hospital founded in 1614. It retains parts of the 13th- and 14th-century Templar house of the Knights of St John. Just behind is the only surviving friars' preaching cross in England, a reminder that adjoining was a “Blackfriars” built in 1322 in spite of the opposition of the cathedral chapter to the coming of the Dominicans. One of the most pleasant places to stroll is Castle Green with its almost 30-ft-high ramparts, once the bailey of the castle. The Nelson Column on the Green reminds the visitor that Lord Nelson was a freeman of the City of Hereford.

Some 2+ miles South East of the city is Dinedor Hill with splendid views across the Forest of Dean. Its summit, sheltered by beeches, is said to have been the camp of the Roman general Ostorius Scapula when attacking the forces of Caractacus.

Much Dewchurch, 6 miles South SouthWest. of the city on the B4348 linking the A465 and A49, is a charming old village with a timbered inn. The church, which has a Norman chancel arch, contains memorials to the Pye family who defended Kilpeck Castle during the Civil War. Lugwardine is another typical little Herefordshire village just 2 miles East of Hereford on the A438. The ending -wardine is also typical of the county. In Anglo-Saxon days it referred to an enclosed farmstead, like the names ending in -worth, of which it is a variant. Just above the banks of the River Lugg, which is crossed by two ancient bridges, one of them 14th-century or older, it has the usual trim black-and-white cottages far removed from the rather drab newer building at the other end of the village. The red-sandstone church appears to have had Norman origins though the tower is good 14th-century. Its 17th-century monuments and brasses are interesting. There are two good country houses in the area. Longworth House about 1¼ mile to the South East was built in 1788 by Anthony Keck. Almost opposite is New Court, an interesting Georgian house, much Gothicized with castellations and turrets at the beginning of the 19th century Its Georgian integrity is preserved inside where there is a fine rococo plaster ceiling completed in the early 1750s.

Nearby towns: Abergavenny, Bromyard, Hay-on-Wye, Kington, Ledbury, Leominster, Monmouth, Ross-on-wye

Nearby villages: Abbey Dore, Aconbury, Allensmore, Bodenham, Bullingham, Burghill, Byford, Callow, Checkley, Clyro, Credenhill, Dinmore, Eaton Bishop, Ewyas Harold, Fownhope, Foy, Golden Valley, Grosmont, Hampton Bishop, Hoarwithy, Holme Lacy, Kilpeck, Kings Pyon, Kingstone, Little Cowarne, Little Dewchurch, Llanthony, Lower Bullingham, Lugwardine, Madley, Mansel Gamage, Moorhampton, Mordiford, Moreton on Lugg, Much Birch, Much Dewchurch, Norton Canon, Nunnington, Ocle Pychard, Preston on Wye, Preston Wynne, Raglan, Stoke Edith, Sutton, Tillington, Tyberton, Ullingswick, Wellington, Weobley, Westhide, Woolhope, Yazor

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