A Day Here in Hereford

Last summer, twelve students and one professor shared an unforgettable experience called English Gothic Live, a course on medieval and medievalist architecture which we studied on site while based at the University of Warwick. One of the course requirements was for each student to write a blog entry, and we will be posting all of those here over the coming weeks.

Were you planning on visit Hereford Cathedral? Or did you just want to learn more about this grand monument? Good news then, as in this blog I’ll be sharing what I experienced and learned during my visit there as well as suggesting a good way to experience the cathedral for yourself. Before we get started though, there is one very important thing you should know: how to properly pronounce Hereford. Despite the spelling and the title of this blog, it is not pronounced Here-ford but rather Hair-uh-ferd. Remember that as you continue reading and when you visit the site for yourself.

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A lot of what can be seen of the original building dates back to the late 12th and early 13th centuries where it underwent major renovations from a Norman style to a more Early Gothic one. Today, it is quite hard to miss the monolith with its large, bulky form and tall, square tower that dominates the surrounding area. And so I do suggest you start your visit to Hereford Cathedral by walking around the exterior to really get a sense of just how expansive it is in both height and area. Take note, as well as some photos, of the tall, central tower and also the large, decorated windows that cover the walls, and when you’re ready, head through the north entrance and into the building.

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Look up and you’ll be greeted with a beautiful vault that sits high atop a well decorated, three-part elevation and stretches across the extensive nave. Once you’ve picked your jaw off the floor and your finger off the camera trigger, take a gander around the rest of the central space. Moving into the choir area, you’ll notice a shift in style as well as detail as the building and its ornamentation becomes much more grand and rich. I do recommend as well taking a tower tour of the cathedral to get a great view of these spaces from above. With it, you’ll also gain access to the cathedral’s ringing chamber, to atop the aforementioned nave, as well as to a breathtaking view of the city.

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After all that stair climbing you may want to stop for lunch, and why not do so within the cathedral itself? Buy some tea and a sandwich from the Cafe Mundi and enjoy it within the chapter house garden, perhaps with some live music too, if you are lucky. You may also notice nearby some exhibits that I also do recommend taking a look at. Featured are interesting pieces of history with the Mappa Mundi and The Chained Library. These reflect historic usage of and attitudes toward the world and books. And finally, to top off any good visit, you should check out the gift shop or perhaps even one of the local shops to pick up a souvenir, whether it be some postcards or some local cheese (Little Hereford) or some local beer (Bulmers Original).

Enjoy!

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