Fodor's Expert Review Hereford Cathedral

Hereford Religious Building/Site/Shrine
Free Fodor's Choice

Built of local red sandstone, Hereford Cathedral is a treasure trove of historical artifacts, including Mappa Mundi, the largest medieval map in the world; the largest chained library to survive with its locks and chains intact; and many fine 11th-century Norman carvings. The cathedral retains a large central tower, and most of the interior is 19th century. Nevertheless, there are some exquisite contemporary stained-glass windows in the Audley Chapel and a 12th-century chair that is one of the oldest pieces of furniture in the country and was reputedly used by King Stephen (1092–1154). The Mappa Mundi is undoubtedly the biggest draw here. Drawn in about 1300, it’s a fascinating glimpse of how the medieval mind viewed the world: Jerusalem is shown dead center, the Garden of Eden at the edge, Europe and Africa are the wrong way round—and, of course, there are no Americas. In addition to land masses, the map details 500 individual drawings, including cities, Biblical stories, mythical... READ MORE

Built of local red sandstone, Hereford Cathedral is a treasure trove of historical artifacts, including Mappa Mundi, the largest medieval map in the world; the largest chained library to survive with its locks and chains intact; and many fine 11th-century Norman carvings. The cathedral retains a large central tower, and most of the interior is 19th century. Nevertheless, there are some exquisite contemporary stained-glass windows in the Audley Chapel and a 12th-century chair that is one of the oldest pieces of furniture in the country and was reputedly used by King Stephen (1092–1154). The Mappa Mundi is undoubtedly the biggest draw here. Drawn in about 1300, it’s a fascinating glimpse of how the medieval mind viewed the world: Jerusalem is shown dead center, the Garden of Eden at the edge, Europe and Africa are the wrong way round—and, of course, there are no Americas. In addition to land masses, the map details 500 individual drawings, including cities, Biblical stories, mythical creatures, and images of how people in different corners of the globe were thought to look—the last two frequently overlapping in wildly imaginative fashion. The map is held inside the chained library, containing some 1,500 books, among them an 8th-century copy of the Four Gospels. Chained libraries, in which books were attached to cupboards to discourage theft, are extremely rare: they date from medieval times, when books were as precious as gold. The cathedral also holds a copy of the 1217 revision of the Magna Carta; it’s not on permanent display, but is sometimes brought out for temporary exhibits. Tours of the cathedral (without the library) and the tower run on set days throughout the year. Garden tours run in summer.

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Religious Building/Site/Shrine Free Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

Cathedral Close
Hereford, Herefordshire  HR1 2NG, England

01432-374200

www.herefordcathedral.org

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Cathedral free (suggested dontation £5); Mappa Mundi and chained library exhibition £6; cathedral tours £4; tower tours £4; garden tours £5, Mappa Mundi and chained library exhibition £6; all tours £5, Mappa Mundi and chained library closed Sun.

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