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Hereford Cathedral Visit

Ø June 20 #Hereford (Thursday)

Awake before the alarm, I was still trying to resolve my next lodgings via email, as well as handle some issues with “the book” as I prepared to leave. Checking out, I found out the concert would be with Pink, so I felt blessed to be moving on. Easily to Cardiff Central, I boarded the 8:50 GWR train bound for Hereford. As I sat for the hour-long ride, I journaled, reflecting on my two days in Wales. Perhaps because the weather hadn’t been great, my impression of the cities in Wales was negative. However, once I got out into the countryside, the place is fabulous.

Hereford was to be a bump-and-run day trip stop. I’d arranged with a holding service to keep my bag for the day, so finding the Butter Market was my first challenge. Google Maps of course took me in the back, most convoluted way, but I eventually met up with a young man with two side-by-side booths in the covered market. Once he finished booking a trip for another customer, he switched hats to the Rural Concierge and took my bag and gave me easy and clear directions to the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin and St Ethelbert the King.

Hereford Cathedral from the green

Coming to the green, I snapped a photo of the cathedral through tree with a statue of a cyclist looking at the tower: Sir #EdwardElgar! The building’s major feature of a large square tower at the crossing stood out over the cathedral green. No floor tours were scheduled (albeit online indicated 11:05); however, I was able to sign up for the tower tour.

Memorials line Hereford Cathedral's aisles

The church is well lit, bright, polished, welcoming and warm. It quickly became my favorite English cathedral. In the north transept was the reconstruction of the pilgrimage shrine of St Thomas of Hereford. The nave vault is stunning with red-on-gold stenciling, large ornate bosses and painted arches. Tucked to the side of the nave was an elaborately carved wooden seating for five that turned out to be an older cathedra. The misericords showed it was from before the clergy earned real seats. The ambulatory was filled with memorial tombs and monuments, as well as displays of historic items. The Lady Chapel in the apse had a splendid five-panel altarpiece below complex blue-and-red stained-glass windows.

Down in the crypt, an older altarpiece backed onto an outer wall, while old statues of revered saints were placed beside columns. The current three-seat cathedra, probably Victorian, has a tall dark wooden spire, and sits in the quire next to the choir stalls. The high altar is placed in front of a rounded arch, with the elegant Gothic arches of the Lady Chapel behind the intricately carved gilded reredos. The choir organ had lovingly etched blue pipes that contributes to the glory of the space.

At 11:30, I was the only one who had booked, so I had a personal tower tour, which turned out to be really great. About 75 minutes long, we started by looking at the space between the vault ceiling and the roof, where I was pleased to note drains. The joints in this space were all wooden pegs. Once reaching the tower itself, there were openings down to the floor, allowing me to get great shots of the nave and altar, the crossing, and also the base of the tower platform floor.

Quire, high altar and organ pipes from tower gallery

We got to the bell ringers’ room, a set of ten bells, of which 7 were for a peal, and the other three associated with the great mechanical clock to strike the time. Well timed, the tour had us in the room to watch the works strike noon.

Onward and upward we climbed, achieving the roof of the tower and its four small carved stone spires, with a walkway along the walls which allowed great vistas. The weather had improved from my time in Wales, and blue skies kept trying to break through the clouds. The surrounding countryside was relatively flat, with the horizon out about 20 miles.

View from Hereford Cathedral tower

Descending, we spent some more time looking at the structural elements of the roof, and I got a few more pictures into the crossing. My last shots on the tour were of the gallery, with a store of recovered pieces from repairs that continue to be made to this splendid edifice.

Coupled with my earlier pictures taken while walking the cathedral floor, and those after the tour, I visited the library and went to view the #MappaMundi and the #ChainedLibrary. Parting, I briefly walked the covered archway around the garden edged cloister. Its ceiling was wood, and had some different takes on view. My only shot of the copy of this vellum map is too blurry to post.

Cloister door into Hereford Cathedral

Back into the commercial world, I walked down streets heading towards the Butter Market. Remarking on my need to get another SD chip for my camera, as the new chip I’d installed the day before said it was full, my baggage guardian directed out of the market and around a corner. The photo shop wasn’t busy, so I asked them to check the chip, which should have been empty. Well, it had 14 gigabytes of pictures from my 2013 bike ride in southwest France. Not needing them, they deleted them per my request, and sold me a spare 32GB chip for when it really did get filled. I collect my bag after snagging a small piece of a very aged sharp Cheddar from the cheese monger, and headed more directly to the station.

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Anne DiFrancesco
Anne DiFrancesco
Aug 25, 2019

Good idea! I welcome the new format. It gives more order to the summaries and now I instantly see your comments in the photos.

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