One of the things I had planned to do on my trip to Hay was take some time out on the way home to see more of Hereford. It is a lovely little city with a whole heap of history. In particular, it has one of the best Cathedrals in the country. But to start with I’d like to put in a recommendation for the place where I stayed: No. 21. Here are some photos.
It was very comfortable, the staff were very friendly, the breakfast was good, and it was cheap. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Meanwhile, out in the city, there is plenty of olde Englande stuff to keep the tourist happy. The bull is, of course, nothing to do with stock markets, and everything to do with Hereford’s most famous product.
Finally we get to the cathedral itself, which is quite spectacular regardless of what it contains. If you are there in the summer, try to make it at lunch time on a Tuesday as they have a weekly series of organ recitals. Sadly I could not stay, but I caught some of the rehearsals which were amazing.
The building, however, pales into insignificance compared to what it contains. First up, there is the Mappa Mundi, the largest mediaeval map in existence.
Alongside the map itself there was an exhibition of art inspired by the map. Grayson Perry was the best known artist featured, but I preferred the work of Genevieve Belgard who picked up on some of the fabulous creatures shown inhabiting remote parts of the world. All of these creatures are, of course, featured in Cat Valente’s Prester John trilogy.
Alongside the map, the cathedral has a surviving mediaeval chained library, a relic of times when books were so valuable that you had to chain them up to make sure no one stole them. The library has 16th century copies of works by famous classical authors as well as religious texts. The exhibition is also an excuse to talk about how mediaeval books were made.