Hereford, the County Town of Herefordshire is a must-see for anyone visiting the County.
Hereford is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England
It lies on the River Wye, approximately 16 miles (26 km) east of the border with Wales, 24 miles (39 km) southwest of Worcester, and 23 miles (37 km) northwest of Gloucester. With a population of 58,900 people, it is the largest settlement in the county.
The name “Hereford” is said to come from the Anglo Saxon “here”, an army or formation of soldiers, and the “ford”, a place for crossing a river. If this is the origin it suggests that Hereford was a place where a body of armed men forded or crossed the Wye. The Welsh name for Hereford is Henffordd, meaning “old road”, and probably refers to the Roman road and Roman settlement at nearby Stretton Sugwas.
An early town charter from 1189 granted by Richard I of England describes it as “Hereford in Wales”. Hereford has been recognised as a city since time immemorial, with the status being reconfirmed as recently as October 2000.
It is now known chiefly as a trading centre for a wider agricultural and rural area. Products from Hereford include: cider, beer, leather goods, nickel alloys, poultry, chemicals, and cattle, including the famous Hereford breed.
Hereford became the seat of Putta, Bishop of Hereford, some time between AD 676 and 688, after which the settlement continued to grow due to its proximity to the border between Mercia and Wales, becoming the Saxon capital of West Mercia by the beginning of the 8th century.
Hostilities between the Anglo-Saxons and the Welsh came to a head with the Battle of Hereford in 760, in which the Britons freed themselves from the influence of the English. Hereford was again targeted by the Welsh during their conflict with the Anglo-Saxon King Edward the Confessor in AD 1056 when, supported by Viking allies, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, King of Gwynedd and Powys, marched on the town and put it to the torch before returning home in triumph.
The present Hereford Cathedral dates from the 12th century. Former Bishops of Hereford include Saint Thomas de Cantilupe and Lord High Treasurer of England Thomas Charlton.
The city gave its name to two suburbs of Paris, France: Maisons-Alfort (population 54,600) and Alfortville (population 36,232), due to a manor built there by Peter of Aigueblanche, Bishop of Hereford, in the middle of the 13th century.
Hereford, a base for successive holders of the title Earl of Hereford, was once the site of a castle, Hereford Castle, which rivalled that of Windsor in size and scale. This was a base for repelling Welsh attacks and a secure stronghold for English kings such as King Henry IV when on campaign in the Welsh Marches against Owain Glyndŵr. The castle was dismantled in the 18th century and landscaped into Castle Green.
After the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross in 1461, during the Wars of the Roses, the defeated Lancastrian leader Owen Tudor (grandfather of the future Henry VII of England) was taken to Hereford by Sir Roger Vaughan and executed in High Town. A plaque now marks the spot of the execution. Vaughan was later himself executed, under a flag of truce, by Owen’s son Jasper.
The Old House, High Town is well worth a visit. This timber-framed Jacobean building, built in 1621, is now a museum.
During the civil war the city changed hands several times. On 30 September 1642 Parliamentarians led by Sir Robert Harley and Henry Grey, 1st Earl of Stamford occupied the city without opposition. In December they withdrew to Gloucester because of the presence in the area of a Royalist army under Lord Herbert. The city was again occupied briefly from 23 April to 18 May 1643 by Parliamentarians commanded by Sir William Waller but it was in 1645 that the city saw most action. On 31 July 1645 a Scottish army of 14,000 under Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven besieged the city but met stiff resistance from its garrison and inhabitants. They withdrew on 1 September when they received news that a force led by King Charles was approaching. The city was finally taken for Parliament on 18 December 1645 by Colonel Birch and Colonel Morgan. King Charles showed his gratitude to the city of Hereford on 16 September 1645 by augmenting the city’s coat of arms with the three lions of Richard I of England, ten Scottish Saltires signifying the ten defeated Scottish regiments, a very rare lion crest on top of the coat of arms signifying “defender of the faith” and the even rarer gold-barred peer’s helm, found only on the arms of one other municipal authority: those of the City of London.
Nell Gwynne, actress and mistress of King Charles II, is said to have been born in Hereford in 1650 (although other towns and cities, notably Oxford, also claim her as their own); Gwynn Street is named after her. Another famous actor born in Hereford is David Garrick (1717–1779).
The Bishop’s Palace next to the Cathedral was built in 1204 and continually used to the present day. Hereford Cathedral School is also one of the oldest schools in England.
Tourism and attractions:
Hereford Cathedral is home to the Hereford Mappa Mundi, a map of the known world from the late 13th century.
The Old House, Hereford is an historic black and white house in the centre of High Town in Hereford City. It is now a museum about life in the Jacobean era of the 1600s when it was built.
The Hereford Museum and Art Gallery, housed in a Victorian Gothic building and opened in 1874, presents artefacts, fine art, and decorative art associated with the local area.
The Hereford Cider Museum is located in the City, with a shop and a fully interactive guide to how to produce the drink. H C.Mus. is a reg Charity Trust founded in the early 1970s by people who wanted to record the past and rapidly disappearing traditional art of cider making as had been done for generations on the farms in the “Cider Counties”. Situated in an old cider factory, it opened in 1980 and 1981. Annually it holds a large display of named cider apples, during the cider festival, when the apples are pressed in the old way. In the spring/summer there is the International Cider festival, started in the mid-1980s, by the Friends of the Museum with the advice of Long Ashton Research station Nr Bristol (sadly no longer in existence). The Museum also holds in its recent Pomological Archive, a number of records pertaining to apples and cider.
Hereford Cathedral dates from 1079 and contains the Mappa Mundi, a medieval map of the world dating from the 13th century which was restored in the late 20th century. It also contains the world famous Chained Library.
Holme Lacy House is now a hotel for a major national chain was built by John Scudamore in the 1500s. It has played host to many famous historical figures in its time.
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