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Happier in Hereford


August 18, 2016: Hereford was an improvement on Gloucester, although I still preferred Worcester. The train station was far enough out that I took a bus to the cathedral, and I certainly got plenty of exercise in town. Again, I had a personal tour of the cathedral, this time with an elderly lady. My first impression of the cathedral was that it was a good bit smaller than the other two, and this was confirmed by my guide. She regretted, several times, that the space was not really big enough for the Three Choirs Festival and especially, the loss of the westernmost bay, where the tower had collapsed in 1786 (ironically on Easter Monday) and not been replaced. Much of the cathedral had been rebuilt in Victorian times, and most of the stained glass was also Victorian.

However, an unusual, and rather beautiful, golden crown hovered over the main altar, there were Norman arches and even a few repurposed Roman columns, and some misericords, which I always enjoy. But the cathedral’s real claims to fame are the Mappa Mundi and the chained library. I had seen several reproductions of the 14th century map of the world in books on early cartography, and really you would need a magnifying glass to see the details on the real one. A medieval mindset, for which Jerusalem was the unquestioned center of the world, and therefore the center of the map, would also help. The UK was squashed in down at the bottom left.
I’m afraid I was disappointed with the chained library. The books were certainly chained, and there were certainly a lot of them, but they were housed in a new, purpose built room. Perhaps I would have found the display more interesting had I not so recently seen chained books, and had the system explained to me, in the Bodleian.


After lunch I visited the Cider Museum. As a student in England I drank a lot of cider, and I have visited quite a few vineyards, but this was the first time I had seen a cider production facility. Originally, farmers made their own, as some probably still do, and the early wooden cider presses were on display, along the with the horn tumblers used for drinking it. So were a number of pieces of beautiful early glass. I spent long enough reading labels and watching videos that I didn’t make it back into town in time to visit Hereford’s other tourist site, the Old House, but I was able to take pictures of the outside.

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