Friday, 17 April 2015


The weather is still bright and sunny and although a little bit cooler is still 16-17⁰C and pretty much ideal for getting out and about.

The medieval bridge over the River Wye in Hereford
On Wednesday we decided to have a tourist day and went off to Hereford, just 16 miles away from where we are staying. It’s a cathedral city which used to be a walled city, being in its old strategic position on the River Wye at the border with Wales. Although England and Wales are now one big happy family (!?!), it used to be a major border between the Welsh Celts and English Anglo Saxons and Hereford was right in the ‘firing line’, hence its old fortifications, which are sadly now all but gone.

Hereford Cathedral with its Norman tower
It is, however, a splendid city with many of its old Norman and Medieval structures still (partly) standing, but most interesting of all is the Mappa Mundi and one of four original Magna Cartas on display.

The original Mappa Mundi in its dimly lit cabinet
The Mappa Mundi is a map of the world as it was then known, drawn in 1286AD on a single sheet of vellum measuring 64” x 52” and reflects the thinking of the medieval church with Jerusalem at the centre of the world. The British Isles is drawn in the bottom left hand corner in a shape we wouldn’t recognise, China is top left, India at the top, the Red Sea top right, Africa bottom right. Sorry American continent, Australia and New Zealand, you hadn’t been ‘invented’ then! Most fascinating is that until 1997 it had no special treatment and was just hanging somewhere in the cathedral. Due to shortage of cash Hereford Council were proposing to sell it, but donors managed to stop the sale and keep it in the place where it was originally created. It is the oldest complete medieval religious  map in existence and although it is believed much of it was copied from an earlier map drawn in Lincoln, that map no longer exists.

A copy of the Mappa Mundi with English translations
In the same building is exhibited one of four original Magna Cartas in existence, originally created to try to limit the powers of King John, but re-issued by his son, Henry III in 1217. It represents the nearest the UK has to a constitution and much of it has been used as the basis of democratic constitutions around the world including the American constitution. It’s a small document written in a shorthand Latin language and we understood nothing looking at it, but of course it has been translated many times for easier understanding. Apparently, last year it was loaned to the USA to display in a museum there, with people flocking to see it and paying $20 a person (our entrance fee for both the Mappa Mundi, the Magna Carta and the ‘chained library’ containing many ancient books was £6 each!) The lady there told us that it was sent to the US by normal transport in no special packaging in order to not attract attention to any prospective thieves!

And this is the bit in the bottom left hand corner showing England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
An original Magna Carta
Plenty of other old buildings including the ‘Old House’, which is a black and white half-timbered house in the market square built in 1621, now a free museum. It stands at a peculiar angle in the square, in its original place, but it was moved while building took place around it and then moved back!

Museum, gallery, old church, old medieval bridge over the River Wye and great old city views, it’s all here! We had a great day.

Today we walked over May Hill which is the hill with the little thicket of trees on the summit we’ve been looking at for the last two weeks from the conservatory window in the house we’re staying. The thicket of trees standing in a clearing atop a prominent hill of 296m was planted in 1977 to celebrate the Queens Silver Jubilee year. Standing alongside the views are expansive and, to the south a grand view of the River Severn meandering across the plain through hills towards the sea with few buildings in view, it could be anywhere. The Butcombe real ale in the afternoon sunshine in the beer garden of the Glasshouse pub at the bottom afterwards was an added bonus!
The chained library (didn't realise until after I'd taken this that photos were not allowed!)

Hereford Market Square.We have outdoor dining in England!

The 'Old House' museum in the market square

The thicket of trees on top of May Hill as seen from our conservatory window
Approaching the thicket of trees with (just visible) the Trig Point summit marker in front
The plaque commemorating the tree planting in 1977
View from the summit. The River Severn meanders through the plain towards the sea

Jackie finds some friends!

Approaching the Glasshouse pub, flying the English flag (Flag of St George). The hedge trimmed into the shape of a house on the opposite side of the road we found quite amusing

1 comment:

  1. I love Hereford. My memories from childhood are: singing with lots of choirs in the cathedral and playing county hockey! ( yes it's been a while!) x