We stayed in Hereford for the first few days of our holiday, sat in a great location between Worcester and the Welsh Border so there were plenty of opportunities for trips out from the city…
Status: Herefordshire Unitary County, City, England
Eating & Sleeping: Premier Inn – Holmer Road, Greggs, Pizza Express, Starting Gate Beafeater Grill, Hereford Cathedral Cafe, Tesco
Attractions: Hereford Cathedral, City Walls, Bull Statue, River Wye, Wye Bridge, Bishop’s Palace, Edward Elgar Statue, Information Plaques, Town Hall, Old House Museum, Museum and Art Gallery, Cider Museum, Mappa Mundi, Market Hall etc
On the first day when we arrived we went into the city, late on in the afternoon. There weren’t many people about by this time but we had a little explore to get our bearings, then the next morning we went in again and thoroughly explored the city.
The Town Hall is a grand building on the outskirts of the pedestrianised section of the city centre, and also one of the most detailed buildings in the city. It was officially opened in 1904, and is finished with a lovely oak interior. The Town Hall is a new building, as there was a previous one in the city that was demolished in 1862, and also doubled as the market hall. To construct the new one, three houses were gifted to the council so they could be demolished and a Town Hall built in their place. The council also purchased an adjoining properly and began to build.
We walked past the Town Hall and into the pedestrianised section. The market was in full swing and stalls lined the street on both sides. The tall, thin stone building you can see down the right hand side between the white buildings is the Market Hall, and is a beautiful Grade II Listed Building from around 1860.
The spire in the background is that of All Saints Church of England Church. Although it’s not the first church on the site, today’s structure dates from around 1330. In 1997 a major restoration period was undertaken to help secure the church for the future, and included work on the main building and the spire.
The market square was very relaxing and we stopped to just sit and enjoy it for a while when we had lunch.
Looking the other way up the pedestrianised street/market square is the Old House Museum, with the Herefordshire Bull statue outside (on the left of the picture). It is an exact replica of the bull that is found locally in the county, and in real life it is brown and white. The Old House is was built in 1621 and since 1929 it has been a popular museum in the city. It represents a good example of Jacobean life, and since 1816 it is the sole survivor of the row of houses that once stood there. It is a beautiful building and I really wish there were more left in the UK, they are just fantastic. We didn’t have time to go into the museum but if it looks this good from the outside then inside it must be awesome.
Hang on, this statue we found looks familiar? Ah that’s it, it’s Edward Elgar again! Since seeing him in Worcester a few days earlier, he seems to have pedalled to Hereford to repose for us. This statue is one of at least three in the two counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, with the other two in Worcestershire in Malvern and Worcester itself.
He lived in Hereford until 1911. This statue is sat in the grounds of the cathedral, near the back left edge.
It is of a similar design to the Cathedral we saw in Worcester, and it looks fantastic. I managed to get a good shot of the sun shining over the stonework and it gave it a nice orangey-brown glow. It is full of history, as Hereford is close to the Welsh Border and there were many skirmishes with the Welsh, who burnt down the Cathedral (built 200 years earlier) in 1056, and it lay in ruin until 1079 when it was rebuilt.
Contained within the Cathedral walls is the Mappa Mundi, an ancient map of the world drawn on animal skin, from around 1300. The design is very complex and has to be interpreted to show the different areas of the world but an expert was on hand to talk us through it when we visited it.
Cathedral Tower Tour
Inside the tour there are regular tours available that go up the main tower. These last around an hour, and they are so worth it! We started in the main section of the Cathedral and went up a spiral staircase into the arched roof sections, which are clad in stone and held up with large wooden beams. Then you get to the rectangular section half way up to the tower itself, and you can see down into the rest of the Cathedral, and it looks magnificent. We walked around the whole section and got a full view of every side of the building.
Following that we were taken in to the bell ringing room, which has a trapdoor to lower down damaged bells to the Cathedral floor far below. The bell pulls were also in there and were told how they worked. On the wall was a clockwork mechanism that operated the clock, and the tours are timed to arrive in this section on the hour so that you can see it working, and we arrived at 1 pm and saw it whirring and spinning. From there we saw some more roof sections before making the final push up to the roof, for a full 360 view over the city, including across to Shropshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and the Welsh Hills. It was a stunning view. When we got down we even got a certificate to say we had made it to the top. Above is just one of the views we were treated too, and looks over to the River Wye and the Wye Bridge with the Bishop’s Palace directly below us next to the Cathedral on this side of the river.
The Bishops Palace is the home of the bishop, and the most recent bishop is Anthony Priddis, who is the 104th bishop. It is a beautiful building and sat right next to the Cathedral, which is obviously very convenient for the bishop.
After the Cathedral we cut through to the river, and over the Wye Bridge, which is a one lane road bridge, with traffic alternating with traffic lights going each way. It was rebuilt in 1490, and the original bridges over the Wye would have been timber. One of my favourite views is to take a photograph with an old bridge looking over a side of it towards a grand building like a clock tower or a Cathedral.
Heading back over the bridge towards the town centre, we passed the main Museum and Art Gallery, opened in 1874. It contains various artefacts, plus a few galleries. It is opposite the Cathedral, and the Tourist Information Centre is on the road further down heading left. It also contains artwork to do with the local area itself.
Hereford isn’t too far from Worcester and the M5 Motorway (for Birmingham, Exeter and the M6 towards Scotland) and has good rail connections into Wales and the Midlands. The nearest airports are Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff.
It’s a beautiful city, in a great rural location, nearly on its own, which allows for great scenery all around it. There is a surviving wall of the town walls next to the main Tesco store, and there are more bridges down the river with a monument to Nelson in a field next to the river, in the form a large column.
Hereford is a perfect place for a weekend away, so next time you are wondering what to do, think Hereford.