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Bradshaw’s Guide

Cathedral and Wye bridge, Hereford, England. Taken between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. Original: Library of Congress


Hereford, the capital of Herefordshire, and a parliamentary borough, on the Shrewsbury and Hereford, Newport, Abergavenny, and Hereford, and Hereford, Ross, and Gloucester lines. By rail, via Gloucester, the distance from London is 144¼ miles, but the direct distance by road is only 134, or 33 beyond Gloucester. Population, 15,585.

Hereford, as its old Saxon name explains it to be, stands at a military Ford on the Wye, which King Harold protected by a castle, the site of which, at Castle Green, is now occupied by the Nelson Column, where an old bridge of the fifteenth century crosses the river a little higher. To this castle the barons brought Edward II’s favourite, De Spenser, and executed him, in 1322; and four years later the unfortunate king himself was here deprived of his crown. Parts of the town are low and old fashioned. Some remains of the old town walls are still visible. The soil without is a lich tract of meadow, orchard, and timber; and the internal trade is chiefly in agricultural produce, good cider and perry (which require a little, brandy to qualify them), wool, hops, and prime cattle — the last being a splendid breed, white-faced, with soft reddish brown coats. A few gloves and other leather goods are made. Salmon are caught

The present Cathedral, lately restored, standing near the river, and dedicated to St. Mary, is the third on this site, the first one having been founded in the ninth century by King Offa, to atone for the murder of Ethelbert. It is a handsome cross, 325 feet long, begun by Bishop Herbert de Lozinga in 1079, when the Norman style prevailed, and finished by Bishop Borth in 1535, who built the beautiful north porch. The west front was spoiled by Wyatt in restoring it after the fall of the tower above in 1786. There are two other Norman towers, and a great tower, which firmly support a tall spire. Some of the Gothic side chapels, and the monuments of Bishop Cantilupe, Bishop de Bethune, &c, deserve notice. A curious Saxon map of the world is in the library. The college of the Vicars-Choral, and the grammar school are in the cloisters; the latter was founded in 1385.

The triennial music festivals are held in the Shire Mall, a handsome building, by Smirke, built in 1817. Near this is an ancient Town Hall, constructed of carved timber, 84 feet long, by 34 broad, of the time of James I., and resting on an open arcade, where the market is held, John Able was the builder The county gaol on the road to Aylstone Hill, is on the site of a priory, founded by the De Lacys; the infirmary, near the Castle Green. At the opposite end of the town, past Above Eign, is the White Cross, built in 1347, to serve as a market for the country people when the town was ravaged by the plague. Near the bridge and the old palace is the preaching cross of the Black Friary. All Saints Church and St. Peter’s are both Norman, though altered by late restorations. The tower of All Saints leans seven feet from the perpendicular. St. Martin’s is a new Gothic church, in place of one ruined in the civil wars, when Hereford was occupied by the royalist party. Poor Nell Gwynne was born here.

In the neighbourhood are various points of interest. Up the Wye are — Belmont; Sugwas, once a country seat of the bishops; Garnoms, Sir G. Cotterell, Bart., in a fine spot, under Bishopstone Hill; Moccas, Sir V. CornewaU, Bart., in an immense park. Sufton Court (near a camp) is the seat of the Herefords, an ancient family. Hampton Court, the old seat of the Coningsbys, belongs to — Arkwright, Esq., a descendant of the great cotton spinner. Foxley, Sir R. Price, Bart., was planned by Price, who wrote the “Essay on the Picturesque,” according to the principles laid down in that work.

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Places nearby

  • Gloucestershire : Cheltenham

    Cheltenham takes its name from the river Chelt, and is celebrated for its medicinal waters. It has been for the last sixty years one of the most elegant and fashionable watering places in England.

  • Gloucestershire : Gloucester

    A cathedral city, capital of the county, on the Severn, and the Bristol and Birmingham Railway, 114 miles from London.

  • Herefordshire : Ross

    Ross is situated on a rocky elevation on the east bank of the Wye. In the church are several monuments of the Rudhall family, one of whom opposed Cromwell in his siege of Hereford.