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The current Hereford Cathedral , located at Hereford in England, dates from Its most famous treasure is Mappa Mundi , a mediaeval map of the world dating from the 13th century.
The cathedral is a Grade I listed building. The latter was beheaded by Offa, King of Mercia in the year Offa had consented to give his daughter to Ethelbert in marriage: At Ethelbert's tomb miracles were said to have occurred, and in the next century about Milfrid , a Mercian nobleman, was so moved by the tales of these marvels as to rebuild in stone the little church which stood there, and to dedicate it to the sainted king.
Before this, Hereford had become the seat of a bishopric. The cathedral of stone, which Milfrid raised, stood for some years, and then, in the reign of Edward the Confessor , it was altered.
The new church had only a short life, for it was plundered and burnt in by a combined force of Welsh and Irish under Gruffydd ap Llywelyn , the Welsh prince; it was not, however, destroyed until its custodians had offered vigorous resistance, in which seven of the canons were killed. Hereford Cathedral remained in a state of ruin until Robert of Lorraine was consecrated to the see made a bishop in and undertook its reconstruction. His work was carried on, or, more probably, redone, by Reynelm , who was next but one bishop, and reorganised the college of secular canons attached to the cathedral.
Reynelm died in , and it was only under his third successor, Robert de Betun , who was Bishop from to , that the church was brought to completion. Of this Norman church, little has survived but the choir up to the spring of the clerestory , the south transept , the arch between the north transept and the choir aisle, and the nave arcade. Scarcely 50 years after its completion William de Vere , who occupied the see from to , altered the east end by constructing a retro-choir or processional path and a Lady Chapel ; the latter was rebuilt not long afterwards—between the years and , during the Early English style—with a crypt beneath.
Around the middle of the century the clerestory, and probably the vaulting of the choir, were rebuilt, having been damaged by the settling of the central tower. Under Peter of Aigueblanche bishop —68 , one of Henry III 's foreign favourites, the rebuilding of the north transept was begun, being completed later in the same century by Swinfield, who also built the aisles of the nave and eastern transept. One of the most notable of the pre-reformation Bishops of Hereford, who left his mark upon the cathedral and the diocese, was Peter of Aigueblanche, also known as Aquablanca, who rebuilt the north transept.
Aquablanca came to England in the train of Eleanor of Provence. He was undoubtedly a man of energy and resource; though he lavished money upon the cathedral and made a handsome bequest to the poor, it cannot be pretended that his qualifications for the office to which Henry III appointed him included piety. He was a nepotist who occasionally practised gross fraud.
When Prince Edward came to Hereford to deal with Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd , Aquablanca was away in Ireland on a tithe-collecting expedition , and the dean and canons were also absent. Not long after Aquablanca's return, which was probably expedited by the stern rebuke which the King administered, he and all his relatives from Savoy were seized within the cathedral by a party of barons, who deprived him of the money which he had extorted from the Irish.
In the first half of the 14th century the rebuilding of the central tower, which is embellished with ball-flower ornaments, was carried out. At about the same time the chapter house and its vestibule were built, then Thomas Trevenant , who was bishop from to , rebuilt the south end and groining of the great transept.
Around the middle of the 15th century a tower was added to the western end of the nave, and in the second half of this century bishops John Stanberry and Edmund Audley built three chantries, the former on the north side of the presbytery, the latter on the south side of the Lady Chapel. Later bishops Richard Mayew and Booth, who between them ruled the diocese from to , made the last additions to the cathedral by erecting the north porch, now forming the principal northern entrance. The building of the present edifice therefore extended over a period of years.
Thomas de Cantilupe was the next but one Bishop of Hereford after Aquablanca. He had faults not uncommon in men who held high ecclesiastical office in his day, however he was a strenuous administrator of his see, and an unbending champion of its rights. For assaulting some of the episcopal tenants and raiding their cattle, Lord Clifford was condemned to walk barefoot through the cathedral to the high altar, and Cantilupe himself applied the rod to his back.
Cantilupe also wrung from the Welsh king Llewellyn some manors which he had seized, and Cantilupe, after a successful lawsuit against the Earl of Gloucester to determine the possession of a chase near the Forest of Malvern, dug the dyke which can still be traced on the crest of the Malvern Hills. Excommunicated by John Peckham , Archbishop of Canterbury , he went to the papal court in Orvieto to plead his case with the pope.
He moved with the court to Montefiascone where, already ill, he died in before his case was fully resolved. His flesh was buried in the monastery of San Severo outside Orvieto and his heart and bones were brought back to England. His bones were placed in a shrine at Hereford Cathedral where they became a focus of a huge pilgrimage cult.
Rome was urged to canonise him, and among the evidences of his saintliness which his admirers appealed to, in addition to the miracles of healing wrought at his shrine, were the facts that he never ceased to wear his hair-shirt, and would never allow even his sister to kiss him. The testimony was regarded as conclusive, and 40 years after his death, in , Cantilupe's name was added to the roll of saints. His arms were adopted for those of the see.
The choir stalls support forty 14th-century misericords. These misericords show a mixture of mythological beasts, grotesques and everyday events, there appears to be no pattern to the content. In addition to the misericords in the choir, there are five others contained in a row of "Judges Seats" It is unclear if these were used as misericords, or if they are just ornamentation.
In the war between King and Parliament the English Civil War the city of Hereford fell into the hands first of one party, then of the other. Once it endured a siege , and when it was taken the conquerors ran riot in the cathedral and, in their fury, caused great damage which could never be repaired.
In the early years of the 18th century, Philip Bisse bishop, —21 , devised a scheme to support the central tower. He also had installed an enormous altar-piece and an oak screen, and instead of restoring the Chapter House he allowed its stones to be utilised for alterations to the Bishop's Palace. It was during this period that his brother, Thomas Bisse, was the Chancellor of the Cathedral. On Easter Monday , , the greatest disaster in the history of the cathedral took place.
The west tower fell, creating a ruin of the whole of the west front and at least one part of the nave. The tower, which, unlike the west tower of Ely , was in the west bay of the nave, had a general resemblance to the central tower; both were profusely covered with ball-flower ornaments, and both terminated in leaden spires. James Wyatt was called in to repair the damage. As he did at Durham , instead of just repairing, he made alterations which were and are not universally popular.
In the restoration work was begun, instigated by Dean Merewether , and was carried out by Lewis Nockalls Cottingham and his son, Nockalls. Bisse's masonry, which by this time had been found to be useless, was swept away from the central tower, the lantern was strengthened and exposed to view, and much work was done in the nave and to the exterior of the Lady Chapel.
When Nockalls Cottingham drowned on a voyage to New York in September , George Gilbert Scott was called in, and from that time the work of restoring the choir was performed continuously until , when on 30 June the cathedral was reopened with solemn services. Renn Hampden , Bishop of Hereford, preached in the morning and Samuel Wilberforce preached in the evening.
In his diary, Wilberforce characterises his right reverend brother's sermon as "dull, but thoroughly orthodox"; but of his own service he remarks not without complacency , "I preached evening; great congregation and much interested. The west front was restored by John Oldrid Scott over the period and Since then much else has been done. A new library building was constructed in the early s and opened by Queen Elizabeth II in It has since been restored and is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Work on a new Cathedral Green, with pathways, seating, and gated entrance to the Cathedral was undertaken in to In , landscaping and restoration efforts began at the Cathedral, financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund. These efforts involved reburying thousands of corpses, some from 12th century to the 14th century stone-lined graves, from the cathedral burial plot.
Unusually, from the Middle Ages until the 19th century, anyone who died on church grounds had to be buried within the precinct. Notable among those reburied during the restoration included a knight who may have participated in tourney jousting, a man with leprosy it was unusual for lepers to be buried anywhere near a cathedral due to the stigma associated with the disease , and a woman with a severed hand a typical punishment for a thief, who would normally be unlikely to receive cathedral burial.
The tenor bell weighs 34 cwt 1. The oldest bell in the Cathedral is the sixth which dates back to the 13th century. The bells are sometimes known as the "Grand Old Lady" as they are a unique ring of bells. The Cathedral is the main tower of the Hereford Diocesan Guild. There is decorative work on the Norman architecture columns and arches of the nave built by Reynelm's stonemasons.
Until the pavement which had been laid down in the nave completely hid the square bases on which the piers rest. Double semi-cylindrical shafts run up their north and south faces, ending in small double capitals at the height of the capitals of the piers themselves. In the south aisle of the nave are two 14th century church monument tombs, with effigies of unknown ecclesiastics.
The tomb of Sir Richard Pembridge, Knight of the Garter in the reign of Edward III , is a fine example of the armour of that period, and it is one of the earliest instances of an effigy wearing the garter. A square-headed doorway gives access from this aisle to the Bishop's Cloister.
At the northern entrance is a porch and Decorated doorway, a good general view is at once obtained. There is a modern rood screen , a spacious and lofty central lantern, and a reredos with a carved spandrel. The Lady Chapel has lancet windows , foliated ornaments and a groined roof. The tomb of Charles Booth , bishop and builder of the porch, is in the sixth bay of the nave on the north side, guarded by the only ancient ironwork left in the cathedral. On the south side of the nave is the Norman font , a circular bowl large enough to allow of the immersion of children.
The north transept, rebuilt by Aquablanca in the Decorated period, and restored by Scott, is remarkable for the diapering of the triforium arcade, and for the form of the pointed arches and windows, which have so slight a curvature as to resemble two straight lines meeting at an angle. The north window is filled with stained glass by Hardman as a memorial of Archdeacon Lane-Freer, who died in In this transept is the tomb or substructure of the shrine of Thomas de Cantilupe , early Decorated work which has been restored.
Of Purbeck marble , it is built in two stages, of which the lower contains 14 figures of Knights Templars in chainmail armour , occupying cinquefoiled niches; the Bishop was Provincial Grand Master of that Order in England. Between the north choir aisle and the eastern aisle of the transept is the tomb of Peter Aquablanca, the most ancient of the episcopal monuments in the church.
The effigy is an example of a bishop in full vestments; the canopy is supported by slender shafts; the carving throughout is delicate. The south transept is thought by some authorities to be the oldest part of the cathedral, and it exhibits some Norman work, notably the eastern wall with its arcades.
Until its removal in the s there was a wrought iron choir-screen , painted and gilt. Designed by Scott, it was executed by Messrs. Skidmore, of Coventry , from whose works also came the earlier metal screen at Lichfield.
After being kept in storage for many years, the screen was completely restored in the late s and re-erected at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The choir, consisting of three Norman bays of three stages, is full of objects of beauty and interest. The reredos , designed by the younger Cottingham, consists of five canopied compartments, with elaborate sculpture representing our Lord's Passion.
Behind it is a pier from which spring two pointed arches; the spandrel thus formed is covered with rich modern sculpture, representing Christ in his majesty, with angels and the four Evangelists; below is a figure of King Ethelbert. Against the most easterly point on the south side of the choir is to be seen a small effigy of this king, which was dug up at the entrance to the Lady Chapel about the year The Bishop's throne and the stalls, of 14th century work and restored, and the modern book desks and figures of angels on the upper stalls, deserve attention.
There is also a very curious ancient episcopal chair. On the south side of the choir is the organ case also designed by Scott. It houses an instrument built in by Henry Willis , generally considered to be one of the finest examples of his work in the country.
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