Today we were treated to a guided tour around Hereford City Centre, courtesy of the Hereford Guild of Guides. Bill and Lynn had been offered a complimentary tour but due to prior commitments they suggested we might be interested.
We met David Fagg outside the Discover Herefordshire Centre (previously the Tourist Information Centre, that some bright spark decided to close down) at 10am and our education began! He gave us two hours of his time and gave us so much information that brought the city alive and fired up our curiosity.
David gave us a brief history of the origins of the city, and its importance as an army town dating back to the Anglo Saxons when the border of England and Wales was vigorously disputed. Its position on the River Wye was also significant and we were able to see the remains of the castle walls. Nell Gwynne allegedly was born in the City and David showed us the street, adjacent to the Bishop’s Palace. The pictures below show the entrance to the Palace on the left, which is also the original southern gate of the City and the street running parallel to it where Nell Gwynne was reared.
Many of the buildings still have the wooden frames but a lot have been covered over with ‘fake’ frontages but we were able to see tell-tale signs of the old historic town.
The first picture above is right in the centre of the city and shows the only remaining original building from the 17th Century that stands at the end of what was called Butchers Row. (www.herefordwebpages.co.uk) Legend has it that it only survived demolition because the then tenant ‘squatted’ in the property until the developers relented and retained the original building which is now used as a museum.
The second picture is of the River Wye, named after the Welsh word (I’m sure David said ‘Gwye’) meaning ‘meandering’. If anyone can correct me please do so!
There is a new statue in honour of Elgar in the courtyard of Hereford Cathedral, which itself is undergoing a massive transformation.
The Mappa Mundi exhibition has been overhauled and you are now able to see it in much better lighting due to advanced technology. It is also more interactive as you are able to identify places much easier now. Another fascinating place within the Cathedral is the Chained Library.
Dating back to the 17th Century, books were immensely expensive hence the necessity to have some sort of security system to protect them from theft. The library in the Cathedral is the largest to still exist with all of the chains and locks intact. Their website gives more detail both on the map and library www.herefordcathedral.org.uk .
We learnt so much in those two hours but will be going back again on the tour to cement the information in our minds! At the miniscule price of £3 per adult it is a real treasure! More information can be found at www.herefordguidedwalks.org.uk. Tours run every weekday at 11am and Sundays at 2.30pm starting from the 3rd Saturday in May.