Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hanging In Hereford

I spent the day entertaining myself in Hereford, a little town in the middle of nowhere, about 3 hours from London.

Just beyond our hotel is the Hereford Cathedral, where I spent a good bit of time wandering around. The cathedral dates from the about 1000 years ago and has been growing and changing since then. It's hard to imagine a building that's been growing and changing for 1000 years (think of the wars, regime changes, etc.), but there you go. On first glance, it appears to be one monolithic structure - but upon closer examination there are lots of details and nuances to it.

In the Cathedral you can see an exhibition which shows off the Hereford Mapper Mundi and Cathedral's chained library. And what is a Mapper Mundi and chained library? Well, I'm glad you asked.

The Mapper Mundi is a map of the world created in the 1300's - a remarkable feat, especially considering the monk who created the map never actually left town. The map, centered around Jerusalem contains real places, like the Persian Gulf and Ireland, and biblical places, like the Tower of Babylon and Noah's Ark. It's both insightful and entertaining.

As for the chained library, it is just what it says it is - a collection of books chained to the shelves. Books were incredibly pricey, (according to the guide, a book was at the time worth a small farm - or about $1,000,000 in our dollars) and they didn't want them walking off. So, they chained them down. The library contains volumes that go back 1000 years, easily. You can't touch anything, but you can get awfully close. This being the Cathedral's original library, it contains quite a few religious books. But, it also contained other secular reference material.

After my visit to the Cathedral I made my way to the recommended Cider Museum, but alas, it was closed. I leave Hereford with no new information about cider. Dang.

But, all isn't lost. While waking to the museum I found Sainsbury's - which is apparently England's answer to Wal-Mart. It appeared as though I could buy anything from a new TV to produce in the same store. And while they had a great many items to buy, there were still lacking Motts Applesauce. Is that too much to ask, snack pack sized cinnamon flavored apple sauce?

I then did a few more sites in the city (an epsecially old house and a small museum that covers local history) and then I found my way to the pub where I'm currently typing this out. I asked the waitress what the closet thing to a local beer was, and she recommended Wye Valley Bitter. Maybe it was all the walking I did, or the fact that it's served at just the right temperature (not warm, but not exactly freezing cold) - but I have to say, the beer is good. And, I'm not usually a fan of beer.

Did I mention, I started the day with porridge which contains brown sugar and whiskey? It was actually quite good, and certainly made for a chill morning.

I give Hereford two thumbs up - it's definitely a fun place to explore for the day (and stay around and relax in for longer).

Here are some photos from the day:


  1. Anonymous6:58 PM

    Random note: "mapamundi" is also Spanish slang in some countries for mooning someone. :-)

  2. Anonymous8:16 PM

    Hereford cathedral has a wonderful set of forty 14th century misericords - sadly these are often obscured or roped offse

  3. Jerseygirl77 -

    Thanks for the tip. I'll be sure to add mapamundi to my vocabulary next time I'm in spain ;-).

    Laratty - Thanks for the info. I'll be sure to look out for them on next trip back.