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Pastimes: Hereford heritage

19 December 2006

by Juliet Waugh

IT IS unclear when Hereford was founded. Some say it was a Roman town; others say that it came later. It was certainly a key town in various battles in the 1400s. It was always remote, but accessibility was improved by introducing a canal and horse-drawn railway in the 1800s. The actor David Garrick was born here.

Getting there
In the late 1700s, it cost about £1 to make the day-and-a-half journey to London by stagecoach. Now, the train takes about three hours — but costs more. You can reach it by the M5, or by the A438 via Tewkesbury.

What to see
The Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin and St Ethelbert the King contains some wonderful examples of Norman architecture. Hereford also boasts the unique Mappa Mundi, the 13th-century vellum manuscript recording how scholars interpreted the world in spiritual as well as geographical terms.

The Old House, now a museum, gives an insight into daily life in Jacobean times, as well as being a great example of Jacobean architecture itself.

Within ten miles
Hay-on-Wye (with its numerous secondhand-bookshops) and Ross-on-Wye (with its gem of a castle) are both fascinating towns to visit. The 12th-century Kilpeck church has unique sandstone carvings.

There are plenty of cafés, pubs, and restaurants in the town centre.

The Hereford leisure centre in Holmer Road has a good range of activities. Brass-rubbing at the cathedral can prove unexpectedly popular with children.

High points
Simply walking about in this historic and fascinating town.

Low points
Not the easiest place to get to by road.

Don’t hurry: the city is best seen when you take your time to admire the lovely buildings that possibly, because they are not ostentatious, take a little more time to be appreciated.

Further information
Tourist Information Centre: phone 01432 268430.


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