A beautiful modern stained glass window in blues, called Ascension, by John Maine which pays tribute to the Special Air Service and its many connections to this neighbourhood..
Three tapestries designed by John Piper for the 1300th anniversary in 1976 representing the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Tree of the Crucifixion and the Tree of the Future (Book of Revelation.)
These are the possessions which made the most impression on me but the Norman pillars in the nave, the misericords, (I always love those as it seems to me they gave the relief of sitting on your suitcase on a crowded train) The Quire, St. John's Walk, The Lady Chapel, The Crypt and the gardens are also of great interest.
Having a weakness for the sensational, I was particularly enthralled by the fact that the west end and its tower collapsed on Easter Monday, 1786. I always ask myself how ancient architects and builders coped without modern methods and clearly they sometimes failed - perhaps because of earthquakes - although the date is striking. A new west front was designed by James Wyatt but the resulting facade was deemed too plain and was replaced in 1908. The brightness of his nave reflects a movement away from the idea that those churches are best for prayer that have least light.
|By kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Hereford Cathedral|
and the Hereford Mappa Mundi Trust
You will benefit from a tour of this and the Chained Library which is, as the name suggests, a collection of ancient books with chains attached to their covers at the cut-page end with 2 hasps and a lock. Hand-written books were hugely expensive (remember that Chaucer's Wife of Bath became deaf in one ear by a blow after tearing a book). It is so atmospheric: 'modern' here means post 1801 and most of the books are in Latin though I was fascinated to know that the dictionary of my hero, Dr. Johnson, is on the shelves. These treasures make Hereford Cathedral outstanding.
What is less well-known, perhaps, is that there is a also a truly modern working library with over 4000 titles available to borrow and a large reference collection. This contains theological works as well as biographies and books on the decorative arts, architecture and music. Visitors are welcome to use it and you can bring your own laptop. If I lived nearer I would inhabit it permanently! There are also unusual archives of Medieval manuscript books, early printed books, music, prints, drawings and photographs. Now that our local libraries are turning into jolly (?) community hubs, this is a rare find.
I travelled to Hereford by bus from Monmouth and fortified myself with CAKE as usual in the café. Opening hours and other visitor details may be found on the website. You might also be interested in my account of Gloucester Cathedral or one of my castle articles such as that on Goodrich Castle. If you travel by car (tut! tut!) you could spend a lovely afternoon at Hampton Court Castle with its stunning gardens which is about 20 minutes away.