Hereford Cathedral is an imposing Gothic style building that lies at the heart of this pretty English county town. The current site has been the centre of worship in Hereford since at least the 8th Century although it is largely acknowledged that the buildings visible today have been in existence since 1107-1158, following the Norman Conquest.
The formal name for Hereford Cathedral is ‘The Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin and Ethelbert the King’. The name derives from the time when the young King Ethelbert died and was interred into the Cathedral. Many people made a pilgrimage to visit the site of his remains because he had suffered an untimely death. He had been due to marry King Offa’s daughter, but was murdered before he could do so – presumably upon the orders of King Offa or his Queen. Ethelbert was later canonised and forever after known as Saint Ethelbert.
The Cathedral has seen turbulent times, most notably during its early years when the first Saxon construction was completely destroyed following a Welsh Army invasion in 1055. The Normans rebuilt the Cathedral in a style which has largely survived until modern times.
Whereas many other places of worship did not survive the Reformation years, Hereford Cathedral appears to have escaped largely unscathed, with just the St Thomas Shrine in the Lady Chapel being demolished in 1538. A catastrophic event occurred on Easter Monday in 1788 when the west front and the west tower of the cathedral collapsed with devastating consequences. Two years later, the Cathedral was once again repaired and rebuilt although many of the original fittings had to be removed.
Nowadays Hereford’s cathedral is a very popular attraction and is celebrated as being home to the famous ‘Mappa Muni’ which is a medieval map of the world.