HEREFORD, a city and municipal and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Herefordshire, England, on the river Wye, 144 m. W.N.W. of London, on the Worcester-Cardiff line of the Great Western railway and on the west-and-north joint line of that company and the North-Western. It is connected with Ross and Gloucester by a branch of the Great Western, and is the terminus of a line from the west worked by the Midland and Neath & Brecon companies. Pop. (1901) 21,382. It is mainly on the left bank of the river, which here traverses a broad valley, well wooded and pleasant. The cathedral of St Ethelbert exemplifies all styles from Norman to Perpendicular. The see was detached from Lichfield in 676, Putta being its first bishop; and the modern diocese covers most of Herefordshire, a considerable part of Shropshire, and small portions of Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Monmouthshire; extending also a short distance across the Welsh border. The removal of murdered Aethelbert’s body from Marden to Hereford led to the foundation of a superior church, reconstructed by Bishop Athelstane, and burnt by the Welsh in 1055. Begun again in 1079 by Bishop Robert Losinga, it was carried on by Bishop Reynelm and completed in 1148 by Bishop R. de Betun. In 1786 the great western tower fell and carried with it the west front and the first bay of the nave, when the church suffered much from unhappy restoration by James Wyatt, but his errors were partly corrected by the further work of Lewis Cottingham and Sir Gilbert Scott in 1841 and 1863 respectively, while the present west front is a reconstruction completed in 1905. The total length of the cathedral outside is 342 ft., inside 327 ft. 5 in., the nave being 158 ft. 6 in., the choir from screen to reredos 75 ft. 6 in. and the lady chapel 93 ft. 5 in. Without, the principal features are the central tower, of Decorated work with ball-flower ornament, formerly surmounted by a timber spire; and the north porch, rich Perpendicular with parvise. The lady chapel has a bold east end with five narrow lancet windows. The bishop’s cloisters, of which only two walks remain, are Perpendicular of curious design, with heavy tracery in the bays. A picturesque tower at the south-east corner, in the same style, is called the “Lady Arbour,” but the origin of the name is unknown. Of the former fine decagonal Decorated chapter-house, only the doorway and slight traces remain. Within, the nave has Norman arcades, showing the wealth of ornament common to the work of this period in the church. Wyatt shortened it by one bay, and the clerestory is his work. There is a fine late Norman font, springing from a base with the rare design of four lions at the corners. The south transept is also Norman, but largely altered by the introduction of Perpendicular work. The north transept was wholly rebuilt in 1287 to contain the shrine of St Thomas de Cantilupe, bishop of Hereford, of which there remains the magnificent marble pedestal surmounted by an ornate arcade. The fine lantern, with its many shafts and vaulting, was thrown open to the floor of the bell-chamber by Cottingham. The choir screen is a florid design by Sir Gilbert Scott, in light wrought iron, with a wealth of ornament in copper, brass, mosaic and polished stones. The dark choir is Norman in the arcades and the stage above, with Early English clerestory and vaulting. At the east end is a fine Norman arch, blocked until 1841 by a Grecian screen erected in 1717. The choir stalls are largely Decorated. The organ contains original work by the famous builder Renatus Harris, and was the gift of Charles II. to the cathedral. The small north-east and south-east transepts are Decorated but retain traces of the Norman apsidal terminations eastward. The eastern lady chapel, dated about 1220, shows elaborate Early English work. On the south side opens the little Perpendicular chantry of Bishop Audley (1492–1502). In the north choir aisle is the beautiful fan-vaulted chantry of Bishop Stanbury (1470). The crypt is remarkable as being, like the lady chapel, Early English, and is thus the only cathedral crypt in England of a later date than the 11th century. The ancient monastic library remains in the archive room, with its heavy oak cupboards. Deeds, documents and several rare manuscripts and relics are preserved, and several of the precious books are still secured by chains. But the most celebrated relic is in the south choir aisle. This is the Map of the World, dating from about 1314, the work of a Lincolnshire monk, Richard of Haldingham. It represents the world as surrounded by ocean, and embodies many ideas taken from Herodotus, Pliny and other writers, being filled with grotesque figures of men, beasts, birds and fishes, together with representations of famous cities and scenes of scriptural classical story, such as the Labyrinth of Crete, the Egyptian pyramids, Mount Sinai and the journeyings of the Israelites. The map is surmounted by representations of Paradise and the Day of Judgment.
From the south-east transept of the cathedral a cloister leads to the quadrangular college of the Vicars-Choral, a beautiful Perpendicular building. On this side of the cathedral, too, the bishop’s palace, originally a Norman hall, overlooks the Wye, and near it lies the castle green, the site of the historic castle, which is utterly effaced. There is here a column (1809) commemorating the victories of Nelson. The church of All Saints is Early English and Decorated, and has a lofty spire. Both this and St Peter’s (originally Norman) have good carved stalls, but the fabric of both churches is greatly restored. One only of the six gates and a few fragments of the old walls are still to be seen, but there are ruins of the Black Friars’ Monastery in Widemarsh, and a mile out of Hereford on the Brecon Road, the White Cross, erected in 1347 by Bishop Louis Charlton, and restored by Archdeacon Lord Saye and Sele, commemorates the departure of the Black Plague. Of domestic buildings the “Old House” is a good example of the picturesque half-timbered style, dating from 1621, and the Coningsby Hospital (almshouses) date from 1614. The inmates wear a remarkable uniform of red, designed by the founder, Sir T. Coningsby. St Ethelbert’s hospital is an Early English foundation. Old-established schools are the Cathedral school (1384) and the Blue Coat school (1710); there is also the County College (1880). The public buildings are the shire hall in St Peter’s Street, in the Grecian Doric style, with a statue in front of it of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, who represented the county in parliament from 1847 to 1852, the town hall (1904), the corn-exchange (1858), the free library and museum in Broad Street; the guildhall and mansion house. A musical festival of the choirs of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester cathedrals is held annually in rotation at these cities.
The government is in the hands of a municipal council consisting of a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 5031 acres.
Hereford (Herefortuna), founded after the crossing of the Severn by the West Saxons early in the 7th century, had a strategic importance due to its proximity to the Welsh March. The foundation of the castle is ascribed to Earl Harold, afterwards Harold II. The castle was successfully besieged by Stephen, and was the prison of Prince Edward during the Barons’ Wars. The pacification of Wales deprived Hereford of military significance until it became a Royalist stronghold during the Civil Wars. It surrendered easily to Waller in 1643; but was reoccupied by the king’s troops and received Rupert on his march to Wales after Naseby. It was besieged by the Scots during August 1645 and relieved by the king. It fell to the Parliamentarians in this year. In 1086 the town included fees of the bishop, the dean and chapter, and the Knights Hospitallers, but was otherwise royal demesne. Richard I. in 1189 sold their town to the citizens at a fee farm rent, which grant was confirmed by John, Henry III., Edward II., Edward III., Richard II., Henry IV. and Edward IV. Incorporation was granted to the mayor, aldermen and citizens in 1597, and confirmed in 1620 and 1697–1698. Hereford returned two members to parliament from 1295 until 1885, when the Redistribution Act deprived it of one representative. In 1116–1117 a fair beginning on St Ethelberta’s day was conferred on the bishop, the antecedent of the modern fair in the beginning of May. A fair beginning on St Denis’ day, granted to the citizens in 1226–1227, is represented by that held in October. The fair of Easter Wednesday was granted in 1682. In 1792 the existing fairs of Candlemas week and the beginning of July were held. Market days were, under Henry VIII. and in 1792, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; the Friday market was discontinued before 1835. Hereford was the site of a provincial mint in 1086 and later. A grant of an exclusive merchant gild, in 1215–1216, was several times confirmed. The trade in wool was important in 1202, and eventually responsible for gilds of tailors, drapers, mercers, dyers, fullers, cloth workers, weavers and haberdashers; it brought into the market Welsh friezes and white cloth; but declined in the 16th century, although it existed in 1835. The leather trade was considerable in the 13th century. In 1835 the glove trade had declined. The city anciently had an extensive trade in bread with Wales. It was the birthplace of David Garrick, the actor, in 1716, and probably of Nell Gwyn, mistress of Charles II., to whose memory a tablet was erected in 1883, marking the supposed site of her house.
See R. Johnson, Ancient Customs of Hereford (London, 1882); J. Duncumbe, History of Hereford (Hereford, 1882); Journal of Brit. Arch. Assoc. xxvi.