Hereford Cathedral

This week we had a little day trip over to Hereford, part of the Welsh/English border counties area where we hope to move next year. Visiting Hereford Cathedral was top of the list of things to do in our short time (as we had caught the train out). It is smaller than one of our local favourites, Gloucestershire Cathedral, and the stone is darker - a pinky, shadowy sandstone, unlike the light limestone we are used to in the Cotswolds. We were given a very warm welcome and there were so many interesting and quirky features, not the least being this wonderful - chandelier is the only word for it - poised like a halo or abstracted crown of thorns, above the crossing. Looking from this point towards the High Altar and far beyond to the Lady Chapel -

- and seen from the side, with a crucifixion painting just to the left which I instantly recognised as a
Craigie Aitchison and later found that it has been loaned to the cathedral by the Jerwood Foundation. I'd love to see this area at night, when it is illuminated.

Prayers are said every hour, which is a welcome little spiritual breathing space.

Another familiar British artist is represented here, these three tapestries by
John Piper. I found it quite difficult to get really good shots inside; it was as if the dark stone absorbed the light and colour.

Rather tickled to see the attention to detail here - behind the High Altar, a sight not often seen - the backs of angels.

I've never seen so much painted stone and wood, especially in the Lady Chapel -

We have, it seems, been a nation of animal lovers for a very long time - many of the great and the good have a companion situated at their feet and it's often a dog of some description.

Albeit sometimes headless.

Just off the Lady Chapel is the Audley Chapel, through which you can just glimpse the superb modern stained class windows made by the great contemporary artist
Tom Denny, whose work we have also admired in Gloucester Cathedral, as seen here. It was actually heaving with admirers, despite this snap, so I left it for another day.

What I love about our cathedrals is that they are, on the one hand, vasty deep and magnificent - after all, they were built to be all about power and statement, both politically and religious.

And yet there is also such exquisite detail;

- and in the tiny, confined space of the Stanbury Chapel, dating from the late 1400s, it is almost claustrophobic, as if one were sitting inside a carved seashell.

Finally we wandered down the cloisters, where we noticed the unusual carved wood ceiling supports. And a few cobwebs.

And at the end, a neat pile of odds and ends of salvaged carvings, most of them look medieval or earlier to me. Not that I'm an expert.

I can spot a foliage man head in there...

We didn't look at the famous Mappa Mundi, because it would have cost £6 each and as ever, we are counting our pennies. But we should be living close by one day, so it will be a special treat for the future.

I am aware of how inadequate my photos are, for expressing the sheer magnitude and majesty of this wonderful sacred building, but happily there is an excellent 360 degree virtual tour of Hereford Cathedral, which can be accessed through the left hand menu on their
home page here. Full screen recommended.


Nancy said...

Your pictures are really quite lovely. I understand how hard it is to take photos inside the space. When I was lucky enough to visit Wells Cathredral I could not photgraph everything and I couldn't always capture the right feel with the camera. I've been lucky enough to visit parts of Wales and the Cotswalds and think they are both very special places. Thanks for the photos.

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Your photos are perfect because of the natural light. I could honestly feel the coolness in there, the texture of the stone, the pure age of the stucture and magnificent craft of the carvings.

mountainear said...

I really MUST visit - Hereford is about an hour away from our home on the Shropshire/Wales border and we are in its diocese. Your pictures show what a treasure trove those stone walls contain.

BumbleVee said...

Wow..... it is a lovely cathedral Gretel....and thankfully so well preserved. So many were destroyed during the wars .....

I bet it would be beautiful at Christmas and perhaps there would even be choir singing...how wonderful that would be to hear.....

Julia Kelly said...

love the pattern and textures- thanks for the look!

JGG said...

Thanks for sharing. Many of us in the states love to see the photos from England. I'll probably never get to visit and see this in person, so thanks again1

Jane said...

It's a beautifl cathedral, isn't it. Certainly one of our favourites. I can remember when the Mappa Mundi ust hung in a dark corner and you pressed a button to allow enough light to look at it. I suppose it's more safel preserved these days, but it means you can't ust visit and look whenever you want due to cost. A lot of the illustrations are echoed in other medieval manuscripts - especially bestiaries. A fascinating picture of Medieval belief.

Jane said...

Sorry, my key board seems to be missing letters out today!

Gerry Snape said...

Wonderful photos and such a lovely site. I love the painted stone. Super post!

Janet Metzger, Artist said...

Oh Gretel,

What fabulous places you have access to. I agree with Julie, you can almost feel the coolness of the stone.

I could sit inside and just contemplate the world as time ticked on.

Once again you let us tag along with you and Andy ... for that I say "Thank you!".

Janet xox

Amanda M said...

What an amazing place! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos, they almost give a feel of what it must be like walking through the space!

ellen said...

Oh, My God..how beautiful.
I will be dreaming of all of these wonderful images tonight.
Thank you!
And, yes, it is sacred and I do believe your photos are wonderful.

Lorraine Young Pottery said...

Stunning to say the least! The angels are sublime as are your photos.


Acornmoon said...

If you move to that part of the world you will be near to the Wye valley which has got to be one of the most outstandingly beautiful parts of the country.

I can see your delight in Hereford Catherdal, not just in the grand but in all the little details which give a place a human touch.

Rowan said...

Hereford is one of the places I've never visited but I must try and get there at some point as I'd love to see both the city and the Cathedral especially the Mappa Mundi. It's often hard to get good photos in churches and cathedrals - yours are good especially the one os the Stansbury Chapel.

Deborah Flint said...

Acornmoon, you are right about the Wye Valley! We moved less than two months ago to the Lower Wye, just below St Briavels and its castle.

Gretel, I am sure you already know, but just in case you didn't: lions were often put at the feet of men on tombs to denote bravery/outstanding military service, and dogs were more traditionally used on women's tombs to denote faithfulness.

I think you should have a bicycle or a bee at your feet when that time comes :-)