City and administrative headquarters of the unitary authority of Herefordshire, west-central England, on the River Wye, 34 km/21 mi southwest of Worcester; population (2001) 56,400. It is an agricultural centre, with a livestock market noted for its white-faced Hereford cattle. The city has the UK's largest cider industry. Other activities include brewing, food processing (chicken), tourism, and the manufacture of non-ferrous alloys and components. The cathedral, dating from 1079, has the largest chained library in the world and a medieval Mappa Mundi (map of the world).
The Three Choirs Festival is held in the cathedral every third year (in turn with Gloucester and Worcester).
Hereford Cathedral Much altered since it was built in the 12th century, the cathedral exhibits a mixture of architectural styles, including Norman arches at the eastern end of the nave, a 13th-century northern transept, and a 14th-century central tower. The elaborate Mappa Mundi is one of the largest medieval maps in Europe. It was made in England around 1285 by Richard of Haldingham, with the Welsh castles added during 1289. Following an appeal in 1988, money was raised to restore and preserve the map. The chained library contains almost 1,500 books, both handwritten and printed. Each book is attached to the oak bookcase by a chain.
Features The Old House is a 17th-century black-and-white timbered residence, now housing a museum. The river is spanned by the Wye Bridge, dating from 1490, and Greyfriars Bridge, opened in 1966. Other features include Castle Green on the site of the old castle; the Coningsby Hospital (1614) almshouses; the Cathedral School, which had its first known headmaster in 1384; St Ethelbert's Hospital; All Saints' Church, with 14th-century carved stalls and a chained library; and the 12th–14th-century church of St Peter's. The Wye is an excellent salmon river.
History The site of Hereford was seized from the Welsh by the Mercians in about AD 600, and it became the capital of West Mercia and a garrison against the Welsh. King Offa of Mercia later established the Wye as border between Wales and England, and built Offa's Dyke in about 785 to mark the border. Hereford's first castle, built by Ralph, the nephew of Edward the Confessor, was destroyed (along with the original Saxon cathedral) following a defeat by the Welsh in 1055. In Norman times the city was an important garrison, and it received its first charter from Richard I in 1189. It prospered in the Middle Ages as a centre of the wool trade, but it continued to be the scene of warfare until after the English Civil War. Hereford was held by the king for most of the Civil War, suffering several Parliamentary raids from Gloucester, and changing hands more than once. The Earl of Stamford took it for Parliament in September 1642, but evacuated it in early December, after which the Royalists returned. In April 1643 it was garrisoned again by a Parliamentary force for about six weeks. In July and August 1645 a Scottish force unsuccessfully besieged the town, but in November 1645 a large Parliamentary force led by Col John Birch took the town and held it until after the war. The castle was finally demolished in 1660.
Famous people The actor and theatre manager David Garrick was born here in 1717. It is said that Hereford was the birthplace of the 17th-century actor Nell Gwyn.
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