Sunday, May 12, 2013

Official Post: May 7, Hereford

 Sorry this post is a little late, but it is still here!

On Tuesday May 7, our task was to explore Hereford Cathedral and other things to see around Hereford.
After taking a bus to the town center from Leominster, our first visit was the Hereford Cathedral. This cathedral was very similar to the York Minster, but much, much smaller. It was still one of the largest buildings in the area. Something that caught my eye about this cathedral was how much of it was still original, and still looked fairly good. There were many tombs that still had original paint and color on them. Unfortunately, almost half of the cathedral had been rebuilt because the west tower fell down in 1786, crushing much of the back of the cathedral. The remainder of the cathedral dates back to  the early 1200's, which holds many of the very decorated tombs, organ, and the choir. I was personally impressed with the kneeling cushions that were attached to each pew in the nave. Each one appeared to be handmade and had symbols and names of people sewn into them. Many had family coats of arms. I was also impressed with the organ, which dated back to the late 1800's. The mechanics behind such a large instrument that relied on wind power was  very impressive. Hanging on the outsides of the choir were also some very old remnants of some flags. I found it very interesting that they were still hanging there, and were not changed to match the current flags. All in all, the cathedral itself was a very impressive example of medieval architecture and style.
Connected to the cathedral, was a long hallway that led to buildings that contained the Mappa Mundi and the Chained Library. The Mappa Mundi is a map created in the later 13th century of the world. It included many interesting locations, such as Heaven, the Garden of Eden, and the path that Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness. It placed Jurusalem at the center of the map, and only included the continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Also notable on the map was many references to strange creatures. It was a very interesting map to look at, even though we were unable to take pictures of it and it was not in English.
The Chained Library is very interesting exhibit. The bindings of the books are all chained to the shelves that they sit on, so that they cannot be stolen. The library was kept in the cathdral for many years. It shows how knowledge was valued. To read a book, you would pull it out and set it on the table under the shelves, and read it in the seats that were also included. Among the library is a copy of the book of the Gospels that are at least 1000 years old, and a unique Hereford antiphonary from the 1300's.
After viewing these exhibits, we were free to explore the rest of Hereford. The town was preparing for a carnival of sorts, with many modern rides and attractions lining the streets instead of cars. We visited many local shops, searching for interesting finds. We also visited a few book stores, which had a much different selection of books than I would expect in the United States. Many books I assumed were popular worldwide could not be found, and many that I have never heard of were everywhere.
For our lunch, we had brought sandwiches that we made ourselves, supplemented with a snack from a local coffee and tea shop. Finally, before heading back to Leominster, I got in line at the post office to mail some postcards back to the United States. I just barely made the bus back, but I finally mailed the postcards I had been anxious to send home.
Once back at the hostel in Leominster, Dr. L promised us some Indian take-out food. Our dinner consisted of many entres I cannot remember the name of. I think I speak for the group when I say that much of it was very interesting. It was something to experience, but I am not sure how many of us would get it again soon.
After dinner, some of us busied ourselves with a 1500 piece puzzle supplied by the hostel. Needless to say, we were unable to complete much more than the outside border before our leave of the hostel.

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