Hereford, Herefordshire - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]
"HEREFORD, comprises the parishes of St. Nicholas, All Saints, St. Peter, St. John the Baptist, St. Owen, and St. Martin; it is a city, municipal and parliamentary borough, and county town of Herefordshire, locally situated in the hundred of Grimsworth, in 52° 4' N. lat. and 2° 42' W. long., distant from London 144 miles by rail, and 134 by road. The limits of the municipal and parliamentary borough are co-extensive. The population of Hereford in 1861 was 15,585, and in 1861, 12,108, having increased in the interval by 3,477; the number of inhabited houses in 1861 was 3,005, and of uninhabited 113.

The city is situated on a gentle eminence rising from the northern bank of the Wye, and nearly in the centre of the county. It is a railway station at the junction of the Hereford, Ross, and Gloucester railway, the Hereford and Worcester railway, the Newport, Abergavenny, and Hereford railway, and the Shrewsbury and Hereford railway. Hereford is a city of great antiquity, having been founded probably shortly after the departure of the Romans from Britain, near the site of the Roman station Magna Castra. So early as the year 680, Hereford must have been a place of great importance, inasmuch as a synod was held here for the purpose of erecting a new see, and Putta was elected the first Bishop of Hereford.

For several centuries after its foundation, Hereford was very important as a garrison town, and was walled in by Athelstan. In 1055, Gryffyth, or Griffin, a prince of Wales, led an army into Herefordshire, captured the city, plundered and slaughtered the inhabitants, set fire to the cathedral, and reduced the greater part of the town to ruins. The fortifications were rebuilt by Harold, son of Godwin, Earl of Kent; some writers ascribe to him the building of the castle also.

In 1141 the town was captured by Stephen; in 1189 it received its first charter from Richard I.; in 1461, after the battle of Mortimer's Cross, Owen Tudor, with many others, was executed here; in 1643 it surrendered to the parliamentary forces under Sir William Waller, but was retaken by the royalists; in 1645 it was besieged by the Scotch under Lord Leven; but on the approach of the king to the city, after his defeat at Naseby, they raised the siege. Hereford was one of the last places which held out for the king, and to reward this devotion Charles II., on coming to the throne, granted the city a new charter, accompanied with the motto, "Invictæ Fidelitatis Præmium".

It is now governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors, and returns two members to parliament for the borough. The assizes and quarter sessions for the county are held here. Hereford has generally been considered a very healthy town. The streets are broad and well paved, and lighted with gas: the private houses are mostly built of brick.

The principal public buildings are - the Shire or County Hall, built in 1817, after a design of Sir Robert Smirke's, a commodious structure, with a portico, supported by eight fluted pillars: it consists of a large hall, which is used at elections, assemblies, &c., and the rooms appropriated to the law and record officers; the county gaol, in Commercial-road, enclosed within a high brick wall: the entrance to this is a rusticated gateway with Tuscan pillars; the city prison, formerly one of the gates of the ancient walls; the townhall, now entirely removed, formerly situated in the High Town, a wood and plaster building, supposed to have been erected in the reign of James I.; the infirmary, situated near the river, first opened in 1776; the union workhouse, a substantial building erected in 1836; and the post-office, a neat building.

The theatre, where Clive, Siddons, Kemble, and Garrick commenced their careers as actors, and which was for many years under the direction of the Kembles, has been pulled down, and a corn exchange with clock turret has been erected on its site. The markets are held under and around the old townhall. There are also very large manure works at Holmer, within the liberties of the city. The most interesting object in Hereford is the cathedral, which stands on the S. side of the city, near to the river.

Previous to the erection of the present edifice, more than one large church had already at various times existed in Hereford. So early as the reign of Offa, King of Mercia, a church stood here, which was afterwards pulled down by Milfred, a governor of Mercia, in the reign of Egbert, to give place to a more imposing edifice. Concerning the erection of this second church, tradition has handed down the following account:-

Offa having, at the instigation of his wife, murdered Ethelbert, King of the West Angles, in expiation of his crime caused Ethelbert's remains to be deposited in the church at Hereford, and erected a tomb over them, at the same time making large donations to the church. On becoming Governor of Mercia, hearing that miracles had been performed at Ethelbert's tomb, and satisfied with the results of his inquiries as to their genuineness, Milfred resolved upon erecting a new church in place of the old one, for which purpose he made a large addition to the valuable treasures which the church had already acquired from the munificence of Offa and the offerings of the numerous pilgrims who resorted hither.

This church was completed in 825. After the lapse of 200 years, Milfred's church had fallen into decay. Athelstan, Bishop of Hereford, commenced the erection of a new one, which was completed about 1030. This church was destroyed by Gryffyth in 1055. After the destruction of Athelstan's church, the present cathedral was commenced by Bishop Robert, of Lorraine, and completed by Bishop Raynelm about the year 1115. Since that time several additions have been made to the original structure.

The central tower was built about 1200; and a beautiful tower was erected over the W. front, probably in the reign of Edward II. or Edward III. In 1786 this tower fell, destroying the western portion of the cathedral. A new western end was built by Wyatt, in a style not in correspondence with that of the original architecture, which sadly mars the beauty of the exterior. The cathedral is cruciform. The principal dimensions are extreme length, 350 feet; breadth, 174 feet; height of nave, 63 feet; breadth of nave, 28 feet; height of tower, 160 feet.

The cathedral contains many beautiful and interesting monuments, some of which are very ancient. The cathedral has been extensively restored by G. G. Scott, Esq., mainly through the dean and chapter. Large contributions have been given by the gentry and landed proprietors towards this object. There is a service held in the Lady chapel for the parish of St. John, as that part of the cathedral is within the parish. In the chapter-room is a very curious old map of the world - one of the most ancient in existence.

The college is a quadrangle, containing the residences of the vicars. The library, at the E. end, contains many valuable books and manuscripts. The cloisters connect the cathedral with the bishop's palace, an ancient building situated near the banks of the Wye. The tower, which rises from the intersection of the nave and transept, was formerly surmounted by a wooden spire covered with lead, but this was pulled down at the end of the last century.

Besides the cathedral, the principal churches in Hereford are - All Saints, at the top of Eign-street, consisting of a nave, chancel, and side aisles, with a tower surmounted by a lofty spire - the living, value £180, in the patronage of the Dean and Canons of Windsor; St. Martin's in the Ross-road, a cruciform building with a spire, and containing a stained-glass window; St. Nicholas, at the end of Victoria-street, having a massive square tower; St. Peter's, in St. Owen-street, founded by Walter de Lacy about 1080, consisting of a nave, chancel, N. and S. aisles, and a tower.

The Roman Catholics have a chapel here. The Methodists, Baptists, Friends, and Independents, have places of worship. There are several schools in the city; the cathedral school is the principal one. In 1859 magnificent National schools were erected by the Vicar of St. Martin's, in the early English style, to correspond with the vicarage and church. Hereford also contains a museum, literary institution, library, and reading-room.

There are numerous charitable institutions in the town - Coningsby hospital, for 1 invalided soldier and 10 old servants; St. Ethelbert's hospital, for the maintenance of 10 poor women; Trinity hospital, for a corporal, 2 men, and 12 widows; St. Giles's hospital, for 5 poor men; William's hospital, for 6 poor men; Shelley's hospital, for 6 poor widows; Price's hospital, for 12 aged freemen of the city; and Lazarus hospital, for 6 poor widows.

The principal antiquities in the town are a few remains of the castle, and an old house in Wildemarsh street, formerly belonging to the Black Friars, adjoining which was a chapel and buildings of the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem. Portions of the old city wall are still standing in three or four parts of the city. Of the various other monasteries and religious houses which existed in the city previous to the Reformation, there are no longer any traces. The diocese of Hereford is in the province of Canterbury. It includes the greater part of Herefordshire, part of Shropshire, Worcestershire, Monmouthshire, Radnor, and Montgomeryshire, and comprises 338 benefices.

Several persons of celebrity have been born in Hereford, as Nell Gwynn, David Garrick, and Havard. There are two weekly papers published in the city - the Herefordshire Journal, Conservative, one of the oldest established in England; and the Hereford Tinges, Liberal, commenced in 1832. Wednesday and Saturday are market days. Fairs are held on the first Tuesday in February, Wednesday in Easter Week, 1st July, and 20th October, chiefly for cattle."

"GRAFTON, a township in the parish of Hereford All Saints, hundred of Webtree, county Hereford, 2 miles S. of Hereford. Graftonbury Hall is the principal residence."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]