Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hereford Cathedral: I didn't see the chained library but I did see a tiny tea set

I'm never going to be one of those people who gets to grips with an expensive camera and presents gorgeous, crisp shots of my life ... we do actually own a decent camera but it's so big and cumbersome it hardly ever gets taken out of its case.

This is absolutely typical. Literally the second I write that, my boyfriend instantly gets out the big camera and starts taking pictures with it for his next forecast mix. Ignore everything I said.

I do however take an inordinate amount of pictures with my iPhone.

I rather inadvisedly (due to my financial straits) shelled out for the new one right at the beginning of my maternity leave and I'm so glad I did because I've now got a treasure trove of little moments I never want to forget of my son's first months, captured forever, or until my hard drive disintegrates. Video is so quick and easy to take and with the new upgrade it's impossible to not snap pictures everywhere you go.

We went to Hereford on a grey, dingy day recently to visit friends we hadn't seen for ages, and I took some pictures. It was lovely there despite the weather. The cathedral was stunning but I was gutted because the room with the chained library (the world's largest Medieval library of its kind) and the Mappa Mundi, a Medieval map, was shut and I had really wanted to go there after a picture I saw circulating on tumblr.

Strolling around Hereford with rain threatening, I kept spotting exciting looking buildings across the river.

We went into a little old house where there was a tiny little tea set carved from wood and ivory!


I was excited about the cathedral, and it was everything I thought it would be.

Hereford Cathedral from the outside.

I really love cathedrals. I once spent a week in York facilitating for the second part of the Human Givens Diploma, it was an intensely stressful week for me and to relax I used to go into York Minster which is an very other-worldly building if you have never been there.

I found out that cathedrals were built as a sort of spiritual and cultural exercise for the people living during their time of construction, rather than 'simply' as a monument to God (I am not religious).

The actual building of the cathedral took hundreds of years and involved thousands of workers working towards a common goal, which in turn helped build a healthy, thriving community around the cathedral site. It is really quite astonishing to look at a cathedral and imagine how it was put together.

Then, the nature of the finished cathedral was designed to alter the consciousness of anyone who entered it and precipitate spiritual development. And by this I mean that it induced a different 'state' in the person experiencing it. I always find that myself when entering a cathedral. I go into a trance and drift about the place, soaking up the atmosphere, turning round and around and looking upwards. You feel small, and it gives you perspective and makes you really aware of the present.

This knowledge really changed my perspective of such buildings. Now every time I go into one I can't help but get a sense of how astonishing it must have been for ordinary medieval people to first enter a newly built cathedral. We take such buildings for granted now, but what must it have been like then, for someone who had only lived in a small building and not traveled far or seen much to be able to tip their head back and stare in wonder at the huge space and extraordinary geometry of these vast monuments to something so much bigger than themselves?

It must have been like being inside a dream.

There was a choral choir practice going on which made it feel extra atmospheric. I even took a video which I will spare you.

Hereford was full of gems: this is a real Handel score that was displayed inside the cathedral.

I can't wait to go back and see the bits I missed.


  1. Looks pretty! We drove through Hereford when we were away last month but didn't stop. Maybe we should have looking at this!

    We did go to Gloucester Cathedral though, which was also lovely. It had some amazing cloisters, where they apparently filmed some of the Hogwarts corridor scenes!

    1. Maybe I'll go there next, I recognise it from the films!


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