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Hereford
Wye Bridge, Hereford.jpg
Hereford Cathedral and Wye Bridge
Hereford shown within Herefordshire
Population 58,896 
OS grid reference SO515405
• London 135.7m
Civil parish
  • Hereford
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town HEREFORD
Postcode district HR1, HR2, HR3, HR4
Dialling code 01432
Police West Mercia
Fire Hereford and Worcester
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament
  • Hereford and South Herefordshire
List of places
UK
England
Herefordshire

Hereford (Listeni/ˈhɛrfərd/) is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately 16 miles (26 km) east of the border with Wales, 24 miles (39 km) southwest of Worcester, and 23 miles (37 km) northwest of Gloucester. With a population of 58,896, it is the largest settlement in the county.

The name "Hereford" is said to come from the Anglo-Saxon "here", an army or formation of soldiers, and the "ford", a place for crossing a river. If this is the origin it suggests that Hereford was a place where a body of armed men forded or crossed the Wye. The Welsh name for Hereford is Henffordd, meaning "old road", and probably refers to the Roman road and Roman settlement at nearby Stretton Sugwas. Much of the county of Herefordshire was welsh-speaking, as reflected in the welsh names of many places in the county (see History of Herefordshire).

An early town charter from 1189 granted by Richard I of England describes it as "Hereford in Wales". Hereford has been recognised as a city since time immemorial, with the status being reconfirmed as recently as October 2000.

It is now known chiefly as a trading centre for a wider agricultural and rural area. Products from Hereford include: cider, beer, leather goods, nickel alloys, poultry, chemicals, and cattle, including the famous Hereford breed.

History

Hereford Cathedral, from Church Street
Hereford Cathedral, from Church Street

Hereford became the seat of Putta, Bishop of Hereford, some time between AD 676 and 688, after which the settlement continued to grow due to its proximity to the border between Mercia and Wales, becoming the Saxon capital of West Mercia by the beginning of the 8th century.

Hostilities between the Anglo-Saxons and the Welsh came to a head with the Battle of Hereford in 760, in which the Britons freed themselves from the influence of the English. Hereford was again targeted by the Welsh during their conflict with the Anglo-Saxon King Edward the Confessor in AD 1056 when, supported by Viking allies, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, King of Gwynedd and Powys, marched on the town and put it to the torch before returning home in triumph. Hereford had the only mint west of the Severn in the reign of Athelstan (924–39), and it was to Hereford, then a border town, that Athelstan summoned the leading Welsh princes.

The present Hereford Cathedral dates from the early 12th century, as does the first bridge across the Wye. Former Bishops of Hereford include Saint Thomas de Cantilupe and Lord High Treasurer of England Thomas Charlton.

The city gave its name to two suburbs of Paris, France: Maisons-Alfort (population 54,600) and Alfortville (population 36,232), due to a manor built there by Peter of Aigueblanche, Bishop of Hereford, in the middle of the 13th century.

Hereford, a base for successive holders of the title Earl of Hereford, was once the site of a castle, Hereford Castle, which rivalled that of Windsor in size and scale. This was a base for repelling Welsh attacks and a secure stronghold for English kings such as King Henry IV when on campaign in the Welsh Marches against Owain Glyndŵr. The castle was dismantled in the 18th century and landscaped into Castle Green.

After the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1461, during the Wars of the Roses, the defeated Lancastrian leader Owen Tudor (grandfather of the future Henry VII of England) was taken to Hereford by Sir Roger Vaughan and executed in High Town. A plaque now marks the spot of the execution. Vaughan was later himself executed, under a flag of truce, by Owen's son Jasper.

The Old House, High Town, Hereford - geograph.org.uk - 11172
The Old House, High Town. This timber-framed Jacobean building, built in 1621, is now a museum.

During the civil war the city changed hands several times. On 30 September 1642 Parliamentarians led by Sir Robert Harley and Henry Grey, 1st Earl of Stamford occupied the city without opposition. In December they withdrew to Gloucester because of the presence in the area of a Royalist army under Lord Herbert. The city was again occupied briefly from 23 April to 18 May 1643 by Parliamentarians commanded by Sir William Waller but it was in 1645 that the city saw most action. On 31 July 1645 a Scottish army of 14,000 under Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven besieged the city but met stiff resistance from its garrison and inhabitants. They withdrew on 1 September when they received news that a force led by King Charles was approaching. The city was finally taken for Parliament on 18 December 1645 by Colonel Birch and Colonel Morgan. King Charles showed his gratitude to the city of Hereford on 16 September 1645 by augmenting the city's coat of arms with the three lions of Richard I of England, ten Scottish Saltires signifying the ten defeated Scottish regiments, a very rare lion crest on top of the coat of arms signifying "defender of the faith" and the even rarer gold-barred peer's helm, found only on the arms of one other municipal authority: those of the City of London.

Nell Gwynne, actress and mistress of King Charles II, is said to have been born in Hereford in 1650 (although other towns and cities, notably Oxford, also claim her as their own); Gwynn Street is named after her. Another famous actor born in Hereford is David Garrick (1717–1779).

The Bishop's Palace next to the Cathedral was built in 1204 and continually used to the present day. Hereford Cathedral School is also one of the oldest schools in England.

During World War I, in 1916, a fire at the Garrick Theatre killed eight young girls who had been performing at a charity concert.

Climate

As with all of the UK, Hereford experiences a maritime climate, with limited seasonal temperature ranges, and generally moderate rainfall throughout the year. The nearest Met Office weather station for which 30-year averages are available is Credenhill weather station, about 4 miles (6 km) north east of the city centre. Before 2001, the weather station at Preston Wynne (7 miles, 11 km to the north-east) provided the data.

Since 2001, extremes at Hereford Credenhill have ranged from 33.6 °C (92.5 °F) during July 2006, to as low as −15.8 °C (3.6 °F) during December 2010.

Transport

Railways in Hereford
BSicon .svg
Welsh Marches Line (S&HR)
BSicon .svg BSicon .svg ABZrg
Cotswold Line (OW&WR)
BSicon .svg
Hereford, Hay & Brecon Rly
exSTR BHF
Hereford Barrs Court
exBHF STR
Hereford Barton
exWBRÜCKE WBRÜCKE
River Wye
Rotherwas Junction
exSTR
Welsh Marches Line (NA&HR)
BSicon .svg exCONTf
Hereford, Ross & Gloucester Rly

Roads

There have been plans for many years for a north–south bypass and currently the plan is for a nine-mile (14 km) dual carriageway; however, HM Government as yet has refused to grant permission or supply funds. Until then the A49 Trunk Road, A465, and A438 continue to run through the city centre.

Rail

Hereford is served by a 4-platform railway station on the Welsh Marches Line which opened in 1854. Services regularly connect to Worcester, Birmingham, London, Manchester, Cardiff and other settlements in south Wales. The station is currently operated by Arriva Trains Wales. A second station, Hereford Barton, was closed and later redeveloped. A new station is proposed for construction in the government-designated Enterprise zone in Rotherwas, south of the River Wye.

Military associations

RAF Hereford was a non-flying station of the Royal Air Force located nearby to Hereford. It was the home of a wide variety of training schools from 1940 until it closed for RAF training in 1999. Subsequently, the Special Air Service (SAS) moved their base to there from its previous location in the city. There is a clocktower in Hereford where the names of deceased SAS soldiers are inscribed.

Regeneration

Many of the schools in Hereford have been rebuilt and improved. The Herefordshire and Ludlow College has also been rebuilt to a 21st-century standard. A new NMITE (New Model in Technology and Engineering) university is also planned, which will teach STEM subjects and is stated to open in 2016. There has also been a number of improvements at Hereford Sixth Form College, where a new business block extension was completed in 2013 and a new reception area was completed in 2015.

Hereford benefitted from the PFI reconstruction schemes for NHS hospitals, with the former County Hospital site having £60 million spent on a brand new, one-site hospital to replace the former 3 hospitals: the General, the Eye Hospital, and the County Hospital. The new Hereford County Hospital was the single largest investment in Herefordshire at that point. In 2015, further funds for more improvements at the hospital were granted.

Current and future projects

A major regeneration project is taking place in Hereford city centre, formerly known as the Edgar Street Grid. This covers an area of around 100 acres (0.40 km2) just north of the old city walls. Work started on 8 October 2012, and should take around 15 years to complete the whole project. The regeneration includes the rebuilding of the canal basin at the end of the currently disused Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal. The £80 million phase 1 includes a supermarket, department store, multiplex cinema, shops, restaurants, and other facilities and opened in late Spring 2014.

The Butter Market is also due for refurbishment and proposals are being examined.

A proposed bypass has been drawn up to circulate the city, which suffers from rush hour traffic, with potential routes either to the east or west of the city. Both routes would connect with the Rotherwas Access Road which was recently completed, connecting the Rotherwas Industrial Estate to the A49. Rotherwas itself has recently been awarded an Enterprise Zone status by the government which is expected to boost the economy and bring in thousands of new jobs.

A second railway station for Hereford has been discussed, which would be situated in Rotherwas as part of the Enterprise Zone.

Hereford is due to receive half of the 20,600 new homes expected to be built in the county by 2026 as part of the Regional Spatial Strategy.

Society and culture

Agriculture

Farming has played a major part in the history of the county of Herefordshire, and for many years the City of Hereford was the epicentre, playing host to the Cattle Market; a major market site.

With the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak the market suffered with trade reduced. Established by Act of Parliament, the market had to be provided, and so a Bill was introduced in 2003 to move the site to the outskirts of the city. The inner city site would then be available for redevelopment, a process that has now finished.

The new Hereford Cattle Market opened its doors in August 2011 on the site just outside the city and has already proved so successful that trading and business is up on the previous site's record.

Music

Elgar-Bicycle-Statue-by-Oliver-Dixon
Classical composer Sir Edward Elgar lived in Hereford from 1904 to 1911. His association with the city is commemorated with this statue on the Cathedral Close.

The annual Three Choirs Festival, originating in the 18th century and one of the oldest music festivals in the British Isles, is held in Hereford every third year, the other venues being Gloucester and Worcester.

Composer Sir Edward Elgar lived at Plas Gwyn in Hereford between 1904 and 1911, writing some of his most famous works during that time. He is commemorated with a statue on the Cathedral Close. One of his Enigma Variations was inspired by a bulldog named Dan falling into the River Wye at Hereford, and the dog is similarly honoured with a wooden statue beside the river.

Hereford is home to the Hereford Police Male Voice Choir who competed on the BBC TV show "Last Choir Standing", and the Railway Choir.

A charity music school is also based in Hereford.

Art

H.Art, or Herefordshire Art Week, is an annual county-wide exhibition held in September, displaying the work of local artists. Many places usually closed to the public are opened during this week, such as the Bishop's Palace at the Cathedral.

Polish-born sculptor Walenty Pytel has had studios in Hereford since 1963 after training at Hereford College of Art.

There is a statue of a Bronze Hereford bull designed by Brian Alabaster ARBS in front of The Old House

Literature

The troops of the fictional commando squad Rainbow were based at RAF Hereford, as detailed in the novel Rainbow Six.

The action of the fictional novels Shades of Grey and The last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde take place in Hereford.

Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series of supernatural and mystery novels is set in and around Hereford.

Comedy writer Aaron Gillies began writing using Twitter while working as a sound technician at The Courtyard.

Media

The local radio stations are Free Radio (formerly known as Wyvern FM) which broadcasts on 97.6-96.7-102.8 FM, Sunshine Radio on 106.2 FM, BBC Hereford and Worcester which broadcasts on 94.7FM.

Hereford is briefly mentioned, though mispronounced, in Ronin as a ploy by Sam (Robert De Niro) to expose Spence (Sean Bean) as a liar.

The City is mentioned in the video game Rainbow Six Vegas 2 and in the television show Peep Show.

The Hereford Times is the weekly newspaper. The 'Hereford Journal' ceased publication on 11 June 2014. The Hereford admag is a free title, delivered to households across the city and surrounding rural areas.

Local TV content is currently provided by BBC Midlands Today and ITV Central News.

Entertainment

The city's main theatre and cultural venue is the Courtyard Centre for the Arts which was opened in 1998, replacing the New Hereford Theatre.

There is also a multi screen Odeon cinema in the Old Market precinct.

MFA Bowl (formerly known as TGS, home to a Ten Pin Bowling alley and Mini Golf course is located near the railway station.

There is also a dedicated Skatepark on Holmer Road.

Famous people

Nell gwyn peter lely c 1675
Hereford claims to be the birthplace of Nell Gwyn, 17th-century actress and mistress of King Charles II of England.

John Kemble, Catholic priest and martyr, was born near Hereford.

Nell Gwyn, David Garrick and Sarah Siddons, actors and actresses, are all historical figures popularly associated with Hereford.

Major-General Stringer Lawrence, first commander-in-chief of British troops in India, under whose command Robert Clive served, was born in Hereford.

Broadcaster Gilbert Harding was born there when his father was master of the local workhouse, as was contemporary actress Beryl Reid.

The original lineup of The Pretenders, with the exception of lead singer Chrissie Hynde, were from Hereford, as were the rock band Mott the Hoople.

Frank Oz, puppeteer for The Muppets and Yoda of Star Wars was born in Hereford and lived there for the first five years of his life.

Footballer Connor Wickham was born in the city.

Ellie Goulding, pop singer and songwriter was born in Hereford.

Hereford is the current home of television personality, Wincey Willis.

The highwayman William Spiggot declared before his execution to the Ordinary's Accounts of Newgate Prison in London that he was the son of an innkeeper from Hereford.

Tourism and attractions

Hereford Mappa Mundi
Hereford Cathedral is home to the Hereford Mappa Mundi, a map of the known world from the late 13th century.

The Old House, Hereford is an historic black and white house in the centre of High Town in Hereford City. It is now a museum about life in the Jacobean era of the 1600s when it was built.

The Hereford Museum and Art Gallery, housed in a Victorian Gothic building and opened in 1874, presents artefacts, fine art, and decorative art associated with the local area.

The Hereford Cider Museum is in the City, with a shop, and an interactive guide to producing the drink. It is a registered Charity Trust founded in the early 1970s by people who wanted to record the past, and also the disappearing traditional art of cider making that had been practiced for generations on the farms in the "Cider Counties". Situated in an old cider factory, it opened in 1980 and 1981. In the spring/summer a Cider festival is held, started in the mid-1980s, by the Friends of the Museum with the advice of Long Ashton Research station near Bristol. It has a display of named cider apples, and the apples are pressed in the old way. The Museum holds in its Pomological Archive, a number of records pertaining to apples and cider.

Hereford Cathedral dates from 1079 and contains the Mappa Mundi, a medieval map of the world dating from the 13th century which was restored in the late 20th century. It also contains the world-famous Chained Library.

Holme Lacy House, now a hotel for a national chain, was built by John Scudamore in the 1500s. It has played host to famous historical figures in its time.

Twin towns

  • Germany Dillenburg, Germany
  • France Vierzon, France (since 1994)

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