I have written about Hereford, England’s Black and White House and its Cathedral with the awe-inspiring Mappa Mundi and chained library, but I have otherwise neglected it as a worthwhile destination. It eminently is and is also full of constant surprises. Both the house and the cathedral are commendable stops in “The Rural City” where history is very much part of the scene, so I must make my rural England loving readers aware that this is an underrated destination with 4 unusual aspects.
A stroll up Widemarsh street is rewarding. Before that famous date in invasion history 1066, this city was already a capital, the main town in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. As a populated area, it actually goes back to the Iron Age. As the commercial town on the Wye River developed, Widemarsh Street led to one of this town’s six city gates. Today Widemarsh Street gets interesting just past the butter market and continues to yield glimpses of the past for several blocks. Those blocks are now a mix of modern and very old, like an English Baroque Mansion dating from 1697, some contemporary shops in historic buildings, and what’s left of the Blackfriar’s Priory that is now a fine rose garden.
The Butter Market is a 19th century walk through a series of fun stalls that remind visitors that Hereford has traditionally been a market town in the center of an agricultural region known for cider, fruit, and cattle.
My favorite attraction in Hereford besides the massive cathedral turned out to be the singular Cafe at All Saints. Odd but it works, this medieval church down a pedestrian street from the Black & White House and the Butter Market that sells far more than butter doubles as a fine restaurant. We ate there twice because it was so unique and tasty. In addition to concerts and church services, All Saints opens as a restaurant on Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm and remains a church that has a major service on Sunday morning. That church is available to diners daily during restaurant hours too. This has worked for 23 years.
Another aspect of Hereford that appealed to me was its Polish population. Further down the same street are a few businesses that cater to the Polish families that came to live in England and tend to the apple trees that produce a variety of hard ciders that this part of England has become known for.