Friends’ Diary: Herefordshire, May 22

Barbara Henderson reports on a very successful Friends’ visit to Ledbury, Hereford and Hoarwithy…

by Barbara Henderson – Friends of the RWA Committee: Trips and Visits

This visit took place on May 12th. We were glad to see it happen after two postponements, the first being a few days before the first lockdown, the second being postponed owing to the cathedral becoming unavailable on the proposed date. So it was a case of third time lucky! And lucky we were: the trip proved extremely popular and the weather was good.

The first stop after leaving Bristol was Ledbury, to visit a sixteenth century painted room in the upstairs  room of a timber-framed house in Church Street This was stunning and the paintings were in very good condition. Discovered thirty years ago during restoration,they have proved to be one of the best examples of Elizabethan Wall Painting as yet discovered. The designs in the main pattern are floral and based on the Elizabethan Knot Gardens, incorporating biblical texts.  

The Market House, Ledbury
The painted room Ledbury – also top

We were also shown around the seventeenth century Market Hall next to the Painted Room. Others visited The Butcher’s Row House – a delightful local heritage museum  and the wonderful Malthouse Café and Gallery, both very near the Painted Room . Also, within walking distance,  Ledbury boasts a medieval parish church: St Michael’s, independent shops and a variety of heritage buildings.

After we left Ledbury we were driven to Hereford Cathedral where we were able to take advantage of tours offered around the Mappa Mundi, (self-guided) the rest of the Cathedral (“the excellent guide … combined deep love and knowledge with humour and sensitivity”) and the amazing Cathedral Gardens which were a particular highlight.. Some of us were also able to visit nearby places such as Hereford Museum, the Francis Xavier Catholic Church, the Black and White House Museum, and All Saints Church where the café provides excellent lunches.

Mappa Mundi – Hereford cathedral

On the way back from Hereford we were driven to the village of Hoarwithy, a few miles away. The drive was beautiful; gorgeous countryside with views, to the West, of the Black Mountains and Hay Bluff. Up a steep slope was St Catherine’s, the Parish church(1878). Far from Victorian Gothic, the design is eclectic, incorporating a range of styles, notably Italian Romanesque and Byzantine. There is even a Burne Jones window. Most welcome was the tea and coffee we were given on our arrival and the fascinating talk about the church and its history, both courtesy of the Church warden and his wife.    

Pictures from St Catherine’s, Hoarwithy



Next time why not join us on one of our trips? See how to join the Friends of the RWA below…

The Friends of the RWA is an independent charity that supports the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol’s first art gallery. 
For just £35 a year Friends can make unlimited visits to RWA exhibitions and enjoy a host of other benefits, as well as making an important contribution to the arts in Bristol and the South West. Find out more and join up here.


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