BEDM: Local History

For this (rescheduled) post I've mixed it up a little bit. George from Caramel Latte Kiss and I are real life friends, in fact we were real life friends before discovering either of us were bloggers. Since then she has become one of my favourite blog buddies, we even attended the first Blognix together in secret - though that is a different story all together!

In an odd twist of life choices George now lives in Coventry, the city I grew up in, and I live in Hereford, where she grew up. Over cocktails and burgers last week we both admitted to not being particularly fired up about discovering our local history for this post so we swapped. George told me about Hereford and I told her about Coventry. You can find my post here, and here is hers:

Hereford is a much older city than it appears (as we’ve successfully flattened a lot of the oldest parts, like the castle and the city walls). Hereford was a Saxon city (its name is Saxon for a place where the soldiers crossed the river) and for a while was the capital of West Mercia, making it an important and busy place during England’s wars with Wales. A lot of Herefordshire has very sounding Welsh place names, which shows the shifting borders and confusion of land ownership in its early history.

Hereford Castle once rivalled Windsor in size, and was an essential stronghold for keeping the Welsh at bay. It was often used as a base by English kings when on campaign in the Welsh Marches. Unfortunately, nothing is left of the castle now, after it was dismantled in the 18th century.

Hereford pops up in other important moments in history too. Owen Tudor, after being defeated at the Battle of Mortimore’s Cross was executed in Hereford,  and there’s a plague in high-town to mark the spot (mmm, grisly!). During the Civil War, the city changed hands several times before being finally taken for Parliament in 1645. To show his gratitude, King Charles gave us a pretty fancy coat of arms, with the three lions of Richard I of England, ten Scottish Saltires, a lion crest and a peer’s helm.

Hereford’s history of being squabbled over gives it some great urban myths; my favourite is a classic one that we seem to share with a lot of towns that border Wales. Legend has it that you can legally shoot a Welshman with a longbow within Cathedral Close on a Sunday. Chester has a very similar legend about shooting a Welshman with a bow and arrow within the city walls after midnight. Better be careful when you choose to talk about Hereford’s history with Wales…

1 comment:

Caramel Latte Kiss said...

That statue will never cease to be hilarious in an entirely childish manner. and not just from all my drunken friends who've tried to climb it.


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