Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hereford

A small group of us were invited to Hereford to visit hidden corners of the Cathedral in and around the private cloisters not generally open to the public. A further invitation was extended to visit the first floor of Hereford Library to see the private Woolhope Library belonging to the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club founded in 1851. The society is named after the Woolhope Dome, an outcrop of Silurian rocks a few miles outside Hereford. Sir James Rankin, a wealthy member of the club, offered to pay for Hereford's Public Library and Museum, and that is the reason why the club has its own room within the building. The frontage of the building is decorated with stone carvings showing fauna and flora reflecting James Rankin's interests. 
The Woolhope library has floor to ceiling shelves full of beautiful old leather bound books on many subjects including archaeology, geology, and natural history alongside a number of early manuscripts.
 via
Medlars and pears

Since Herefordshire was and is renowned for its cider and perry, an early project undertaken by the club was to document and conserve local apple and pear cultivars. To this end, the club held annual exhibitions of fruit from Herefordshire orchards, inviting leading pomologists to help identify them. These fruits were painted over a period of 10 years during the 1880s by Alice Blanche Ellis, who was a gold medal winner from the Bloomsbury School of Art, and Edith Elizabeth Bull.
Several varieties of pear

They were published in a series of books known as the Herefordshire Pomona - copies of which were on display for us to look at. The books show over 400 paintings which have been reproduced as hand-coloured lithographs. Limited editions of the catalogues were produced and they now make very large sums of money whenever they come up for sale.
Pears in the Herefordshire Pomona 
via
Whilst in the room my attention was drawn to a large black cast iron fireplace with beautiful monochrome tiles. I know nothing about the tiles, or who designed them. They were obviously made towards the end of the 19th century in the Art Nouveau style. This is pure conjecture on my part but I do wonder whether the tiles were painted by Edith Elizabeth Bull (one of the women painters of the Pomona). To my eye they carry the hallmarks of a woman's hand, and her links to Woolhope Club were particularly strong being the daughter of the Clubs President. This is just a very small selection of the tiles - they are suggestive of feminist ideals that spread amongst the educated female middle classes at that period which also happened to coincide with the women's suffragette movement. 
Painting
Commerce
Music
Chemistry
Literature
Geography
Natural History
No time to visit Hereford Cathedral's Mappa Mundi (World Map) created in the late 13th century, nor the famous Chained Library. The 16th century Chained Library is the largest of its kind in existence. In the Middle Ages books were so rare and valuable that they were often chained for safe keeping. In 1217 Henry lll revised the Magna Carta. There are only four copies now known to exist, and one of them is housed in the cathedral library. There is also a very precious 8th century illuminated manuscript known as the Hereford Gospels, but all these must wait for another visit. 
Hereford Cathedral cloisters, gardens, and houses used by the Bishop, Dean, and clergy
The name Pomona refers to the Roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and orchards.

74 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary:
    This post strikes a particular chord with us as we were for many, many years members of the Woolhope Club and attended numerous lectures in that very Library. Indeed we were constantly amused in our younger days to note the numbers of members who, cocooned in the warmth of the room on a winter's afternoon, would immediately drop off to sleep as soon as the lights were put out to show the lecturer's lantern slides.
    Alas, we do not know the provenance of the tiles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jane and Lance - I wonder just how many people reading this post will have even heard of the Woolhope Club let alone been members? Your return to the blogosphere was a timely one.

      Delete
  2. What an interesting visit to Hereford, Rosemary. I love botanical prints, and the pears are absolutely superb. Those tiles are such fun; very feisty feminist women in Art Nouveau style, they must look stunning on the fireplace. I do hope you find out about the artist. Thank you for another great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Patricia - I have endeavoured to research the tiles on the internet with no luck whatsoever. I found them very attractive and did wonder about the story behind them. I am also a fan of the Art Nouveau style.

      Delete
  3. Very nice these faces.

    Greetings,
    Filip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The faces are very much in keeping with the period at the end of the 19th century plus their subject matter interested me too.

      Delete
  4. What a fantastic things you always have to share Rosemary. I can imagine you were facenated by the tile's they are so gorgeous.
    Have a wonderful sunday Rosemary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Marijke - I am pleased that you liked the tiles too - I thought that they were very unusual and not what you would expect to see in a fire surround.

      Delete
  5. So exciting you saw a fireplace with such an extra-ordinary tiles, never seen something like that. The Herefordshire Pomona botanical paintings are beautiful too. For five years we were on holidays in the Wye valley and also visited Hereford. Highlights were the Cathedral with the Mappa Mundi, but also the cattlemarket was great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am delighted that you know the area and have in fact visited Hereford and the cathedral. I have not visited the cattle-market but can well imagine how lively it is especially when they are auctioning off Hereford cattle and bulls, which are very majestic animals.

      Delete
  6. Hello Rosemary, I am sure that I would have spent a lot of time examining those pomological illustrations. I wonder if the museum has any of the original paintings, or just the lithographs. In a similar vein, are all these fruit varieties still represented in Herefordshire, or at Brogdale?

    The tiles are quite charming. Natural History has the most personality--the lady and the snake skeleton seem equally intent on studying each other.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jim - I am aware that many of the original paintings can be seen in The Cider Museum, Hereford. Lots of heirloom fruit trees must have been lost during the 19th century in Hereford when many people abandoned their orchards to go and work in the new industries. Brogdale actually holds the national collection of fruit trees, in fact it has the biggest collection in the world. How do you know about Brogdale?
      I am pleased that you liked the tiles - I too thought that they were charming.

      Delete
  7. Dear Rosemary,
    thank you! I only knew that Pete Farndon (founder of 'The Pretenders') came from Heresford.
    Isn't it a wonderous and absolutely diligent work by the two women, to draw all those sorts of apples and pears, so exact (but better) as a photograph. Such an admirable work!
    The first drawing teaches me that we have a very old medlar-tree at Schloss Charlottenburg - I always wondered what these fruits were. Modern pomologist in Germany once met in Bremen, soon after we bought our Art Deco House in Hildesheim, and they were not able to name the sort of appletree I had in there, tthe tree very old, the apples eatable only in deep winter (before I thought: oh, cooking applse - but it wasn't, they were delicious - covered with a big cover of natural apple-wax - if this word exists).
    Hope they prolonged the seeds - because the old tree died now, though a tree surgeon tried to save it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky you Britta owning an Art Deco house - another period and style that I love.
      There is an old lady lives near to us, she has an apple tree that is always laden with beautiful very big apples, but they have no taste whatsoever. Now I am wondering whether hers too, were like yours, and needed to be eaten during the mid-winter.

      Delete
  8. How lovely to get these glimpses of some hidden corners of Hereford, a place I love. You were fortunate to have these invitations, Rosemary, so thank you for sharing the treasures you saw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We would not normally have known about these hidden gems in the private Woolhope Library so do feel fortunate to have been invited to visit Perpetua.

      Delete
  9. What a lovely town to visit. The cathedral must be magnificent. These drawings of fruits are so beautiful. The town looks very Spring with its bloom of flowers now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Pamela - I must not deceive you into thinking that it more spring like here than it is - these photos were taken last year. I love the botanical paintings of the fruits and would happily have them hanging on my walls.

      Delete
  10. Such an impressive building Rosemary! I always enjoy walks like this when you see and hear things that are special. The cathedral has some lovely gardens too. Glad you enjoyed your visit!

    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog too! It's always a joy to read.

    Wishing you a lovely week!

    Madelief x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Madelief - the Cathedral gardens actually run down to the River Wye which make a lovely backdrop for both the Catherdal and the gardens - I do hope that they have not suffered any flooding this past few weeks.
      For me, visiting your blog is always both a pleasure and an inspiration.

      Delete
  11. Dear Rosemary,

    I've been reading the other comments on this posting, and I see from your reply to Jim that some fuit trees may have been lost or endangered. That in turn makes me think about the sad state of the Bee Kingdom! I'm so glad that you've taken up some of the slack.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mark - so far the little bee chalet nor the bee skep have been put in the garden - I am waiting for the warmer weather, may be about 4 weeks time. I am hopeful that some will take up residence.

      Delete
  12. What a lovely visit! It is so nice to be able to see the little corners and places that are not normally open to everyone isn't it! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had no idea before our visit to the private Woolhope Library what treasures they had in their upstairs room within the public library - it was a memorable treat.

      Delete
  13. Beautiful! For some reason, reminds me of Ravensmere in Liz Berry's The China Garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Herefordshire countryside would be a perfect setting for Ravensmere.

      Delete
  14. What a lovely place and such beautiful paintings and tiles - I will definitely be adding this to my list of places to visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never seen a fireplace with such unusual tiles before - I real feel that their must be a story behind them.

      Delete
  15. Love those tiles...all telling a story , love those botanical paintings too...flawless , definitely a place that holds a lot of interest . Have a nice start of week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing the tiles and also the botanical paintings Jane.

      Delete
  16. The art of the fruit so beautiful, it's as if I could take a pick off your post :)
    Tiles like that I have never seen..always learning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a friend who is a botanical artists and she paints using a magnifying glass.

      Delete
  17. Thank you for sharing these hidden treasures with us and how lovely that you had the opportunity to visit both. Beautiful photos.
    Patricia x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Patricia - I was very taken with the botanical paintings and also the tiles on the fireplace.

      Delete
  18. Dear Rosemary,what an interesting post!What a lovely place to visit too!!Beautiful pictures!Lovely gardens and amazing paintings!Wish you a happy new week!
    Dimi...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Dimi - pleased that you enjoyed seeing the paintings, and hope you enjoy a lovely week too.

      Delete
  19. What a wonderful opportunity to view such treasures! Thanks for sharing the privilege with us :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When we set off we had no idea what was in store for us within the Woolhope library.

      Delete
  20. It must have been painstaking, disciplined work to paint those botanical specimens. Intriguing to think that perhaps one of the talented artists also painted the tiles depicting the women with such expressive faces.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The tiles were really interesting, I have never seen anything similar to them before.

      Delete
  21. Another enlightening post full of beautiful pics - thanks for sharing all this history. Pears are one of my favorite fruits, especially love baking them into cakes, soaking them in wine, and just biting into a prefect ripe one!
    Thanks dear for stopping by and leaving such a sweet comment.
    Mary X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, pears are delicious both raw and cooked. A bit of an under-rated fruit.
      Lovely to hear from you Mary, and pleased to learn that things are beginning to warm up with you too.

      Delete
  22. I have always liked still life pictures and this collection are wonderful. My niece is marrying near Hereford in the summer and we are hoping to spend a short time if we can in Hereford. I will have to look out for the library and examine the frontage of the building. I don't know if you noticed me reply the films you mentioned are on you tube. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Sarah - the library is across the road from the Cathedral so easy to find.
      Thank you very much for that information, I may be tempted to watch it tonight.

      Delete
  23. The tiles with the woman heads are verry beautiful.
    the last photo's with the cathedral are verry nice...what a nice buildings you let see us.
    Have a good Week Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am pleased that you liked seeing the tiles Inge - I think they are lovely too.

      Delete
  24. Dear Rosemary, I love those botanical paintings. Those pears invite to taste them... Funny tiles!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It must be lovely to be able to paint so beautifully.

      Delete
  25. Hi Rosemary, the building is quite lovely. The tiles most unusual. Thank you for your kind comment, Olive

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Olive - hope things are now improving for you weatherwise.

      Delete
  26. I have often wished to have a town brought to life by such a tour which opens up the social and historical context. Your pictures are wonderful and your text so informative, thank you Rosemary.

    I have dedicated a whole chapter to Pomona in my thesis writing but concentrate on seventeenth-century French apples and pears instead!

    Those Art Nouveau tiles are amazing, aren't they?

    Stephanie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Stephanie - delighted that this post struck a chord with you - could it be possible that one day we might see a Mademoiselle Pomona?
      Yes, I loved the tiles and what they represent.
      Thank you for your visit and kind comment.

      Delete
  27. How interesting to read about the Library and its contents.
    History is so exciting. To visit these places Rosemary, even more. To be able to see them and walk through the grounds where learned people walked.
    The paintings are just perfect of the Pomona.
    I noticed there is chicken wire over some plants in one of the photos. I was wondering if that was to keep birds away! The building itself is very attractive.
    How I would have loved to see this lovely place.
    Thank you Rosemary.
    The tiles, I agree are painted with a feminine touch. Very interesting indeed.
    lovely post.
    val x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you must be right about the protection being to keep the birds off Val. It looks like chicken wire but is actually a fine plastic mesh - I must see if I can find any in the shops as it would be quite useful in the garden.
      Glad you enjoyed seeing a little bit of Herefords hidden corners.

      Delete
  28. Your writing is a fond reminder of a brief stop in Herefordshire with my daughter back in 2007! We never made it to see the Mappa Mundi either. We enjoyed a walk down the quaint main street for a quick lunch and my purchase of some Clarke's shoes (which is timely, as I wore them yesterday!). We made it to the cathedrale and gift shop then spent the remaining time wandering around the outside of the church for me to admire the lush landscaping and on the diagonal paths that led to the river before we had to leave in order to make it to our final destination of a B&B near the Wye village that is all bookstores - do you know the one I mean ? The name escapes me at the moment?

    The eyes of the women on the tiles are fascinating, aren't they. Botanical prints always catch my eye, but yours today of the pears and your mention above in a previous response to a comment about wine-soaked pears is also coincidental. Just minutes ago I was reading David Leibovitz's blog and he had just made a "tarte tatin" but with wine-soaked pears! Pears are abundantt here is Oregon and I might have one with my lunch, shortly!

    I always love reading your blog, Rosemary, as you and I seem to have similar likes in traveling. I had not known about the Woolhope library but hopefully on my return to Herefordshire I may be able to visit there as well as finally see the famous map!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such an interesting comment Mary - thank you, and delighted that this post reminded you of your own visit to Hereford.
      Yes, I know well the place you were trying to think of, it is Hay-on-Wye. Every summer they have the most wonderful literary festival with lots of top authors talking about their latest books, and poetry readings etc.
      The idea of using pears soaked in wine instead of caramelised apples does sound very appealing.
      I must have a look at his blog.

      Delete
  29. I meant to say "brief stop in Hereford" !

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is lovely - I hope we can visit soon. I have to say the tiles must be unique. I've seen many antique fireplaces, and many more tiles, but never any like these. I think you may well be right about the artist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My feelings were that they had been made especially for that room and that fireplace - I loved seeing them, and wished I had photographed a few more.

      Delete
  31. A beautiful place full of treasures, lovely old books, paintins and tiles. Thank you, for sharing, Rosemary !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting Dani - glad you enjoyed seeing the paintings and tiles.

      Delete
  32. I've long wanted to visit Hereford Cathedral (and to see the Mappa Mundi), but I didn't know that there were so many other fascinating things to see there, so I've loved discovering about them. Having a special look around areas not normally open to the public sounds wonderful. I imagine the tiles do have an interesting story behind them, too. Beautiful photos of a lovely place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had no idea about these extra little treasures in Hereford until our visit. Now I know about the Herefordshire Pomona I have found it keeps cropping up in other circumstances - isn't that just the way thing are.

      Delete
  33. Dear Rosemary,
    Hello hello! What a treat to come back to your beautiful blog and see this post-- absolutely wonderful! I particularly enjoyed the imagery on those tiles... Wouldn't it be wonderful to design a frieze or fireplace surround with tiles like these celebrating the arts and sciences?! Perhaps a call to Gina is in order....:)
    Warm regards,
    Erika

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Erika - how really lovely to hear from you - I am sure that you are still extremely busy, which is a good thing for you and your company.
      I loved the unique tiles Erika but wished that I had photographed a few more of them. I do feel that they are conveying a strong underlying message about women at that time.

      Delete
  34. I am very envious of this visit as books are my first love and as an ex librarian this would have been such a treat. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Linda - I do consider that we were very fortunate to see the Herefordshire Pomona and learn all about it and how it came about.
      Although the Woolhope library is private, it might be possible to have a look in it if someone is present from the club - that is if you should ever find yourself in Hereford.

      Delete
    2. Something I will bear in mind, thanks Rosemary. :)

      Delete
  35. I do love the city of Hereford, and in particular the Cathedral. AGA have spent many happy hours there. How lovely to be asked on private tour of little name corners!
    I like the way they have restored the shrine of St Thomas de Cantilupe.
    As for those tiles, I am sure that I have seem some illustrations or some such things that were similar in style and design. You say Art Nouveau but I seem to be thinking Arts and Craft although I don't know why.
    Kirk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Kirk - you are right of course - one mans Art Nouveau is another mans Arts and Craft. How to decide that is the question. Both operating at around the same period and both using sinuous lines and graceful curves. The ladies reminded me of pre-raphalites with their loose flowing locks. In the end I decided instinctively that they were Art Nouveau, but I think it is equally likely that you are correct in saying that they are Arts and Crafts.

      Delete
  36. Thank you, Rosemary, for sharing your honor and good luck to be invited to the Hereford Museum and Library. I didn’t know Hereford at all and therefore such a hidden place of Hereford. I like the impressive architecure and my attention also would be caught by the monochrome tiles of a female with academic interests if I’m there in person. Talking of a pear, I like the taste of Western pear. Have you eaten Japanese pear of which shape is round like an apple? Recently I learned it is called “nashi” in Japanese in Britain and Germany.

    Yoko

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Yoko - I have seen the Japanese pears but never tasted one - I wonder if they taste the same?
      Glad you enjoyed seeing the Library in Hereford - my attention was really caught by the tiles and I wish that I had photographed more of them. The interesting thing is that they must have been painted, by women I feel, at the time of the suffragettes and the emancipation of women.

      Delete

❖PLEASE NOTE❖ Comments made by those who hide their identity will be deleted

“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh