Hereford Cathedral

Top choice in The Midlands & the Marches

After Welsh marauders torched the original Saxon cathedral, the Norman rulers of Hereford erected a larger, grander cathedral on the same site. The building was subsequently remodelled in a succession of medieval architectural styles.

The signature highlight is the magnificent Mappa Mundi, a single piece of calfskin vellum intricately painted with some rather fantastical assumptions about the layout of the globe in around 1290. The same wing contains the world's largest surviving chained library of rare manuscripts manacled to the shelves.

The cathedral also has one of the four surviving copies of the 1217 Magna Carta, although it's not always on display.

Heated by four impressive Gurney stoves, the magnificent cathedral comes alive with evensong, and every three years in August it holds the famous Three Choirs Festival (, shared with Gloucester and Worcester Cathedrals.

The cloisters shelter an atmospheric cafe.

Schedules for 45-minute cathedral tours (per person £5) are posted on the website. Weather permitting, there are also scheduled tower tours (adult/child £5/3) scaling 218 steps; kids must be aged over eight.

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