Herefordshire Places of Worship

Cathedral Church of St Mary & St Ethelbert, Hereford (1) (39k) Cathedral Church of St Mary & St Ethelbert, Hereford (2) (33k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Rosemary Lockie
Cathedral Church of St Mary & St Ethelbert, Hereford
Cathedral Church of St Mary & St Ethelbert,
Church Street,
Hereford, Herefordshire.


This Church has (or had) a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded before 825, and we understand it is still open.

"Previous to the erection of the present edifice, more than one large church had already at various times existed in Hereford. So early as the reign of Offa, King of Mercia, a church stood here, which was afterwards pulled down by Milfred, a governor of Mercia, in the reign of Egbert, to give place to a more imposing edifice. Concerning the erection of this second church, tradition has handed down the following account:-

Offa having, at the instigation of his wife, murdered Ethelbert, King of the West Angles, in expiation of his crime caused Ethelbert's remains to be deposited in the church at Hereford, and erected a tomb over them, at the same time making large donations to the church. On becoming Governor of Mercia, hearing that miracles had been performed at Ethelbert's tomb, and satisfied with the results of his inquiries as to their genuineness, Milfred resolved upon erecting a new church in place of the old one, for which purpose he made a large addition to the valuable treasures which the church had already acquired from the munificence of Offa and the offerings of the numerous pilgrims who resorted hither.

This church was completed in 825. After the lapse of 200 years, Milfred's church had fallen into decay. Athelstan, Bishop of Hereford, commenced the erection of a new one, which was completed about 1030. This church was destroyed by Gryffyth in 1055. After the destruction of Athelstan's church, the present cathedral was commenced by Bishop Robert, of Lorraine, and completed by Bishop Raynelm about the year 1115." [Source: The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland, 1868. Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003. Note: most other sources say Ethelbert was king of the East Angles]

The following information about the Church has been provided to accompany the photographs on the right. A list of people who have supplied the information is included in the Acknowledgements, below.

[Image 1] The Cathedral Church in Hereford is dedicated to St Ethelbert, formerly King of the East Angles, who was murdered in 793 by Quendreda the wife of Offa, King of Mercia. Ethelbert had sought Offa's daughter's hand in marriage, and it is said that Offa suffered remorse for the crime, or perhaps more practically, sought dispensation from the Pope for what he and his wife had done. His 'penance' resulted in him arranging for Ethelbert's remains, which had been buried at Marden, to be removed to Hereford, and thereafter spending considerable sums of money towards enriching the Cathedral in Ethelbert's memory.

Littlebury's Directory and Gazetteer of Herefordshire, 1876-7][1]

[Image 2] The approach to the Cathedral from St Nicholas's Street, looking towards King Street. On the building wall on the left, above the red phone box is a circular blue sign saying the property is “The Orange Tree”, but underneath it is a ‘For Sale’ sign. The sign on the pavement in the foreground advertises Mortimers Solicitors.

This spot must have been where the original St Nicholas's church once stood - at the head of King street, in the centre of St. Nicholas square, and demolished in 1840 - according to Littlebury's Directory of Herefordshire, 1876-7.[1]


Now or formerly Church of England.

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.


This Church is located at OS grid reference SO5099639781. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:


A special thanks to the following people who have contributed information for this web page:

1. Information provided by Rosemary Lockie.

Information last updated on 5 Dec 2018 at 14:35.

Search for other Places of Worship in Herefordshire

Search Tips:

You can specify either a Place, or OS Grid Reference to search for. When you specify a Place, only entries for that place will be returned, with Places of Worship listed in alphabetical order. If you specify a Grid Reference, Places of Worship in the immediate vicinity will be listed, in order of distance from the Grid Reference supplied. The default is to list 10, but you can specify How Many you want to see, up to a maximum of 100.

You can further refine your search by supplying other search terms.

Please note the above provides a search of selected fields in the Herefordshire section of the Places of Worship Database on this site ( only. For other counties, or for a full search of the Database, you might like to try the site's Google Custom Search, which includes full webpage content.

Further Information

This site provides historical information about churches, other places of worship and cemeteries. It has no affiliation with the churches or congregations themselves, nor is it intended to provide a means to find places of worship in the present day.

Please also remember that whilst the above account may suggest that Cathedral Church of St Mary & St Ethelbert remains open and accessible, this may not remain so.

Do not copy any part of this page or website other than for personal use or as given in our Terms and Conditions of Use.

You may wish to take a look at our About the Places of Worship Database page for an overview of the information provided, and any limitations which may be present.

This Report was created 10 Jul 2021 - 21:25:25 BST from information held in the Herefordshire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 7 Feb 2019 at 13:34.

URL of this page:
Logo by courtesy of the Open Clip Art Library