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A Summary of Archive Sources

Lists and indexes of all archive holdings are available in hard copy and electronically in the reading room.

A calendar of most of the medieval material with some later items is available online in digitised form on the National Register of Archives web pages.  This can be found at


Select Corporate Name and search under Hereford Dean and Chapter.  The collection reference is NRA 6186.  There is an additional item for the list of accounts and manorial court rolls 1270-1755 referenced ACCOUNT ROLLS.


NB part of list 7 and list 8 are of an early Historical Manuscripts Commissions Survey of the archives, many of the reference numbers are now obsolete.


Magna Carta

The Cathedral holds one of the four surviving copies of the 1217 issue of Magna Carta (HCA 1516), as well as the unique and only surviving copy of the ‘King’s Writ’ (HCA  2256) – the Writ was issued at Runnymede a few days after the terms for Magna Carta were agreed by King John in June 1215.


Further information and translations are available.


Cathedral Endowment
Charters, deeds and leases of cathedral endowments from the 11th century to date.
Most of the earliest charters from c. 1070 - 1500 (Ref nos HCA1–3250) were calendared by the National Library of Wales in the 1950s. This calendar is also available at the National Register of Archives and will shortly be available on line.

The principal endowment of the cathedral was income derived from four manors granted before the conquest: Canon Pyon, Norton Canon, Woolhope, Preston on Wye.

Manorial records (court rolls, accounts and rentals) for all of these manors survive from the 13th to the 20th centuries.

Other income was received from additional cathedral properties mainly in the city of Hereford and its hinterland. Accounts for these 'common rents' survive from the 13th to the 20th centuries
There were also 28 prebends which provided income for each of the cathedral clergy. The income for these derived from properties in a diverse number of parishes often associated with the title of the prebend e.g. Bartonsham, Huntington, Withington and Wellington.

The four cathedral dignities, Dean, Chancellor, Treasurer, Precentor had additional endowments specifically attached to their office.

Dean – includes property in Breinton, Withington and Allensmore
Chancellor – includes property and right of visitation for Little Hereford and Ashford Carbonel, Shropshire
Treasurer – includes property in Breinton, Church Street, Hereford, advowsons of Bartonsham and Bockleton, Worcestershire
Precentor – includes property in Tupsley, advowsons of Walford and Ruarden, Gloucestershire
Manorial, tithe and lease records survive for all of these endowments in varying quantities from the 14th to the 20th centuries


Cathedral Administration
Cathedral Statutes 13th century, 1583, 1636, 1937, 1966, 2000. These are governing regulations concerning clergy duties and appointments, cathedral endowments, services, library and school.


Chapter Act books 1512 – date. Minutes of chapter meetings, recording appointments(bishop, dean, dignities, prebendaries, organists, choristers, vicars choral, vergers, schoolmaster, sextons etc,) and appointments to benefices within the chapter's patronage, leases and decisions of chapter.


Accounts of the administration, including fabric, claviger( ‘key holder’ recording general cathedral business), library, canon's bakehouse, from the 13th century to date. Survival of fabric and claviger are scant before 1660.


College of Vicars Choral
The vicars choral were perpetual vicars required to be present and perform all the services in the choir. They lived a collegiate life in a cloistral range south of the cathedral which included accommodation, a chapel, library, hall and domestic offices. Chartered as a college in 1395, it was formally discontinued in 1937 and its property and assets added to those of the cathedral.
The college owned considerable property throughout the city and other parishes.
The records include act books, accounts, rentals , leases and deeds from the 16th century to 1937.

There are also biographies of all vicars choral from 1660 to 1823 compiled by Revd William Cooke in the mid-19th century.


Dean's Peculiar Jurisdiction
The following parishes were within the Dean's jurisdiction:
Blakemere with Preston on Wye

Eaton Bishop
Hampton Bishop
Hereford - St John, St Martin and All Saints, St Nicholas, St Owen, St Peter, Holmer
Moreton Jeffries
Norton Canon
Canon Pyon
Withington with Preston Wynne

The records comprise:

Court Act books 1592–1717

Case papers, mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries. Cases usually testamentary (inventories often included), defamation or disputes about allocation of pews.

Marriage bonds and allegations 1605–1942

Visitation books 1679–1754

Call and subscription books, 1671–1845

Other occasional survivals – tuition bonds, licences for midwives, schoolmasters and surgeons, recusancy returns from the 17th and 18th centuries (Deanery Will registers 1649-1858 are available on microfilm. The originals are held by Herefordshire Archive Service)




Cathedral Registers
Registers of baptisms,(1813–1916) marriages (1686–1754) and burials (1813 to date) A database of burials 1685-1813 is available reconstructed from burial payments 


St John's Parish
St John's parish worshiped in a designated space within the cathedral building but was distinct from the cathedral clergy and services. The vicar of St John was usually appointed from among the Vicars Choral. Churchwardens and other parish officers were appointed at the annual vestry meeting. In 1919 the boundaries of the parish were reduced to the immediate area of the cathedral and from that date the Dean has been appointed vicar of St John. On 1 June 2012 the parish was dissolved and the entire area of St John's parish became extra parochial. Registers of baptisms, and marriages (1604 – date) and burials (1604–1919),
Vestry & PCC minutes 1824–2000, Churchwardens' accounts 1917–44
Poor rate books 1835–58, other parish papers 1680–1996

Charities administered by the Dean and Chapter include 


St Ethelbert's Hospital, Hereford – deeds and leases from 1230 to date
Property mostly in Hereford or neighbouring parishes, Holmer, Marden, Sutton, Clehonger

St Katherine's Hospital, Ledbury – deeds and leases and administrative papers from 1240 to date. Property mostly in Ledbury and surrounds


Also Tomson's, Cope's, Howell's and Croft's charities


Hereford Cathedral School
References to the school are mainly in the Chapter Acts which include Headmaster's reports from the 19th century. Some other records for the school survive from the 17th to the 20th centuries


Three Choirs Festival
Minutes of the Hereford standing committee 1935–80
Printed programmes 1867,1900, 1908 to date
Newspapers reports and other ephemera. 


The archives include over 1000 maps including tithe maps and schedules for cathedral, vicars choral and charity properties - mainly late 18th to 20th century
Also printed county maps, 1604–1835

Deposited records
The cathedral archive will accept material of direct relevance to the cathedral eg personal papers of former canons, organists etc. Most of the deposits are small but there are two significant deposits as follows:


Records of St Michael's Tenbury 1852–1982
This was a choral college set up by Sir Frederick Ouseley, precentor of the cathedral (1855–89), to promote and revive sung services and the English choral tradition


Records of Hereford Choral Society 1836 to date