We have been working with Professor Catherine Clarke on the St Thomas Way project, a new heritage tourism trail from Swansea to Hereford. The website will launch on Saturday 7 July alongside the launch event here at the cathedral. With so much interest in the project already, Professor Clarke has shared four teaser articles with us to give more background to the project.

Meet St Thomas of Hereford

He was a lawyer, an academic, a politician, a bishop – and, after his death, a saint. But what was Thomas of Hereford really like?

Thomas’s servant, Hugh le Barber, was interviewed after his master’s death about what he was like as a man. He reveals some interesting personal details.

Hugh says that Thomas was elegant and dressed richly, with a mantle, fur garments and other rich clothing, and he had beautiful palfreys (horses) for riding. But Hugh also comments that Thomas’s clothes and bedding were riddled with lice. He explains that, under his splendid clothes, Thomas secretly wore a rough hair belt, infested with lice, to torment and chasten his body.

According to Hugh, Thomas was of good character. He disliked bawdy songs and smutty jokes so much ‘that it was said of him that he ought to have been a woman, not a man’. He disapproved of lies and slander, and never got drunk. He diluted his wine with water, to make it less luxurious, but was fond of eel pie. He was ‘as meek and gentle as a lamb’, but could be tough, too: Hugh had personally seen over twenty weapons which Thomas had confiscated from unruly students while he was Chancellor of Oxford University. Hugh describes Thomas as a ‘peacemaker’, but also acknowledges his conflicts with Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, and John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury (which led to Thomas’s excommunication). Thomas of Hereford was no two-dimensional saint, but a real man whose life reveals complexities, tensions and puzzles.

The St Thomas Way will launch here at Hereford Cathedral on Saturday 7 July with a day of fun, free activities. To find out more about the event click here.To keep up to date with the latest news you can follow the project on Twitter @StThomasWay