Laden with Fruit, the latest exhibition in the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library, celebrates the bounty of fruit at Hereford Cathedral alongside a display of contemporary artwork.

Laden with Fruit showcases literal and symbolic fruits in the cathedral’s collections using items including the Victorian Herefordshire Pomona and 15th century cider Bible. The exhibition also features new artwork, The Presence of Plants, by Jeanette McCulloch and the Ledbury-based BookArt Club. This mixed media collection has been created in response to the botanical illustrations in the Cathedral’s archives and also includes work by Lesley Ingram, Sue Molsom, Valerie McLean, Maggie Sanderson and Sue Roig.

Whilst references to apples and cider are abundant within the cathedral archives, it was actually a solitary plum stone that was the initial inspiration for the latest exhibition. The plum stone was discovered during building work in the Cloisters in 1970 and sent to the University of Birmingham’s archaeology department, along with a sample of wattle and daub, by the cathedral’s librarian F.C. Morgan. From there it was sent on to the Ministry of Agriculture Fruit Trials at Faversham where it was discovered to be one of the earliest examples of a greengage in England.

Jennifer Dumbelton, Librarian of Hereford Cathedral, said: “It feels appropriate to be celebrating the importance of fruit at this time of year. Autumn is the perfect time to reflect on harvests, an idea which is important in both religious and secular life. Fruit is such a vital part of daily life and it is nice to be looking at it from a different perspective in this exhibition. It’s been a joy to learn about some of the unique apples in Herefordshire, and to think about the history of our Cider Bible.”

Jeanette McCulloch, artist, said: “The Presence of Plants is a collection of artworks I made in response to medieval marginalia, herbaria, and early botanical drawings. These exhibits include a curious mix of porcelain, printing and assemblages exhibited in the Chained Library, which sit neatly alongside the Wycliffe Cider Bible and Herefordshire Pomona. The entire process of making a site-specific installation in Hereford Cathedral has been insightful and wonderful.”

Laden with Fruit opens runs from Monday 9 October to Saturday 30 December 2023 in the Mappa Mundi and Chained Library Exhibition at Hereford Cathedral. The exhibition is open Monday – Saturday, from 10am – 5pm and normal admission charges apply.