In June, Hereford Cathedral will be hosting a talk about one of the important, and fascinating, medieval documents in its archives, The Visitation of Hereford Diocese in 1397.

At the end of April 1397, Bishop Trefnant set off from Burghill to visit fifty-nine locations across the Diocese from as far north as Alberbury in Shropshire to as far south as Tidenham in the Forest of Dean. Along the way he met with many parishioners to question them about the behaviour of their neighbours and local clergy.

The bishop found illegal baptisms, adultery and all sorts of other transgressions which were all noted into a slim paper book, which currently resides in the cathedral archives. These findings have been recently translated and published by Ian Forrest, Professor of Social and Religious History at the University of Oxford, and Christopher Whittick who spent 44 years as an archivist in local government and is now a freelance cataloguer, researcher and editor. Their talk on Tuesday 13 June, 7pm, will discuss the document’s unparalleled insight into life, behaviour, religious belief and practice during a period of religious and political turmoil.

Elizabeth Semper O’Keefe, Archivist at Hereford Cathedral, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ian Forrest and Christopher Whittick to the cathedral to discuss The Visitation of Hereford Diocese. The document itself is a rare survivor which gives astonishing insight into our diocesan forebears in the 14th century.

From Margaret Northyn of Dormington, who was a ‘chatterer’ in church, to the rector of Coddington who housed his calves in the bell tower and filled it with hay, there are countless fascinating details which really give a human perspective on this period of time. We’ve highlighted certain stories found in the documentation in Cathedral City County, our latest exhibition in the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library and will be sharing more with a display of the document in the North Choir Aisle of the cathedral in June.”

The Visitation of Hereford Diocese in 1397 talk will take place on Tuesday 13 June at 7pm in College Hall. Tickets cost £10 and are available to purchase here from the cathedral website or by contacting the cathedral library team on 01432 374 225.

Cathedral City County is on show within Mappa Mundi and Chained Library, Hereford Cathedral, Friday 5 May - Saturday 30 September 2023. The exhibition is open from Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm (last entrance 4.30 pm). Normal admission charges apply.

Image Credit: Hereford Cathedral Library O. 8. 2 f167r illumination showing a bishop celebrating a marriage.