From early in the 12th century until its final dissolution in 2012, the parish of St John’s was at the heart of Hereford. Its houses and shops clustered around the cathedral, but it also encompassed other locations: patches of ground along Widemarsh Street, at the foot of Aylestone Hill, along Whitecross Road, and at Blackmarston and other places south of the Wye, with extensive tracts of land at Belmont and what is now Newton Farm. In the 1900s these ‘outliers’ were amalgamated with other parishes, but the core around the cathedral remained until its very recent ‘disappearance’.
St John’s history was closely intertwined with that of the cathedral, where the parish, without a church of its own, had its altar. As this book explains, the relationship between the cathedral and the parish varied between amity and tension. But the history of the parish is as much the story of its characters, both the clergy who served it and the parishioners who lived within its bounds. There are indications of the awful lives of paupers, and of the range of humanity that lived at one time in the parish, including old sailors, a comedian, actors, feltmakers, wool staplers, Italian apprentices and whores, a Jewish silversmith, a clairvoyant, a reclusive member of Hereford ‘gentry’, a hatter turned manure manufacturer, a Polish émigré who probably committed suicide, and his daughter, who worked as a governess in Poland for many years. Body snatchers also make an appearance.
Paperback | 200 pages | 242 x 171 mm | 2010
8 colour and 160 b&w illustrations