04 March 2011

Hereford, Not Mappa Mundane

Hereford's pièce de résistance is, naturally, the cathedral, but the city is home to a number of attractive buildings (and some dire ones). Grade II* listed, the town hall is in the true tradition of local authorities ensuring the best for themselves. Opened in 1904, it's constructed of brick, the Baroque frontage faced with terracotta mouldings.

Fosse House, so named as it is built on part of the moat (Latin: fossa) of long-gone Hereford Castle, was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, erstwhile pupil of Sir John Soane. Smirke is famous for the British Museum, Covent Garden Theatre, and Edinburgh's Royal College of Physicians. Completed in 1825, Fosse House is late-Georgian. Note the hexagonal chimneys and the octagonal glazing bars.

The Old House, built 1621, stands self-consciously in the middle of a modern shopping centre and with its feet about a foot below current pavement level. It started life as part of Butchers' Row, which was progressively demolished from the early nineteenth century, when the street alignment was altered; and now stands alone, somewhat Disney-esque in its isolation.

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