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Ancient Diocese of Hereford

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(HEREFORDENSIS)

Located in England. Though the name of Putta, the exiled Bishop of Rochester, is usually given as the first Bishop Of Hereford (676), Venerable Bede's account merely states that he was granted a church and some land in Mercia by Sexulf, Bishop of Lichfield. This, however, was probably the nucleus from which the diocese grew, though its limits were not precisely fixed even by the end of the eighth century. In 793 the body of the martyred Ethelbert, King of the East Saxons, was buried at Hereford, and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage famous for miracles. His name was joined with that of the Blessed Virgin as titular, so that the cathedral, which was served by secular canons, was known as the Church of St. Mary and St. Ethelbert. The shrine was destroyed by the Welsh in 1055, when the cathedral, which had been recently rebuilt, was much damaged. It was restored after the Norman Conquest by Bishop Robert de Losinga, the intimate friend of St. Wulstan of Worcester. His immediate successors made further additions, and the great central tower was built about 1200. The clerestory to the choir, the beautiful Early English Lady Chapel and the north transept were added during the thirteenth century. Unfortunately the cathedral has suffered much from unskilful restoration, and some of the medieval work has been replaced by eighteenth-century architecture, notably the west front, which was ruined by the fall of a tower in 1786. The cathedral was remarkable for not conforming to the Sarum Rite, but for maintaining its own "Hereford Use" down to the Reformation. It had its own Breviary and Missal, and portions of the antiphonary have also survived. The diocese was generally fortunate in its bishops, two of whom are specially prominent: John de Breton, the great English lawyer (1268-1275); and his successor, Thomas de Cantilupe, better known as St. Thomas of Hereford, the last English saint to be canonized. He was chancellor to King Henry III when he was elected bishop, and had wide experience of government. In the disputes which arose between Archbishop Peckham and his suffragans, St. Thomas was chosen to lay the cause of the bishops before the pope, and while on this mission he died. His relics were buried at Hereford, where his shrine became the scene of numerous miracles. Part of the relics were saved at the Reformation and are now at Stonyhurst, but it would appear that some remained at Hereford, for as late as 1610 they were carried in procession by the people during the plague. In the cathedral is still preserved the celebrated "Mappa Mundi", designed by Richard of Battle in the thirteenth century. The diocese consisted of nearly all Herefordshire, with part of Shropshire, and parishes in the counties of Worcester, Monmouth, Montgomery and Radnor. It was divided into two archdeaconries, Hereford and Salop. There were about thirty religious houses in the diocese, the Augustinians having seven, including the priory of Wigmore, and the Benedictines ten, among which was the great priory of Leominster. There were Cluniacs at Clifford, Wenlock and Preen, Cistercians at Doré and Flaxley. Dominicans and Franciscans both had priories in Hereford; at Ludlow there were Carmelites and Austin Friars.

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The following is the list of bishops of Hereford, with dates of appointment, the chronology before 1012 being partly conjectural: —

Putta, 676 Vacancy, 1168 Thyrtell, 693 Robert Foliot, 1174 Torchtere, 710 William de Vere, 1186 Walchstod, 727 Giles de Braose, 1200 Cuthbert, 736 Hugh de Mapenor, 1216 Podda, 746 Hugh Foliot, 1219 Acca, c. 758 Ralph de Maydenstan,1234 Aldberht, 777 Peter of Savoy, 1240 Esne, 781 John de Breton, 1268 Celmundus, 793 St. Thomas de Cantilupe, 1275 Edulf, 796 Richard Swinfield, 1283 Utel, c. 798 Adam Orleton, 1316 Wulfhard, 803 Thomas Charleton, 1327 Benna, 824 John Trilleck, 1344 Eadulf, c. 825 Lewis Charleton, 1361 Cuthwulf, 838 William Courtenay, 1370 Mucellus, c. 857 John Gilbert, 1375 Deorlaf, 866 Thomas Trevenant, 1389 Ethelbert, 868 Robert Mascall, 1404 Cunemund, 888 Edmund Lacy, 1417 Athelstan I, 895 Thomas Polton, 1420 Eadgar, c. 901 Thomas Spofford, 1421 Tidhelm, c. 930 Richard Beauchamp, 1448 Wulfhelm, c. 935 Reginald Buller, 1450 Aifric, 941 John Stanberry, 1453 Athulf, c. 966 Thomas Mylling, 1474 Athelstan II, 1012 Edmund Audley, 1492 Leofgar, 1056 Adrian de Castello, 1503 Vacancy, 1056 Richard Mayhew, 1504 Walter of Lorraine, 1061 Charles Booth, 1516 Robert de Losinga, 1079     Schismatical bishops : — Gerard, 1096 Edward Foxe, 1535 Vacancy, 1101 Edmund Bonner, 1538
    (translated to London
    before consecration ) Reynelm, 1107 Geoffrey de Clive, 1115 John Skypp, 1539 Richard de Capella, 1121 John Harley, 1553 Vacancy, 1127     Canonical bishops : — Robert de Bethune, 1131 Robert Parfew, 1554 Gilbert Foliot, 1148 Thomas Reynolds, 1557
    (died a prisoner for the
    faith before consecration ) Robert de Maledon, 1163    

The arms of the see were: Gules, three leopard's heads reversed, jessant as many fleurs-de-lys, or.

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