A New Chapel

A new cathedral, built on a new site, north of the original Saxon cathedral, was planned after the Welsh came to Hereford in 1055 and destroyed the city. 

But older than the Palace, older even than the present Cathedral, is this sole surviving wall of the double chapel built by Robert of Lorraine or Robert the Lotharingian while he was Bishop between 1079 and 1095. The concept of the double chapel or dopel-capellen, originated with the one built at Aachen by Charlemagne in the 8th century. These double chapels were rare outside the Rhineland and this one may have been unique in this country. In the Rhineland, the chapel in the upper storey was used by the family and the lower chapel by the servants but whether that also applied here in Hereford is not known.

The lower chapel was dedicated to St Catherine and the upper to St Mary Magdalene. The chapels were served by 4 chaplains who, as we know from the Domesday Book, were all members of the cathedral community. The inability of successive Bishops to find endowments for the chapels resulted in them being handed over to the cathedral chapter. Bishop Wim de Vere gave the chapel of St Mary Magdalene in the late 12th century and Bishop Hugh Foliot gave St Catherine’s in 1233.

Apart from the north wall, which served a dual purpose as the south wall of the Bishop’s Cloister, the chapel was destroyed by Bishop Egerton between 1737 and 1757, despite strong opposition from the Society of Antiquaries and allegations that it could have been repaired for less than it cost to pull down. According to sources, Henry Egerton “miserably covetous” paid £50 to have the 1079 chapel of St Katherine knocked down when it would have been cheaper ( £20 ) to repair it.



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