Home for the Mappa Mundi

Frances Farrer

Who remembers the big fuss a couple of years ago about the Mappa Mundi? Consternation about its future spilled into familiar territory: whether we care enough about our treasures, and how careless we are of our heritage. But now this justly famous map is to have a new place of display from mid-May: a special exhibition room within Hereford Cathedral.

The Mappa Mundi was made in 1289 and is the last surviving example of a map with Jerusalem at its centre. Using Biblical and classical knowledge the mapmaker placed the countries of the world in correct relationship to each other, although there is no US or Australia.

The Mappa is not to scale, and it is clear that to put Jerusalem in the middle you must put East at the top and north on the left. However, there are polar bears shown in Norway and elephants in India. With the Mappa Mundi in one exhibition is a collection of handwritten books which were chained in 1611. The oldest is an eighth-century gospel.

Schools with an interest in calligraphy, art, and the advance of the use of colour, could find these works useful reference points.

Frances Farrer Groups of 11 and more Pounds 1.50 per child for under-11s, Pounds 2 for 11+ or mixed age-groups. Adult with group Pounds 3. Contact Dominic Harbour, 5 The Cloister, Hereford HR1 2NG. Tel: 01432 359880

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Frances Farrer

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