Hereford Cathedral

Mappa Mundi Trust

History of the Collection

Mappa Mundi news clippings

In the late 1980s the Dean and Chapter of Hereford were faced with addressing the long-term structural deficit in its finances. A top firm of financial advisors from London began examining the Chapter’s deficits and assets, and advised them that the way forward would be to establish an endowment of at least £6,000,000. The income from this would enable the Chapter to pay its way in the future. They advised the Capter to sell some of the Chapter's possessions in order to raise this endowment; the Cathedral was asset rich but cash poor, and they could see no other way. Mappa Mundi was identified as the single, stand-alone item that would realize the sum needed, reasoning that it was better to sell a single item than to compromise the integrity of the Chained Library by selling a selection of its choicest treasures. At the time, scholarship around Mappa Mundi was not advanced, with the map viewed more as a rare curiosity of local interest, modestly displayed in a glazed display case in the north choir aisle of the Cathedral. The significance of the map as a world-class artefact was yet to be understood, though the international spotlight and subsequent media interest helped greatly to quickly advanced its status across the world.

Constructing the new Library BuildingThere was immediate local and national concern that the cathedral (and in fact the UK) could easily lose such an important part of its heritage; and a committee of influential local people, led by Lawrence Banks, was formed to see if the cathedral’s needs could be met in such a way that the Mappa could be retained. Spurred on by national support, assistance was sought from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which provided a substantial lump sum to endow a newly-formed Mappa Mundi Trust. It was agreed that Mappa Mundi should be properly showcased, and be located for perpetuity at Hereford where the public could also enjoy it within the context of its original home, in the city's cathedral. The project was most generously assisted by John Paul Getty Junior, and the architects William Whitfield Associates were engaged for the design and construction of a fine stone extension to the cathedral. This New Library Building would not only house the now famous map, but the remarkable Chained Library, containing manuscripts dating from the 8th century, which were also transferred to the ownership of the trust. The building would also provide library facilities for archivists, scholars and students. Many regarded the building as a work of art in its own right, as it went on to win a number of awards including the Royal Fine Art Commission Building of the Year Award in 1997.

Royal Fine Art Commission Building of the Year Award in 1997

The New Library Building was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 5th May 1996, and has become, as had been hoped, a popular and permanent home of Mappa Mundi. Admission fees generate significant income for the cathedral enabling the conservation of both its collections and the historic building itself. In 2007 the Hereford Mappa Mundi was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Preserving the Collection

Today, the Trust continues to support the preservation and conservation of these historic objects, as well as many additional aspects of the ongoing life and renewal of the cathedral.

Non-destructive scanning of the Mappa Mundi with the 3D laser

In January 2013 a team from Factum Arte made a high resolution recording, at the request of the Trustees, of the Hereford Mappa Mundi whose sealed glass cover is only removed once every two years for inspection. The team used the Lucida 3D scanner mounted onto a custom designed structure to provide absolute safety to the map and a firm platform for the highly accurate no-contact surface scanning process, which is done using a low intensity laser light projected onto the object and recoded continuously using black and white video cameras where each frame is then post-processed creating the high resolution three dimensional record.

The Trustees

The first chairman of the Mappa Mundi Trust was Sir John Cotterell Bt, who served in this role for nearly twenty years. There are currently nine Trustees who are drawn from the cathedral, the county and the wider world of books and maps. They meet twice a year to plan for the year ahead and beyond, and recently sanctioned and funded a major upgrade of the exhibition area.


Reverend Canon Christopher Pullin

Christopher Pullin is Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral.  With degrees in theology and philosophy, he was a parish priest in London and Worcester before coming to the Cathedral in 2008.  His responsibilities as Chancellor include oversight of the Library and Archives, and the Cathedral's educational work. He has a particular interest in the life and works of Dante, and this relates closely to the world of the Mappa Mundi.


Robert Chitham

Robert Chitham qualified as an architect after a career in the Royal Navy.  He was the first directing architect of English Heritage before becoming a partner in a large commercial architectural practice.  He has at various times served as president of ICOMOS UK, chairman of Chelmsford DAC and chairman of the Architects Accredited in Building Conservation.  He has a particular interest in neo-classicism and is the author of The Classical Orders of Architecture (1985).   He is currently chairman of the cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee.


Edward Harley

Edward Harley was educated at Cambridge, was a Partner at Cazenove and Co for many years and now works part time on the charity side of Schroder and Co. He has been involved with activities at Hereford Cathedral for many years and, is the current chairman of the Mappa Mundi Trust in addition to being a member of the Chapter's Finance Committee and the cathedral’s Joint Investment Committee. He is President of the Friends of the Hereford Record Office and involved with many charitable organisations in Herefordshire. He is involved in a range of heritage bodies including Burghley House, the Tate Gallery and the Courtauld. He has recently stepped down from the Presidency of the Historic Houses Association and has been appointed chairman of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel.


Giles Mandelbrote

Giles Mandelbrote is Librarian and Archivist of Lambeth Palace Library, the historic library and archive of the Archbishops of Canterbury, founded in 1610. He previously worked for many years as a curator at the British Library and is also a council member of the Friends of the Bodleian Library. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and an honorary Senior Research Fellow of King's College, London. He has published widely on the history of the book trade, especially in early modern London, and on the history of book ownership and libraries in 17th- and early 18th-century England.


Very Reverend Michael Tavinor

Michael Tavinor has been Dean of Hereford since 2002. Prior to this he was Vicar of Tewkesbury Abbey (1990-2002), Precentor of Ely Cathedral (1985-90) amd curate of St Peter, Ealing (1982-5). As Dean he is ex officio a member of the Trust and, along with all members of Chapter takes very seriously the care and stewardship of the great treasure of Mappa Mundi.  He studied music at university (Durham, Cambridge and King’s College, London) and trained for the priesthood at Ripon College, Cuddesdon.  His present interests include the ‘renaissance’ of medieval shrines in English Cathedrals today, on which subject he recently gained a Master of Theology degree at Lampeter.


Richard Price

Richard Price was educated at King’s School Rochester and University College London where he took an LLB (Hons). He subsequently qualified as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales and joined the City law firm Clifford Chance. He spent most of his career in the firm’s Middle East offices, eventually becoming Managing Partner of the same. He retired as a partner from Clifford Chance in 1999 but remained as a Consultant to the firm on Middle East law until 2009. He joined the Chapter of Hereford Cathedral in 2010 with a special brief to assist in legal issues and commercial development. He is one of the Directors of the Company nominated by the Chapter.


Peter Barber

Peter Barber OBE, MA, FSA, FRHistS, FRNS, FRGS has been working at the British Library since 1975, initially in the Department of Manuscripts and latterly in the Map Library.  He has been Head of Cartographic and Topographic Materials there since 2001.  He has written several books and articles on cartographic themes with a special emphasis on medieval and early modern cartography.  He has also curated several exhibitions. He has been the British Library's Trustee on the Mappa Mundi Trust since for nearly 20 years and also serves on the Cathedral's library committee.


Lawrence Banks

Lawrence Banks was educated at Christ Church Oxford and spent his working life as a merchant banker with Robert Fleming & co Ltd. As Chairman of Corporate Finance he was responsible for advising the Wellcome Trust and has wide local and national experience in the charity field both professionally and as a trustee. He was responsible for initiating plans for retaining The Mappa Mundi in Hereford and in raising the funds to do so. He is Chairman of the Cathedral Finance Committee and a former Deputy Chairman of The Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust. His family have lived in Herefordshire for 200 years and have played a significant role in local life. He manages Hergest Croft Gardens, which is one of the most important collections of trees and shrubs in the British Isles.


Tamsin Clive

Tamsin Clive read History and History of Art at University College, London and went on to have a career in the London art world before moving to Herefordshire in 1999.  Since then she has been a trustee of a number of charitable trusts, primarily The Guinness Partnership (social housing), and The Queenswood Coronation Fund and is Deputy Chairman of the governors of The Elms School, Colwall.  She was appointed a trustee of the Mappa Mundi in 2011. 


Sarah Clay

Sarah Clay worked for Colefax and Fowler, Interior Design in London and Australia.  She then studied Library and Archive Conservation (BA Hons) at Camberwell College.  Since then she has had twenty years experience working in both private and public collections, specializing in the preservation of pre-1800 leather bindings and gold tooling. She has recently completed a Post Graduate Diploma at Cardiff University in the “Care of Collections”.  She is a member of the Institute of Conservation and the Museum Association.

Hereford Cathedral Crest

Hereford Cathedral - Home of the Mappa Mundi

Hereford Cathedral Crest