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

Edward HarleyPatron

The first chairman of the Mappa Mundi Trust was Sir John Cotterell Bt, who served in this role for nearly 20 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.


Peter Barber

Peter Barber OBE FSA FRHistS FRNS worked at the British Library from 1975 to 2015, initially in the Department of Manuscripts and latterly in the Map Library, where he was Head of Cartographic and Topographic Materials from 2001. He has published extensively on cartographic themes with a special emphasis on medieval and early modern cartography, royal maps and map collections, and the map collections of the British Library. He has also curated several exhibitions. He was the British Library's trustee on the Mappa Mundi Trust for over 20 years, and also serves on the cathedral’s library committee.


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, specialising 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.


Tamsin Clive (chair)

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, both in Herefordshire and beyond. At present, as well as being a trustee of the Mappa Mundi Trust (since 2011), she is also a trustee of the Queenswood Coronation Fund and the Eveson Trust. In 2016 she was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Herefordshire.


Sir Harry Cotterell Bt

Harry is the owner of an estate in Herefordshire and an apple farmer. He was a member of Hereford and Worcester County Council from 1989 to 1993, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) from 2011 to 2013 and chairman of Fisher German, a multi-sector property company, from 2015 to 2020. He is currently chairman of the Trustees of the Institute for Cancer Vaccines and Immunotherapy, a medical research charity, and a director of Wye Fruit, a fruit-packing business in Ledbury.


Jonathan Evans

Jonathan Evans graduated in economics and joined the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in 1989. He pursued his career in global financial markets with HSBC until 2016, when he returned home to Herefordshire to take over the management of family farming and property interests. He was appointed Mappa Mundi Trustee with responsibility for oversight of the Trust’s investments in 2017 and is currently a member of the cathedral’s Finance and Risk Committee in the capacity of investment brief for the various cathedral entities. Involvement in other charitable organisations include the foundation of Ludlow College, where he is a Trustee with similar investment responsibilities, and the Supporting Wounded Veterans charity, where he is a mentor to medically discharged military veterans.


The Right Revd Richard Jackson

Richard Jackson is the Bishop of Hereford. He read agriculture and forestry at Christ Church, Oxford. Following a career as an agronomist with a commercial company, he was ordained in 1994. After 15 years in parish ministry, he became a Diocesan Mission Advisor and the Bishop of Lewes in 2014. He came to Hereford at the start of 2020. He is committed to the wise stewardship of all our historic assets, but also to the use of our heritage as a tool for mission.


Giles Mandelbrote

Giles Mandelbrote is Librarian & Director of Collections at the Warburg Institute. He previously worked for many years as librarian at Lambeth Palace Library and a curator at the British Library. He is a council member of the Friends of the Bodleian Library, 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.


The Very Revd Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown was appointed Dean of Hereford in 2021. Prior to this she was Canon Missioner at Peterborough Cathedral and previously parish priest and CEO of Farming Community Network, a national ecumenical charity for the alleviation of difficulties in the farming community. As Dean she is ex officio a member of the Trust, and takes very seriously Chapter’s responsibility to care for, steward and promote the great treasure of Mappa Mundi, which is extraordinary both in itself and as a means of opening the cathedral up to more visitors. As a missioner she finds the place of church and faith in the world amidst changing social contexts, and new scientific and intellectual discoveries down the centuries endlessly fascinating. As a record of this for its time the Mappa Mundi offers her much food for thought and she looks forward to learning more.


Dr Claire Breay MBE FSA

Dr Claire Breay was an archivist at Lambeth Palace Library for two years before joining the British Library as a curator in the Department of Manuscripts in 1998. She has been head of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts at the Library since 2006. She managed the Codex Sinaiticus Project (2002–10) and has coordinated projects to digitise the British Library’s medieval manuscript collections. She was lead curator of the exhibitions Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy (2015) and Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War (201819). She is secretary of the Association for Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections, a member of the Cathedral Archives, Libraries and Collections Association committee, and the British Library’s trustee on the Mappa Mundi Trust.


Edward Perks 

Edward Perks recently retired as Senior Partner of Currey & Co, London solicitors specialising in historic buildings and their estates and collections. He has extensive experience of acting as a charity trustee and as a director of charitable companies; in retirement he retains several trusteeships including two stately home charities with major historic collections. He also has a life-long interest in the architecture and contents of historic churches.

Hereford Cathedral Crest

Hereford Cathedral - Home of the Mappa Mundi

Hereford Cathedral Crest