On Wednesday, The Countess of Wessex was in Hereford to visit the Weeping Window poppy display, as well as the city’s Cider Museum.
Upon arrival in a wet Hereford, Sophie’s first visit was to the Cathedral, which currently has the Weeping Window poppy display as part of the piece’s final tour. The Weeping Window installation was created by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper and has been on display in various parts of the UK as part of 14-18 NOW’s tour. The poppies have been on display at Hereford Cathedral since 14th March and will remain there until 29th April. The Weeping Window was initally designed as an installation at the Tower of London; after this, it was decided that the display should tour the UK to allow as many people as possible to view the ceramic hand-made flowers and to pay their respects.
Hereford Cathedral is the first venue on the tour to have made the poppy display accessible to those who are visually impaired; an audio description of the installation is available on a MP3 player, while a small handling collection means those visitors can touch a small selection of the poppies. Sophie is a firm advocate for those with visual impairments; her own daughter, Lady Louise, required an operation to improve her sight and Sophie has worked hard on promoting this issue in developing countries; last year, she visited Bangladesh promote awareness of this issue to raise awareness of visual problems. The Countess is also the Patron of Blind Veterans UK.
HCJS Nursery pupils have had the pleasure of meeting the Countess of Wessex, who is visiting Hereford to see #WeepingWindow today. Later on she will meet @HCSHead, who will be showing the Countess the 70 ceramics poppies which commemorate the former HCS pupils who fell in WW1. pic.twitter.com/0676BbWSib
— HerefordCathedralSch (@Herefordcs1) 25 April 2018
As well as viewing the poppies at the Cathedral, the Countess met with former employees of the Rotherwas Munitions Factory; the ladies had worked there during World War II and the royal guest was keen to hear their stories. Sophie was also joined by Hereford’s Dean, The Very Reverand Michael Tavinor, to view the Cathedral’s ‘Ascension’ SAS memorial window. The royal guest also visited the city’s Museum and Art Gallery to view the ‘Herefordshire in the Great War’ exhibition.
Prince Edward’s wife, who is known for showing off her maternal side at various engagements, then met with local schoolchildren who participated in the ‘Herefordshire Schools Remembering WWI’ arts and writing competitions. The Countess also spoke to Paul Smith, Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School, who showed the royal visitor 70 ceramic poppies which represent the school’s former pupils who lost their lives in the Great War. Sophie signed the Cathedral’s visitor book before departing for her next engagement.
After her visit to the Cathedral, Sophie then had a change of pace with a visit to the city’s Cider Museum, which is based in Pomona Place. The museum is situated in a former cider-making factory; Pomona Place is actually the birthplace of the famous Bulmer’s Cider, which was created by Henry Percival Bulmer back in 1887. The museum which is currently on the site opened in 1981 and is dedicated to the history of cider-making; visitors can see artefacts associated with the historic cider-making process, old bottles and presses, photographs and advertising memorabilia.
We had such a positive experience meeting HRH the Countess of Wessex. It was lovely to have the museum full of friends and cider maker friends big and small! pic.twitter.com/TzH2oiMGhx
— Cider Museum (@homeofcider) 25 April 2018
The Countess was one of several royals who participated in WWI commeration-related events yesterday; Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and The Duke of Cambridge took part in ANZAC Day events in the UK, and Prince Charles was in France to attend the early-morning service commemorating those who fought in the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux.