LICHFIELD

Grid Ref: SK 117 095 at the Cathedral
Dates: 24 June 2009 & 11 Jan 2014

The city's recorded history began when Chad of Mercia arrived to establish his Bishopric in 669 AD and the settlement grew as the ecclesiastical centre of Mercia. The development of the city was consolidated in the 12th century under Roger de Clinton, who fortified the Cathedral Close and also laid out the town with the ladder-shaped street pattern that survives to this day. Lichfield's heyday was in the 18th century, when it developed into a thriving coaching city. This was a period of great intellectual activity, the city being the home of many famous people including Samuel Johnson, David Garrick, Erasmus Darwin and Anna Seward, and prompted Johnson's remark that Lichfield was "a city of philosophers".

Today, the city still retains its old importance as an ecclesiastical centre, and its industrial and commercial development has been limited. The centre of the city has over 230 listed buildings (including many examples of Georgian architecture), and preserves much of its historic character. In 2009, the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork, was found 3.7 miles south-west of Lichfield.

Cathedral
Lichfield Cathedral

Above is the great West Front of the cathedral. Building began about 1200 with the nave about 1260 and the West Front about 1280. The spires on the West Front date from about 1320-30. The crossing tower originally dated from 1300 but was rebuilt between 1661 and 1669 after its destruction in the Civil War. Further restoration work was needed from 1788 to 1795 by James Wyatt. He largely rebuilt the central spire. Between 1842 and 1846 the architect Sydney Smirke did further restoration work and then in 1857, Sir George Gilbert Scott followed by his son John Oldrid Scott carried out restoration until 1901. As a result much of the cathedral seen today is Scott's work.

There follows a series of images from a walk round Lichfield from Bore Street into Breadmarket Street and the Market Square then to Conduit Street, along Dam Street to the Cathedral Close, Erasmus Darwin's House and Vicars' Close then to Beacon Street and Beacon Park and along Bird Street.

 

Bank   Tudor buildings
Savings Bank of 1849 on the corner of Conduit Street and Bore Street   Tudor house, now a cafe (2014)
Breadmarket St   Market Square
Breadmarket Street   Market Square

View down Breadmarket Street towards Market Street with the steeple of St. Mary's church, now used as the Heritage Centre. The steeple was designed by the architect Street and was constructed between 1852 and 1854. The original church, built in 1717-1721, was rebuilt by James Fowler of Louth between 1868 and 1870. The early 16th century Tudor House is on the shady south side of Bore Street. It is a cafe and chocolate shop. The view across the Market Square towards Conduit Street shows the statue of James Boswell to the left, which was made by Percy Fitzgerald in 1908. Boswell was the friend and biographer of Lichfield's most famous son, Dr. Samuel Johnson, author, raconteur and compiler of the first English Dictionary

Plaque   Plaque
Memorial to Edward Wightman   Memorial to George Fox
Dr. Johnson's house   Last Supper
Dr. Johnson's birthplace   "The Last Supper" on a plaque at Bridgeman and Sons
Dr. Johnson   View NW
Samuel Johnson memorial   View North West from Dam Street towards the Cathedral.

On the NE side of Dam Street is Quonians Lane, with the premises of R. Bridgeman and Sons, architectural craftsmen in wood and stone and a Tudor period timber-framed house. Dam Street was the scene of an incident in the English Civil War. The first seige of Lichfield began on 2 March 1643 with the arrival of Lord Brooke's Parliamentary forces. The Royalists were in the Cathedral Close. Lord Brooke was in Dam Street and was killed by a sniper, John Dyott, shooting from the central tower of the cathedral. The Royalists eventually surrendered but on 7 April, Prince Rupert arrived with 3000 men and retook the town. In 1646, the Parliamentarians under Sir William Brereton lay seige to the town and during the bombardment of the Cathedral Close area, the central tower was hit and destroyed on 12 May. The Royalists surrendered on 10 July.

Tudor   Cathedral Close
Tudor buildings   West End of Cathedral Close
Erasmus Darwin   View from gardens
Erasmus Darwin memorial   View from the gardens
school   Vicars' Close
St. Chad's School.   To the north of the gardens is the back of Vicars' Close
Library & Museum   Vicars' Close
Library   Timber framed building on the North side of Vicars' Close

The Cathedral Close was created by Bishop Langton around 1300; he built the wall, two gateways and two causeways across the pool known as Dam Street and Bird Street. On the road to the left towards Beacon Street there are Newton's College and the West Gate. From the north west side of The Close you can enter the sheltered square by the the house of Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of the biologist Charles Darwin. Erasmus (12 December 1731 – 18 April 1802) was an English physician. One of the key thinkers of the Midlands Enlightenment, he was also a natural philosopher, physiologist, slave-trade abolitionist, inventor, and poet. Darwin was a founding member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, a discussion group of pioneering industrialists and natural philosophers. St. Chad's school is on the North side of the Cathedral Close. The Library and Museum of 1857-9 is in an Italianate style by Bidlake and Lovatt.

Captain Smith   War Memorial
Commander Smith of the Titanic   War Memorial
View from poolside   George Hotel
The spires from near Beacon Park   The George Hotel in Bird Street

In Beacon Park is the bronze statue of Commander Edward John Smith, captain of the R.M.S. Titanic, who went down with his ship. He was a Staffordshire man. The bronze was created by Lady Scott, the wife of Captain Scott of the Antarctic. The section of Beacon Park known as the museum gardens was opened in 1857. The park was extended to the west in 1891 and again in 1943 when Lieutenant-Colonel Swinfen Broun bequeathed 12 acres. The Garden of Remembrance lies adjacent to the Minster Pool. The was opened in 1920 on land formerly belonging to Newton's College. The memorial to Lichfield men who died in the Great War was created by Robert Bridgeman & Sons. The George Hotel on Bird Street is a fine late 18th century construction. It is unusual in being built with a ballroom on the first floor.

Sources

The Buildings of England, Staffordshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin, 1974, ISBN 0 14 071046 9
Wikipedia

 

Index button

Strolling through Staffordshire

©  Craig Thornber, England, United Kingdom    Main Site Address:  https://www.thornber.net/

W3C XHTML 1.0 1.0 Strict W3C_CSS