Category: Lichfield

Lichfield Cathedral

Continuing where we interrupted my trip around Lichfield, this post is devoted to the Cathedral. Photography is only permitted inside with a permit which is available at the shop. Unfortunately the lighting conditions vary considerably as you move between areas, and using a flash is really frowned on, which is why many of these images are not as clear and bright as I would have liked them to be.
I will not discuss the history of the building, it has its own website for that. And given how long the building has been around it has accumulated a vast amount of history.
There is something about these magnificent structures that makes me feel small (apart from the size of course), there is definitely a sense of awe, and of course respect for those who constructed them. It was no mean feat to build something like this, especially when you consider that everything was built by hand, there was no machinery, no project managers, health and safety reps, computer aided design and calculation, and definitely no mass production. However, there were plenty of skilled tradesmen and artisans. It is no wonder that a building like this was a job for a lifetime.  
The closest comparison to the building that I can use is probably Salisbury Cathedral,  and there are similarities in this building to the church in Salisbury, however, I did find this building somewhat darker and more intense in the feel of it. Salisbury was light and friendly, this one was more brooding and you could really feel the weight of time on it. Don’t get me wrong though, it is a magnificent piece of architecture.
This window is above the entrance to the nave, and there is a lot of stained glass in the building, so much so that you could spend a whole day there and probably miss some of it. 
Moving towards the end of the cathedral, there is a screen which sits at the junction of the two transepts and the Quire. The South Transept houses (right hand side of the image above) the Military Chapel (right hand image below), which was definitely on my list of places to see.

The North Transept felt like it was just a spare area to store odds and ends, there was no real utilisation of this space at all,beyond that of the font which is in the centre of this area.


There are a lot of really beautiful wall monuments lining the aisles and walls, and they are works of art in their own right.

There were a lot of burial effigies too, and the most intriguing was hidden behind the partitions in the North Transept, and I could not really get close to it. But, that is made up for by some of the others dotted around the cathedral.


The next part of the cathedral that I visited was the Chapter House, which was really a meeting place where the business of the cathedral was conducted. It was not a large space, and it held an exhibition retaining to the St Chad, as well as the Staffordshire Hoard,  It was difficult to photograph this area because of the size and the amount of people that gravitated towards it. The image below is really the assembly area and it was a really beautiful space.

I continued my exploration towards the Quire and the Lady Chapel, there was a talk being given about the stained glass windows in the latter, so I was really trying to put off going to that area without disturbing the talk.

I did not find the quire to be too ostentatious, but it was a very pretty space, and I am sure that it must be quite an experience standing at this spot during a full blown service.

Turning around with your back to the quire was the High Altar, with the altar rail and a screen behind it which separates it from the Lady Chapel behind. 

The Lady Chapel is beautiful, and where some of the best stained glass is to be found,  it is also the area  where a number of artefacts are housed. It was added in the early 14th century to honour The Blessed Virgin Mary. There was no sign that the stained glass talk was going to disperse soon so I headed off in the direction of the South Transept. At the same level of the Quire in the aisle was St Chad’s Head Chapel. I kept on coming across references to St Chad of Mercia, and he is really the patron saint of the cathedral, with numerous artefacts relating to him being stored and on display. The head chapel was the place where his skull was kept in the days when relics formed an important part of the church and it’s congregation.
Exiting St Chads I came across one of the more beautiful memorials I have ever seen in a church. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and the history of it is even more tragic. Called “The Sleeping Children”, it is the memorial to Ellen-Jane and Marianne Robinson, who died in 1813 and 1814.

In the history of the memorial they mention the Boothby Memorial, which is equally beautiful, and an inspiration for this one.

I was now in the South Transept which is very military orientated as is to be expected. The Staffordshire Regiment  is well represented here, and there is even a very impressive memorial to members of the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment that lost their lives in the Boer War.

With that portion completed it was time for me to leave and to explore the outside of the cathedral.
This image was taken at the Lady Chapel end of the cathedral, unlike Salisbury there is not a lot of space to get an image that encompasses the complete building. I believe the colour of the stone is due to air pollution, and in parts the sandstone is crumbling.
  The churchyard still exists around the building, and headstones are laid flat with the surface. Many that I saw were of officials from the church, as well as clergy. The area around the cathedral is known as the Cathedral Close and the buildings are in use as offices, a school, shop, and a number of other functions. This area was very involved in the civil war, and the cathedral and buildings were damaged.

There are large number of statues mounted on the cathedral as well as the invariable Gargoyle. I suspect you would need a lot of time to photograph them all, and each was hand made, there was no mass production involved at all.  I believe that even Queen Victoria is on here somewhere, and probably St Chad too. I always feel that it is quite a pity that you are unable to get high enough to really have a good look at the statues, and to photograph them would really be a mission. 

That concluded my visit, and I will probably return to here, the spire tours happen on a Saturday and I would not mind having a go at getting up there to have a look, but, there are many factors at play which may preclude that from happening. A last look and I was heading on my way once again.

   Random Images.

© DRW 2015-2018 Images migrated 28/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 09:13

On the loose in Lichfield

It is true, I am no longer in Basingstoke, I have relocated to Staffordshire and am currently crashing in a small place called Chasetown. Just up the road from it is the city of Lichfield, which I visited today. The name should ring a bell with any fan of cathedrals, as it has a beautiful 3 spired example.


It is also home to something I had forgotten about.

The statue of Captain EJ Smith, commander of the ill-fated RMS Titanic stands in Beacon Park. He had no connection to the city of Lichfield, and it was reportedly put there in 1914 because authorities in Stoke-on-Trent refused the statue, not wishing to be associated with the perceived disgrace. 
Now belatedly Stoke-on-Trent wants their most famous citizen back. Unfortunately for them, Lichfield has been home to the statue since 1914 and does not want to part with him. 
The nearly 8ft statue was created by Lady Kathleen Scott, the widow of Captain Scott of the Antarctic. 
I was quite taken aback when I saw the statue, it was one link to the Titanic I never thought I would see, but here he was, in Bronze, gazing out towards the distance. 
Very close to Beacon Park is the Garden of Remembrance, with the War Memorial.
And close by on the corner of Beacon Park is the Library. Do not get fooled by the blue skies though, they did not last long, and by the time I came out of the Cathedral the weather had changed (again).
My real target on this day was the Cathedral, and to get a feel for the city which is the closest railway station to where I am currently living. 
I also wanted to scope out the War Grave situation in the city, there are a number of churchyards that have CWGC graves in them, and if possible to try get a few of them captured. However, my mind was really only just on the Cathedral and that was where I headed. My visit is documented in a different blog post to this one, so I shall insert a pic of the cathedral below, and carry on with my walking around below the image.
 Once I had finished my meanderings around the cathedral I headed back towards the town area, just to see what I could see and to scope out any possible shops of interest. The nature of Chasetown is that there is not really a lot there, so anything major that needs doing like banking or clothing shopping has to be done in Lichfield. The bus station is opposite the station, and the bus stop in Chasetown is across the road from where I live. 
There was another church spire sticking out above the town, and I headed towards it (vaguely hoping for a graveyard?) , that church was very similar in design to one in Salisbury, and was no longer being used as a church, but rather as a tourist information centre and local history museum.
Called St Marys, it is probably the 4th highest spire in Lichfield. The building dates from the 1870’s  and it was probably much easier to photograph back then (assuming you had the ability) as it was more than likely not surrounded by the shops and buildings as it is now. 
I was able to get directions to my next destination at the centre, and was soon ready to leave. The market square outside the church was filled with the usual purveyors of strange items, and I could not help wonder if there wasn’t a graveyard under this space? However, it does seem as if a market was there for a long time because I did spot the sign below affixed to the outside wall. The history of this unfortunate event is worth reading, and I do find it ironic that the person burnt for heresy is remembered on a church wall, so many years after the fact. Are the men who judged him remembered?
On one of my later jaunts to Lichfield I managed to get a photograph of the market place without the hustle and bustle, and this is what it looks like.

There are two statues on the market place, the one statue is that of Samuel Johnson, who wrote the first authoritative Dictionary of the English Language.

The house where he lived is across the road from the statue and is now a museum and bookshop.

My next destination was St Chad Churchyard which wasn’t too far away. There were 16 CWGC burials there which I hoped to photograph. 
To reach the church I had to return the way I came and head towards Stowe Pool and the church could be seen from there. So far I had encountered quite a lot of water in the city, but could not see whether a river ran through it. The church dates back to the 12th century, although it has been extensively restored. Also on the site is a Holy Well by which St Chad is said to have prayed and used the waters’ healing properties. The church may be seem at the end of the right bank of the pool in the distance.

And like so many of these parish churches it is beautiful, with an extensive graveyard that proved to be a treasure chest of beautiful stones, many of them in slate.
The graveyard also yielded the oldest legible headstone that I had ever seen, dating from 1689!

Overall though, the headstones at the church were really amazing to see, as mentioned, many were of gray slate and the engraving was as crisp as the day it was made, and the detail that was on the headstones was truly fantastic. I suspect that there are older graves in the churchyard, but the legibility was as such that I could not be positive.

And while there were only 16 graves to find I seemed to have missed one grave, although was able to find a new private memorial.

The well of St Chad was not looking too good though, in fact the water was a decidedly unhealthy colour, and I was quite shocked to see a lack of fencing, signage and safety equipment at the well.

But who was St Chad? I had encountered his name (and chapel) in the cathedral and I have to admit I was curious. Naturally I am not an expert in these matters which is why I have provided a Wikipedia link, suffice to say that in today’s terms it would probably be safe to say he had a cult following.  His influence may be felt as far away as Birmingham where there is a cathedral dedicated to him.

It was time to bid farewell to the church and head back towards town. The weather was changing again, and I was not ready to tackle the other two sites that had graves in them, I was considering that heading for home may be an idea, I was also peckish as my chocolate ration was finished..

I took a slightly different route back towards town, heading towards the spire of St Marys, church spires are handy landmarks, and I use them regularly when I am out and about. I seem to visit quite a few churches in my quest for war graves, and am really a lover of old churches.

I am also very fond of these black and white timber framed houses, and there are a lot of them in Lichfield.  

I eventually found a pub and had fried fish and chips and ale, so was ready to do more photography as I wended my way towards the station.

This faded gem caught my eye, it could only have been an entertainment venue in its previous life, the building just cries out “Dance Palace” or “Movie House”, today it is just another old building that is surviving on the fringes of entertainment.

Close to the station is the “Hospital of St John the Baptist without the Barrs“. It is quite a historic place and I would really like to go inside and have a closer look around the chapel which I photographed very early in the morning

Very close to the chapel is the Library, which is a very impressive building,  but I have yet to go inside it. 

And opposite the library is the site of the former Franciscan Friary, which is now a park, with the outline of the original building visible in stone.



 A bit further up the street towards Chasetown, is the Clock Tower which I had been seeing on the bus to and from Lichfield. It is a very pretty structure, but I really think it deserves to be in a more central point.

According to the bronze plaque on the wall, it had first been “…. erected in 1863 on the site of the old Crucifix Conduit, at the junction of the Friary Road with Bird Street”.

It was dismantled and re-erected at its current site in 1928, and  repaired and restored in 1991.

I am not too sure what the Crucifix Conduit is/was, but there are two water fountains close to each other. The one is attached to the exterior wall of the clock tower. and the other is situated on a small island on the one side of the library. That one is plaqued and still has running water.  The plaque informed me that the Crucifix Conduit stood near that spot and it brought water from Aldershawe to Lichfield 1301 and 1928. 

The railways station was not too far away, and it was not really very busy either, although the platform buildings were wonderful, really from a different age altogether.

The only train I photographed was a class 323 of London Midlands. And the spire in the background is St Micheal on Greenhill which was where my next batch of gravehunting would happen.

It was time for me to get my bus back home. It had been a very productive day, and I had seen many thing so of interest. The follow up to this page will deal with Lichfield Cathedral, so watch this space! (or the one next door).


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Updated: 31/12/2017 — 09:15
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