On our way to Tewkesbury, we stopped over at Letocetum, which is one place I had meant to go visit, but had never gotten round to it.
Also known as “Wall Roman Site”, it is close to the city of Lichfield and it was an important military staging post, and posting station near the Roman military road to North Wales, and Icknield (or Ryknild) Street. Ryknield street is actually Watling Street, (the old A5), The road we parked on was the old A5. It has been double carriageway’d in the meantime and to make it a double carriageway it was diverted. The A5/Watling Street had a bend just to the east of Letocetum. Ryknield Street itself is in Lichfield, and would have extended towards Watling Street and formed a junction with it roughly at the point of that bend in Watling Street as mentioned above.
During my navigation exercise, I spotted a castle on a hill; this is Dudley Castle, and I mentally added it to my list if I had time to spare. I had allowed two possible train arrivals which would either give me an hour to find my destination from the station, or 90 minutes. I had my camera in my bag “just in case”.
The bus dropped me off at the bus station, which was over the road from my destination, and next to the Church of St Edmund the King and Martyr which just happened to have a handy graveyard for me to explore.
It turns out that this is the statue of William Humble Ward, 11th Baron Ward of Birmingham, Viscount Ednam and Earl of Dudley. He died of pneumonia on the 7th of May 1885 at Dudley House in London. That could explain why I did not find him in the two graveyards I visited. I often wonder how relevant a statue like this is, especially in the light of the furor going on in South Africa about the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at Cape Town University.
There are two churches in the area of the city where I was, St Edmunds is known as the “Bottom Church”, as opposed to St Thomas’s parish church in High Street which is known as “Top Church”. Naturally I did not know this at the time. I was hoping to make the trek up the road to more or less where they would have placed a war memorial if there was one. With a bit more time on my hands I could afford myself the luxury of a bit of a look around. The hill where Dudley Castle was really dominated the area, and effectively it meant everything had to go around it. I could see part of the Castle on the hill, and managed to zoom into into.
It really did look intriguing, but at the moment there was an even more intriguing statue in the Market Square. I do not know if this was the war memorial or not because there was major construction going on in the area and parts of the statue/fountain were obviously being restored. It must have been very impressive though, whatever it was.
From here I could see the “Top Church” and time was still on my side so I headed in that direction.
Called “The Church of St Thomas“, the building is almost 200 years old, and the graveyard dates even further back than that. It is a very impressive building, and the graveyard was even more of a surprise.
Time was marching and I headed off down the road to my interview. It had been a productive day so far, and I was feeling smug that I had been able to see these two beauts.
Once my interview was over I headed across to the Castle, which is on the property of the Zoo (or is it the other way around/). Unfortunately, to see the former you needed to pay for the latter and frankly 15 pounds was not something I would pay to see the castle, especially when the zoo has no interest for me. I decided to head for home instead. I found this image on Wikipedia, and am going to use that in lieu of a personal visit.
The wheel had come a full circle since then and I have travelled on a number of different trains since I arrived here in 2013.
And that was my day. It had been an excellent one from a gravehunting point of view, and I had managed to get to Birmingham, or at least gone through it. Weather and time permitting I do want to do a day trip to the city if possible, as it too is full of history. And I really like history. As for the interview? never heard from them again.
© DRW 2015-2018. Created 01/04/2015. Images migrated 29/04/2016
There are a lot of really beautiful wall monuments lining the aisles and walls, and they are works of art in their own right.
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.
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.