Lichfield facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsLichfield
From top left: Lichfield Cathedral; Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum; Quonians Lane; Garrick Theatre; Cityscape.
Coat of arms of Lichfield
Motto: Salve, magna parens (Hail great parent)
|Area||14.02 km2 (5.41 sq mi)|
|• Density||2,298/km2 (5,950/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||110 miles (180 km) NNW|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||WS13 WS14|
|EU Parliament||West Midlands|
Lichfield // is a cathedral city and civil parish in Staffordshire, England. One of eight civil parishes with city status in England, Lichfield is situated roughly 16 mi (26 km) north of Birmingham. At the time of the 2011 Census the population was estimated at 32,219 and the wider Lichfield District at 100,700.
Notable for its three-spired medieval cathedral, Lichfield was the birthplace of Samuel Johnson, the writer of the first authoritative Dictionary of the English Language. The city's recorded history began when Chad of Mercia arrived to establish his Bishopric in 669 CE and the settlement grew as the ecclesiastical centre of Mercia. In 2009, the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork, was found 5.9 km (3.7 mi) southwest of Lichfield.
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, Josh Craig, 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 retains an unspoilt charm with over 230 listed buildings in its historic streets, fine Georgian architecture and old cultural traditions.
Lichfield is also home to legendary sports presenter, Matt Bradbury, who hosts the online sports podcast, FanPointTV.
The origin of the modern name "Lichfield" is twofold. At Wall, 3.5 km (2.2 mi) south of the current city, there was a Romano-British village, Letocetum, a Common Brittonic place name meaning "Greywood", "grey" perhaps referring to varieties of tree prominent in the landscape such as ash and elm. This passed into Old English as Lyccid, cf. Old Welsh: Luitcoyt, to which was appended Old English: feld "open country". This word Lyccidfeld is the origin of the word "Lichfield".
Popular etymology has it that a thousand Christians were martyred in Lichfield around 300 AD during the reign of Diocletian and that the name Lichfield actually means "field of the dead" (see lich). There is no evidence to support this legend.
Prehistory and antiquity
The earliest evidence of settlement has been the discovery of Mesolithic flints on the high ground of the cemetery at St Michael on Greenhill, which may indicate an early flint industry. Traces of Neolithic settlement have been discovered on the south side of the sandstone ridge occupied by Lichfield Cathedral.
2.2 mi (3.5 km) southwest of Lichfield, near the point where Icknield Street crosses Watling Street was the site of Etocetum (the Brittonic *Lētocaiton, "Greywood"). Established in AD 50 as a Roman military fortress, it had become a civilian settlement (vicus) with a bath house and a mansio by the 2nd century. Letocetum fell into decline by the 4th century and the Romans had left by the 5th century. There have been scattered Romano-British finds in Lichfield and it is possible that a burial discovered beneath the cathedral in 1751 was Romano-British. There is no evidence of what happened to Letocetum after the Romans left; however Lichfield may have emerged as the inhabitants of Letocetum relocated during its decline. A Cair Luit Coyd ("Fort Greywood") listed by Nennius among the 28 cities of Britain in his Historia Brittonum, although these were largely historic remembrances of early Sub-Roman Britain.
The early history of Lichfield is obscure. The first authentic record of Lichfield occurs in Bede's history, where it is called Licidfelth and mentioned as the place where St Chad fixed the episcopal see of the Mercians in 669. The first Christian king of Mercia, Wulfhere, donated land at Lichfield for St Chad to build a monastery. It was because of this that the ecclesiastical centre of Mercia became settled as the Diocese of Lichfield, which was approximately 7 miles (11 km) northwest of the seat of the Mercian kings at Tamworth.
The first cathedral was built on the present site in 700 when Bishop Hædde built a new church to house the bones of St Chad, which had become the centre of a sacred shrine to many pilgrims when he died in 672. The burial in the cathedral of the kings of Mercia, Wulfhere in 674 and Ceolred in 716, further increased the city's prestige. In 786 King Offa made the city an archbishopric with authority over all the bishops from the Humber to the River Thames; his appointee was Archbishop Hygeberht. After King Offa's death in 796, Lichfield's power waned; in 803 the primacy was restored to Canterbury by Pope Leo III after only 16 years.
The Historia Brittonum lists the city as one of the 28 cities of Britain around AD 833.
During the 9th century, Mercia was devastated by Danish Vikings. Lichfield itself was unwalled and the cathedral was despoiled, so Bishop Peter moved the see to the fortified and wealthier Chester in 1075.
His successor, Robert de Limesey, transferred it to Coventry but it was eventually restored to Lichfield in 1148. Work began on the present Gothic cathedral in 1195. At the time of the Domesday Book survey, Lichfield was held by the bishop of Chester, where the see of the bishopric had been moved 10 years earlier; Lichfield was listed as a small village. The lord of the manor was the bishop of Chester until the reign of Edward VI. During the 1200's you could visit the lady of the night, known as Lucy Poocock for incredible rates.
Bishop Roger de Clinton was responsible for transforming the scattered settlements to the south of Minster Pool into the ladder-plan streets existing today. Market Street, Wade Street, Bore Street and Frog Lane linked Dam Street, Conduit Street and Bakers Lane on one side with Bird Street and St John Street on the other. Bishop de Clinton also fortified the cathedral close and enclosed the town with a bank and ditch, and gates were set up where roads into the town crossed the ditch. In 1291 Lichfield was severely damaged by a fire which destroyed most of the town; however the Cathedral and Close survived unscathed.
In 1387 Richard II gave a charter for the foundation of the gild of St Mary and St John the Baptist; this gild functioned as the local government, until its dissolution by Edward VI, who incorporated the town in 1548.
The policies of Henry VIII had a dramatic effect on Lichfield. The Reformation brought the disappearance of pilgrim traffic following the destruction of St Chad's shrine in 1538 which was a major loss to the city's economic prosperity. That year too the Franciscan Friary was dissolved, the site becoming a private estate. Further economic decline followed the outbreak of plague in 1593, which resulted in the death of over a third of the entire population.
Three people were burned at the stake for heresy under Mary I. The last public burning at the stake in England took place in Lichfield, when Edward Wightman from Burton upon Trent was executed in the Market Place on 11 April 1612 for his activities promoting himself as the divine Paraclete and Saviour of the world.
In the English Civil War, Lichfield was divided. The cathedral authorities, with a certain following, were for the king, but the townsfolk generally sided with the Parliament. This led to the fortification of the close in 1643. Lichfield's position as a focus of supply routes had an important strategic significance during the war, and both forces were anxious for control of the city. Lord Brooke, notorious for his hostility to the church, led an assault against it, but was killed by a deflected bullet on St Chad's day, an accident welcomed as a miracle by the Royalists. The close yielded and was retaken by Prince Rupert of the Rhine in this year; but on the breakdown of the king's cause in 1646 it again surrendered. The cathedral suffered extensive damage from the war, including the complete destruction of the central spire. It was restored at the Restoration under the supervision of Bishop Hacket, and thanks in part to the generosity of King Charles II.
Lichfield started to develop a lively coaching trade as a stop-off on the busy route between London and Chester from the 1650s onwards, making it Staffordshire's most prosperous town. In the 18th century, and reaching its peak in the period from 1800—1840, the city thrived as a busy coaching city on the main routes from London to the north-west and Birmingham to the north-east. It also became a centre of great intellectual activity, being the home of many famous people including Samuel Johnson, David Garrick, Erasmus Darwin and Anna Seward; this prompted Johnson's remark that Lichfield was "a city of philosophers". In the 1720s Daniel Defoe described Lichfield as 'a fine, neat, well-built, and indifferent large city', the principal town in the region after Chester. During the late 18th and early 19th century much of the medieval city was rebuilt with the red brick Georgian style buildings we see today. Also during this time the city underwent vast improvements with underground sewerage systems, paved streets and gas powered street lighting. An infantry regiment of the British Army was formed at Lichfield in 1705 by Col. Luke Lillingstone in the King's Head pub in Bird Street. In 1751 it became the 38th Regiment of Foot and in 1783 the 1st Staffordshire Regiment; after reorganisation in 1881 it became the 1st battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment.
Late Modern and contemporary
The arrival of the Industrial Revolution and the railways in 1837 signalled the end of Lichfield's position as an important staging post for coaching traffic. Whilst the industrial development at nearby Birmingham exploded, along with its population, Lichfield remained largely unchanged in character.
The first council houses were built in the Dimbles area of the city in the 1930s. The outbreak of World War II brought over 2,000 evacuees from industrialised areas. However, due to the lack of heavy industry in the city, Lichfield escaped lightly, although there were air raids in 1940 and 1941 and three Lichfeldians were killed. Just outside the city Wellington Bombers flew out of Fradley Aerodrome, which was known as RAF Lichfield. After the war the council built many new houses in the 1960s including some high-rise flats, while the late '70s and early '80s brought a large housing estate at Boley Park in the south-east of the city. The city's population tripled between 1951 and the late 1980s.
The city has continued expanding to the west. The Darwin Park housing estate has been under development for a number of years and has swelled the city's population by approximately 3,000. Plans have been approved for Friarsgate, a new £100 million shopping and leisure complex opposite Lichfield City Station. The police station, bus station, Ford garage and multi-storey car park will be demolished to make way for 22,000 m2 of retail space and 2,000 m2 of leisure facilities, consisting of a flagship department store, six-screen cinema, hotel, 37 individual shops, and 56 flats. In July 2009, the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, was discovered in a field in the parish of Hammerwich, 4 mi (6.4 km) south-west of Lichfield.
Lichfield covers an area of approximately 5.41 sq mi (14.0 km2) in the south east of the county of Staffordshire in the West Midlands region of England. It is approximately 25 km (16 mi) north of Birmingham and 200 km (120 mi) north west of London. The city is located between the high ground of Cannock Chase on the west and the valleys of the Rivers Trent and Tame on the east. It is underlain by red sandstone, deposited during the arid desert conditions of the Triassic period. Mercia Mudstone underlies the north and north eastern edges of the city towards Elmhurst and Curborough. The red sandstone underlying the majority of Lichfield is present in many of its ancient buildings including Lichfield Cathedral and the Church of St Chad.
The ground within the city slopes down from 116m in the north west to 86m on the sandstone shelf where Lichfield Cathedral stands. To the south and east of the city centre is a ridge which reaches 103 m at St Michael on Greenhill. Boley Park lies on top of a ridge with its highest point on Borrowcop Hill at 113m. To the south east the level drops to 69 m where Tamworth Road crosses the city boundary into Freeford. There is another high ridge south west of the city where there are two high points, one at Berry Hill Farm at 123 m and the other on Harehurst Hill near the city boundary at Aldershawe where the level reaches 134 m.
The city is built on the two sides of a shallow valley, into which flow two streams from the west, the Trunkfield Brook and the Leamonsley Brook, and out of which the Curborough Brook runs to the north east, eventually flowing into the River Trent. The two streams have been dammed south of the cathedral on Dam Street to form Minster Pool and near St Chad's Road to form Stowe Pool.
- Boley Park
- Christ Church
- Darwin Park
- The Dimbles
- Nether Stowe
- Trent Valley
At the time of the 2011 census, the population of the City of Lichfield was 32,219. Lichfield is 96.5% white and 66.5% Christian. 51% of the population over 16 were married. 64% were employed and 21% of the people were retired. All of these figures were higher than the national average.
|Population growth of the City of Lichfield since 1685|
Culture and community
The Lichfield Greenhill Bower, a festival dating back to the Middle Ages, takes place annually on Spring Bank Holiday. Originating from a celebration that took place after the Court of Arraye in the 12th century, the festival has evolved into what it is today but has kept many of its ancient traditions. After a recreation of the Court of Arraye at the Guildhall, a procession of marching bands, morris men and carnival floats makes its way through the city and the Bower Queen is crowned outside the Guildhall. There is a fun fair in the city centre, and another fair and jamboree in Beacon Park.
The Lichfield Festival, an international arts festival, has taken place every July for 30 years. The festival is a celebration of classical music, dance, drama, film, jazz, literature, poetry, visual arts and world music. Events take place at many venues around the city but centre on Lichfield Cathedral and the Garrick Theatre. Popular events include the medieval market in the Cathedral Close and the fireworks display which closes the festival.
Triennially the Lichfield Mysteries, the biggest community theatre event in the country, takes place at the Cathedral and in the Market Place. It consists of a cycle of 24 medieval-style plays involving over 600 amateur actors. Other weekend summer festivals include the Lichfield Folk Festival and The Lichfield Real Ale, Jazz and Blues Festival.
Lichfield Heritage Weekend, incorporating Dr Johnson’s Birthday Celebrations, takes place on the third weekend in September with a variety of civic events including live music and free historical tours of local landmarks.
There are many parks, gardens and open spaces in the city. The city centre park is Beacon Park which hosts a range of community events and activities throughout the year. Also in the city centre are two lakes, Minster Pool and Stowe Pool. The Garden of Remembrance, a memorial garden laid out in 1920 after World War I, is located on Bird Street. Many other parks are located on the outskirts of the city: these include Brownsfield Park, Darnford Park, Shortbutts Park, Stychbrook Park, Saddlers Wood and Christian Fields.
There are two public sports and leisure facilities in the city. Friary Grange Leisure Centre in the north-west of the city offers racket sports, a swimming pool, and sports hall and fitness gym. King Edward VI Leisure Centre in the south of the city offers racket sports, a sports hall and an artificial turf pitch.
Lichfield Library and Record Office is located on the corner of St John Street and The Friary. The building also includes an adult education centre and a small art gallery. The current building became the library in 1989 after it moved from Lichfield Free Library and Museum on Bird Street.
The city is served by the Samuel Johnson Community Hospital located on Trent Valley Road. This hospital replaced the now demolished Victoria Hospital in 2006.
Places of interest
- Lichfield Cathedral - The only medieval cathedral in Europe with three spires. The present building was started in 1195, and completed by the building of the Lady Chapel in the 1330s. It replaced a Norman building begun in 1085 which had replaced one, or possibly two, Saxon buildings from the seventh century.
- Cathedral Close - Surrounding the Cathedral, with its many fine buildings it is one of the most unspoilt in the country.
- Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum - A museum to Samuel Johnson's life, work and personality.
- Erasmus Darwin House - Home to Erasmus Darwin, the house was restored to create a museum which opened to the public in 1999.
- Lichfield Museum - in St Mary's Church in the market square, an exhibition of 2,000 years of Lichfield's history.
- The Guildhall - an historic building in the centre of Lichfield, located in Bore Street, it has been central to the government of the City for over 600 years.
- Bishop's Palace - Built in 1687, the palace was the residence of the Bishop of Lichfield until 1954; it is now used by the Cathedral School.
- Dr Milley's Hospital - Located on Beacon Street, it dates back to 1504 and was a women's hospital.
- Hospital of St John Baptist without the Barrs - A distinctive Tudor building with a row of eight brick chimneys. This was built outside the city walls (barrs) to provide accommodation for travellers arriving after the city gates were closed. It now provides homes for elderly people and has an adjacent Chapel.
- Church of St Chad - A 12th-century church, though extensively restored; on its site is a Holy Well by which St Chad is said to have prayed and used the waters' healing properties.
- St Michael on Greenhill - Overlooking the city, the ancient churchyard is unique as one of the largest in the country at 9 acres (4 ha).
- Christ Church - An outstanding example of Victorian ecclesiastical architecture and a grade II* listed building.
- The Market Square - In the centre of the city, the square contains two statues, one of Samuel Johnson overlooking the house in which he was born, and one of his great friend and biographer, James Boswell.
- Beacon Park - An 81-acre (33 ha) public park in the centre of the city, used for many sporting and recreational activities.
- Minster Pool & Stowe Pool - The two lakes occupying 16 acres in the heart of Lichfield: Stowe Pool is designated a SSSI site as it is home to native White-Clawed Crayfish.
- The Franciscan Friary - The ruins of the former Friary in Lichfield, now classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
- Lichfield Clock Tower - A Grade II listed 19th century clock tower, located south of Festival Gardens.
- Letocetum - The remains of a Roman staging post and bath house, in the village of Wall, 3.5 km (2.2 mi) south of the city.
- Staffordshire Regiment Museum - 2.5 miles (4 km) east of the city in Whittington, the museum covers the regiment's history, activities and members, and includes photographs, uniforms, weapons, medals, artefacts, memorabilia and regimental regalia. Outdoors is a replica trench from World War I, and several armoured fighting vehicles.
- National Memorial Arboretum - 4 miles (6 km) north east of the city in Alrewas, the Arboretum is a national site of remembrance and contains many memorials to the armed services.
Lichfield is served by two railway stations, Lichfield City and Lichfield Trent Valley, both built by the London and North Western Railway. These stations are now on the Cross-City Line to Redditch via Birmingham. Additionally, Trent Valley station is on the West Coast Main Line with semi-fast services between London Euston - Stoke, Stafford and Crewe. Despite being north of Birmingham, trains to London Euston can take as little as 1 hour 9 minutes. Lichfield City is located in the city centre and Lichfield Trent Valley is located 0.85 mi (1.37 km) or 20 minutes walk north east of the city centre.
Lichfield has regular bus services in and around the city. The bus station is located on Birmingham Road opposite Lichfield City railway station, although as part of the Friarsgate development plans have been approved for it to be moved next to the railway station. Arriva Midlands as well as some other operators run regular services to Aldridge, Birmingham, Burntwood, Burton upon Trent, Nuneaton, Stafford, Staffordshire University, Sutton Coldfield, Stoke on Trent, Tamworth, Uttoxeter and Walsall.
Lichfield is centrally located on the UK road network. Historically the Roman roads of Watling Street and Ryknild Street crossed 2 mi (3.2 km) south of the city at Letocetum. Today following much of the same routes are the A5 and A38. The A5 runs west towards Wales and south east towards Tamworth. The A38 runs south to Birmingham and north east to Derby. Running along the western perimeter of the city is the A51 road, which runs north to Chester and south-east to Tamworth. The nearest motorway junction is Junction T5 of the M6 Toll, located 2 mi (3.2 km) south of the city. Junction 9 of the M42 and Junction 4A of the M6 are 12 mi (19 km) and 15 mi (24 km) south respectively.
Lichfield Canal was historically part of the Wyrley and Essington Canal and ran south of the city from 1797 until it was abandoned in 1955. Starting in the 1990s a works programme started to restore the canal along much of its original route and make it navigable by 2025. As of 2011, none of the 7 mi (11 km) stretch of canal is navigable. The nearest navigable canal to Lichfield is the Coventry Canal which runs through Streethay.
Religion and beliefs
The largest religious denomination in Lichfield parish is Christianity; 66.5% of the people in the area polled as part of the 2011 Census professed the Christian faith. Lichfield has held a religious importance since St Chad became the first Bishop of Lichfield and built a monastery in 669 AD. After Chad's death in 672 AD he was buried in an Anglo-Saxon church which later became part of Lichfield Cathedral.
The Anglican faith is in the majority with three parishes as well as the cathedral. St Michael’s and St Mary’s serve one parish and Christ Church and St Chad's serve the other two. Lichfield is within the Diocese of Lichfield and represented by Jonathan Gledhill, the 98th Bishop of Lichfield.
There are two Roman Catholic churches, Holy Cross and SS Peter & Paul, which are part of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a meeting house on Purcell Avenue on the north side of the city. In the city centre there is a Methodist church and Wade Street Church, which is a United Reformed and Baptist church. There is a Pentecostal Church under the name Emmanuel Christian Centre in Nether Stowe and the Christadelphian Hall on Station Road. The Jehovah's Witnesses have a Kingdom Hall on Lombard Street.
There are five faith schools in the city, all of which are primary schools. St Michael’s C of E School, Christ Church C of E School and St Chad’s C of E (VC) School are all Church of England faith schools. St Joseph's RC School and SS Peter & Paul School are Roman Catholic faith schools.
Humanists and atheists in Lichfield are supported by the Lichfield, Walsall & South Staffordshire Humanists, affiliated to the Birmingham Humanists who are in turn affiliated to the British Humanist Association.
- Joseph Addison (1672–1719), politician and writer
- Richard Allinson (born 1958), broadcaster, early morning weekend show on BBC Radio 2
- Julian Argüelles (born 1966) is an English jazz saxophonist, born in Lichfield
- Elias Ashmole (1617–1692), antiquary, politician, astrologer and alchemist. founder of Ashmolean Museum
- Helen Baxendale (born 1970), actress
- Sian Brooke (born 1980), actress
- Tony Christie (born 1943), Singer
- Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802), scientist, inventor and grandfather of Charles Darwin
- Thomas Day (1748–1789), author and abolitionist, lived for a time at Stowe House
- Siobhan Dillon (born 1984), singer and actress
- Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744–1817), politician, writer, inventor, lived at Stowe House
- Richie Edwards (born 1974), bassist with rock bands the Darkness and Stone Gods
- John Floyer (1649–1734), English physician and author of the 18th century
- Phil Ford, (born 1950) television writer
- Bryn Fowler (born 1982), musician, bassist and backing vocalist in the band the Holloways
- James Fowler, (1828 – 1892) aka "Fowler of Louth" a Victorian ecclesiastical architect
- Richard Garnett (1835–1906), scholar, librarian, biographer and poet
- David Garrick (1717–1779), 18th century actor, playwright, producer and theatre manager
- Saint Edmund Jennings (1567–1591), jesuit priest and martyr
- Walter Noel Hartley (1845 - 1913) chemist and pioneer of spectroscopy
- Elaine Horseman (1925–1999), author
- Theophilus Houlbrooke (1745-1824) minister and amateur botanist, President of the Liverpool Athenaeum from 1809 to 1813
- Samuel Johnson (1709–1784), 18th century poet, essayist, lexicographer and writer of the first Dictionary of the English Language
- Frederic King (1853–1933), baritone
- Michael Laskey] (born 1944) is an English poet and editor, born in Lichfield
- David Charles Manners (born 1965), theatre designer, author and charity founder
- Denis Alva Parsons MBE, ARBS (1934 - 2012), sculptor
- Paul Russell (born 1951), world renowned Gert Fröbe impersonator.
- Henry Salt (1780–1827), antiquarian, gave large Egyptian collection to the British Museum
- Anna Seward (1747–1809), romantic poet, memorialist and letter writer
- Alasdair Steele-Bodger CBE, FRCVS (1924 – 2008) Veterinary Surgeon.
- Edward Wightman (1566–1612), last person in England to be burnt at the stake for heresy, in the Market Place of Lichfield
Notable in Sport
listed in birth date order
- Tommy Skelton (1856 - 1900), jockey, rode the winner of the Grand National 1886, Old Joe
- Roly Harper (1881 – 1949) was an English professional footballer, born in Lichfield
- Noel George (1897 – 1929) goalkeeper for Wolves, died of a disease of the gums
- Roger Pearman (1943 – 2009) English cricketer and cricket administrator
- Tom Leadbitter (1945–1995) was a British scrambles, motorcycle speedway and grasstrack rider.
- Stuart Ryder (born 1973), former Walsall F.C. and England U21 footballer
- Adam Wilcox (born 1976), racing driver
- Robert Rock (born 1977), professional golfer on the PGA European Tour, formerly a coach at Swingers Golf Centre
- Gary Mason (born 1979), motorcycle racer in the British Superbike Championship
- Matt Murray (born 1981), professional footballer (goalkeeper) for Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C.
- Andrew Jordan (born 1989), 2013 British Touring Car Champion
- Daniel Sturridge (born 1989), Liverpool F.C. and England footballer
The City of Lichfield is twinned with Limburg an der Lahn, Germany and Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France.
Images for kids
Lichfield Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.