Thursday, March 08, 2007


Lichfield is a lovely town in Staffordshire that with some important eighteenth century literary connections: Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield, and the town was at various times the home of Joseph Addison, the great Shakespearean actor David Garrick, the poet Anna Seward ("the Swan of Lichfield"), and Erasmus Darwin—scientist, poet, and grandfather of Charles Darwin. Lichfield also has an impressive cathedral—England's only three-spired cathedral. The building was heavily damaged in the English Civil War, which raged with particular intensity around Lichfield, and major restorations were undertaken under the direction of the great Victorian architect, Gilbert Scott.

Memorial to Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) in Lichfield Cathedral. Darwin's house is opposite the cathedral, in the cathedral close.

The Sleeping Children. A famous monument to two young sisters who died in 1812.

The Herckenrode Glass in the Lady Chapel. This fine 16th century Flemish glass was purchased for the cathedral in the early 19th century (click to enlarge for more detail). The glass was removed from France during the French Revolution, and eventually made its way to London. For a recent BBC story about 16th c. European (in this case, German) glass in an English church, click here.

The house where Samuel Johnson was born in 1709. This father was a bookseller in Lichfield. There is still a small used book shop on the ground floor.

The Tudor of Lichfield tea rooms, where we had tea after our arrival in Lichfield. The building was built in 1510. There was extensive street work going on in Lichfield when we visited. The streets of Lichfield were laid out in a grid pattern by Roger de Clinton, the Bishop of Lichfield from 1129 to 1148.

A statue in Beacon Park, across from the entrance to the cathedral close. The statue is of Captain Edward John Smith, the captain of the Titanic, who went down with his ship on its only voyage in 1912. The plaque (click to enlarge) reads, in part: "bequeathing to his countrymen the memory and example of a great heart, a brave life, and a heroic death. Be British." The artist of the statue was Kathleen Scott, the widow of Scott of the Antarctic.

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