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Lichfield

Lichfield

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For other uses, see Litchfield.
City of Lichfield
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Statistics
Population: 27,900
Ordnance Survey
OS grid reference:SK115097
Administration
District: Lichfield
Shire county: Staffordshire
Region: West Midlands
Constituent country:England
Sovereign state:United Kingdom
Other
Ceremonial county: Staffordshire
Historic county: Staffordshire
Services
Police force: Staffordshire Police
Fire and rescue: {{{Fire}}}
Ambulance:Staffordshire
Post office and telephone
Post town: LICHFIELD
Postal district: WS13, WS14
Dialling code: 01543
Politics
UK Parliament: Lichfield
European Parliament: West Midlands
Image:Flag of England.svg
Image:LichfieldCath1.jpg
The West Front of Lichfield Cathedral, June 2005

Lichfield (Welsh: Caerlwytgoed) is a small city and civil parish in Staffordshire, 110 miles northwest of London and 14 miles north of Birmingham. It is famous for its three-spired cathedral and as the birthplace of Dr. Johnson, the writer of the first Dictionary of the English Language. Today it still retains its old importance as an ecclesiastical centre, but its industrial development is relatively small. The centre of the city thus retains an essentially old-world character, with pockets of historic charm and attractiveness. It is the main town in the Lichfield district. The population of the district according to the 2001 census is 93,237; of the city itself 27,900.

Contents

[edit] History

At Wall, 3 miles to the south of the present city, there was a Romano-British village called Letocetum (from the Celtic for "grey wood"), from which the first half of the name Lichfield is derived. It was based on a Roman fort next to Watling Street which was used in the first centuries AD, until about AD 160-170, when the fort's mansio was destroyed by fire at the same time the forum in Wroxeter was also destroyed by fire. This suggests a revolt of the local British. The history of Lichfield in the following centuries is obscure. The Historia Britonum lists the city as one of the 28 cities of Britain. In the Welsh poem The Lament of Cynddylan, Caer Luytcoed (cf modern Welsh CaerlwytgoedLichfield) or Lichfield is said to have been taken by the sword by pagan opponents, most likely the Mercians to the east.

The first authentic notice 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 burial in the cathedral of individual kings of Mercia, such as Celred in 716, further increased the prestige of Lichfield. In 786, Pope Adrian I raised it at the request of Offa, King of Mercia, to the dignity of an archbishopric, but in 803 the primacy was restored to Canterbury. In 1075 the see of Lichfield was removed to Chester, and thence a few years later to Coventry, but it was restored to Lichfield in 1148. At the time of the Domesday survey, Lichfield was held by the bishop of Chester, where the see of the bishopric had been moved in 1075: it is not called a borough, only a small village. The lordship and manor of the town were held by the bishop of Chester until the reign of Edward VI, when they were leased to the town corporation.

There is evidence that a castle existed here in the time of Henry I, and a footpath near the grammar school retains the name of Castle-ditch. Richard II gave a charter (1387) 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, vesting the government in two bailiffs and twenty-four burgesses; further charters were given by Mary, James I and Charles II (1664), the last, incorporating it under the title of the "bailiffs and citizens of the city of Lichfield," was the governing charter until 1835; under this charter the governing body consisted of two bailiffs and twenty-four brethren.

Lichfield sent two members to the parliament of 1304 and to a few succeeding parliaments, but the representation did not become regular until 1552; in 1867 it lost one member, and in 1885 its representation was merged in that of the county. By the charter of James I, the market day was changed from Wednesday to Tuesday and Friday; the Tuesday market disappeared during the 19th century; the only existing fair is a small pleasure fair of ancient origin held on Ash Wednesday; the annual fête on Whit Monday claims to date from the time of Alfred the Great.

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, and 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 to control 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. It was subsequently restored, particularly the central spire, at the end of the common wealth period, thanks in part to the gratitude and generosity of King Charles II of England. There is a statue of Charles II by the south door of the Cathedral.

During the 18th century the city thrived as a busy coaching city on the main route to the northwest and Ireland. 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". Today the city continues to expand; to the west, a new area of housing has been under development for a number of years.

[edit] Economy

Image:Tudorcafe.jpg
The Tudor Café in Bore Street was built in 1510

Lichfield's wealth grew along with its importance as an ecclesiastical centre. The original settlement prospered as the place where pilgrims gathered to worship at the shrine of St Chad, this practise continued up until the Reformation when the shrine was destroyed.

In the Middle Ages the main industry in Lichfield was making woollen cloth. There was also a leather industry in Lichfield. Much of the surrounding area was open pasture and there were many surrounding farms.

In the 18th century, Lichfield became a busy coaching centre, there was little industry, the main source of wealth to the city coming from the money generated by its many visitors. The invention of the railways saw the decline in coach travel and with it came the decline in Lichfield's prosperity.

By the end of the 19th century, brewing was the principal industry, and in the neighbourhood were large market gardens.

Today there are a number of light industrial areas predominantly in the east of the city, not dominated by any one particular industry. The district is famous for two local products: Armitage Shanks, manufacturers of baths/bidets and showers, and Arthur Price of England, master cutlers and silversmiths. Many residents commute to Birmingham.

[edit] Famous Lichfeldians

Image:Johnsonstatue2.jpg
Statue of Dr. Johnson in Lichfield's Market Square

The Earl of Lichfield's seat is about 15 miles away at Shugborough Hall, on the edge of Cannock Chase.

[edit] Places of interest

  • Lichfield Cathedral — England's only medieval Cathedral 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.
  • King Edward VI School — regarded as one of the best schools in the area.
  • The Bishop's Palace (built 1687) and a theological college (built 1837) are adjacent to the cathedral.
  • Milley's Hospital dates back to 1504 and was a women's hospital.
  • St.John's without the Bars — a distinctive Tudor building with a row of seven tall brick chimneys. This was built outside the city walls (bars) to provide hostel accommodation for travellers arriving after the gates were shut. It now provides home for elderly Gentlemen and has an adjacent Chapel.
  • The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum —a museum to Samuel Johnson's life, work and personality.
  • The Lichfield Heritage Centre — in the market square, an exhibition of 2000 years of Lichfield's history.
  • Erasmus Darwin House — once home to Erasmus Darwin was restored to create a museum which opened to the public in 1999.
  • The Church of St Chad — ancient though extensively restored; on its site St Chad or Ceadda is said to have occupied a hermit's cell.
  • Christ Church Lichfield — an example of Victorian ecclesiastical architecture and a grade II* listed building. It was founded in 1847 by Ellen Jane Hinckley, the mother of “The Sleeping Children” — subject of a monument in the south choir aisle of Lichfield Cathedral. The choir ceiling is decorated with a recently restored tempera picture by John Dixon Batten of the Birmingham pre-Raphaelite school (1897).
  • The Market 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.
  • Lichfield Canal — a disused canal that used to run from Ogley Junction on the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations, continuing close to the city and on to Huddlesford Junction, on the Coventry Canal. Most of the old route has been filled in and it is currently being repaired by Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust.

[edit] Other items of interest

  • Legend has it that a thousand Christians were martyred in Lichfield around AD 300, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and that the name 'Lichfield' actually means 'field of the dead'. There is however, no evidence to support this legend.
  • In 1291 Lichfield was severely damaged by a fire, which destroyed many buildings. In 1690 thatched roofs were banned in Lichfield because of the risk of fire.
  • The motto on Lichfield's coat of arms quotes Samuel Johnson's tribute to his native city in his Dictionary, "Salve, magna parens" — "Hail great Mother".
  • Each year there is an International Arts Festival based primarily around the cathedral. Spin off events include a fringe festival, jazz, blues and Real Ale Festival and a Medieaval Market.
  • Once every three years, The Lichfield Mystery Play cycle is performed in the Cathedral, the Market Place and on Stowe Fields. The next cycle is due in 2006.
  • Lichfield Cricket Club nick-named after the cathedral: 'Three Spires', is a thriving club which plays at Collins Hill.
  • The furthest point in England from high tide mark (including tidal rivers) is between Hammerwich and Wall, to the south west of Lichfield. It is 56 miles from high tide mark.

[edit] Twinnings

The City of Lichfield is twinned with:

[edit] Transport

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 occasional trains to London and more frequent local trains.

[edit] Energy policy

In May 2006, a report commissioned by British Gas [1] showed that housing in Lichfield produced the 16th highest average carbon emissions in the country at 7,118 kg of carbon dioxide per dwelling.

See also: Energy efficiency in British housing.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links



Ceremonial county of Staffordshire Image:Arms-staffs.jpg
Unitary authorities: Stoke-on-Trent
Boroughs/Districts: Cannock Chase • East Staffordshire • Lichfield • Newcastle-under-Lyme • South Staffordshire • Stafford • Staffordshire Moorlands • Tamworth
Cities/Towns: Biddulph • Burntwood • Burton upon Trent • Cannock • Cheadle • Eccleshall • Hednesford • Kidsgrove • Leek • Lichfield • Newcastle-under-Lyme • Penkridge • Rugeley • Stafford • Stoke-on-Trent (Burslem • Fenton • Hanley • Longton • Stoke • Tunstall) • Stone • Tamworth • Uttoxeter
See also: List of civil parishes in Staffordshire


 
Places with City status in England
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Lichfield

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