The vibrant city of Lichfield is a historic part of Staffordshire, just north of Birmingham, and right at the heart of the Midlands. A smaller city that is full of history and things to discover, Lichfield’s streets are filled with independent shops, fascinating museums, excellent restaurants and luxury accommodation.
Even though city status is often related to population size, Lichfield was made a city due to the presence of the cathedral. The city’s wealth grew due to it being an ecclesiastical centre, particularly before the reformation when pilgrims gathered to worship at the shrine of St Chad.
Lichfield has a plaque naming it to be England’s furthest point from the sea – a distance of 84 miles. There is some debate about this claim however, as Coton in the Elms, a village in Derbyshire, is estimated to be the furthest from coastal waters in the UK with a distance of just 70 miles. The confusion seems to come about based on what counts as the edge of the sea, whether it includes tidal waters, estuaries, or seaside resorts.
Known as the birthplace of Samuel Johnson, author of the 1755 “A Dictionary of the English Language” Lichfield has a rich and varied history. A couple of Georgian era properties in the city have been turned into museums celebrating the birthplace of Dr Johnson, and Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of famed evolutionary biologist Charles.
Named after 18th century actor David Garrick, the Lichfield Garrick Theatre is an award-winning venue that is used by both local and travelling companies. Opened in 2003, the Garrick replaced the old Arts Centre and Civic Hall as the primary stage venue in the City. There are regular programmes and activities run for amateur dramatics and youth theatre.
The Cathedral at the centre of the city has been a focal point in Lichfield throughout the ages. Following Henry VIII’s break from Rome and subsequent Reformation, the act of worship at Lichfield Cathedral changed dramatically. It was at this time that the shrine to St Chad was removed, altars and adornment of any kind were destroyed or removed, and the Cathedral became a solemn, sombre place. In 2003, a sculpted panel of the angel Gabriel was found under the nave and was thought to have been part of a stone chest containing the relics of St Chad.
Based in a Tudor-style building, and despite sharing a name, The Cathedral Hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the cathedral and offers a range of commodities to give a comfy and relaxing stay in the city. The family-owned hotel offers a warm Staffordshire welcome from a team who will go out of their way to ensure you feel right at home.
From fine art to motor vehicles and equestrian supplies to hand crafted guitars, there is a broad spectrum of industry based in and around Lichfield. Over the city’s history there has never been one dominant area of local economy, and that continues to this day. Armitage Shanks, the iconic manufacturer of bathroom and plumbing supplies, was founded in nearby Armitage by Thomas Bond in 1817. One of the main factories is still located in the village, roughly 6 miles from the centre of Lichfield.
Part of a wider district, overseen by the Lichfield District Council, the area of Lichfield and its surrounds are partly residential suburban and partly rural, with a large amount of land still dedicated to agricultural practice.
As well as notable residents Samuel Johnson and Erasmus Darwin, other notable people connected with Lichfield include The Darkness bassist Richie Edwards, actress Sian Brooke, antiquarian Henry Salt and Elias Ashmole, the founder of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.