Located right at the heart of the city, Lichfield Cathedral is a treasured landmark in the heart of the country that has an eye-catching appearance, interesting history and traditional service life.
The cathedral offers much to explore with over 1300 years of history, being a unique building in the UK as the only medieval Cathedral boasting three spires.
The Close where the Cathedral is based was originally a fortified space, with stone walls surrounding on three sides, with the Minister Pool providing a natural barrier to the south.
The history of Lichfield Cathedral is full of turbulence, after the site was dedicated to St Chad when he began baptising the Anglo-Saxon people of Mercia in the Stowe Pool. After his death a church was built for a shrine in his memory, which subsequently became a place of pilgrimage. That church was replaced by a full cathedral in the Norman period, being enlarged further during the Middle Ages. After surviving attacks and occupation during the Civil War, and later neglect in the eighteenth century, the Cathedral was restored during the Victorian era and has continued to be a place of worship to this day.
During the rule of parliament and Cromwell in the 17th century, the cathedral fell into serious disrepair, being left roofless and having a number of squatters move in. After the re-establishment of the monarchy in 1660, the restoration of the cathedral began under the watch of Bishop John Hacket and continued by subsequent bishops, although it wasn’t until the Victorian era that the interior of the Cathedral truly regained its original magnificence.
An 8th century carving of the Archangel Gabriel was discovered under the cathedral in 2003. The figure is carved from limestone, and originally a part of a stone chest thought to have contained the relics of St Chad himself, although the rest of the stone chest has been lost over the course of the cathedral’s history.
As with many Cathedrals throughout the UK, Lichfield has an associated school for educating young choristers, but also serves as an independent school for those not attending the Cathedral as well. As far back as 1315, Lichfield Cathedral has provided a place for educating young boys, and the history of the school is as fascinating as that of the cathedral itself.