St Mary’s Church is a city centre multi-purpose space located on the south side of the market square in the heart of Lichfield. In 2013 the building had “in the Market Square” added to its name, also becoming home to the Tourist Information service run by Lichfield District Council.
There are references to a church being built on the site since at least 1150, although the current Grade II listed building dates from 1870. The current St Mary’s building was crafted in a Victorian Gothic style from Derbyshire sandstone, taking 2 years to complete, under the watch of famed architect James Fowler of Louth.
From the 1930s onwards, the population living in Lichfield city centre declined as people moved out to the suburbs with businesses moving into the space. This led to a noticeable reduction in the size of congregation at St Mary’s and so a city centre building with capacity for 900 people was no longer viable without intervention.
A committee was set up in the 1970s to help save the historic building from demolition or redevelopment. The idea was proposed of turning the building into a multi-functional space that would serve the wider community.
Following a period of redevelopment, St Mary’s opened in 1981 as a social centre, café, gift shop and museum. In 1995 a local photo archive was opened at the Centre and now boasts over 12,000 items. The Museum tells Lichfield’s local history and includes a sizeable of military, church and civic silverware. It was known as Lichfield Heritage Centre until 2014.
St Mary’s in the Market Square now serves a variety of purposes such as social centre for senior citizens, coffee shop and city museum, which brings together 2,000 years of Lichfield history. The church still operates for religious services in a chapel at its eastern end.
The Hub at St Mary’s is a multi-use arts & heritage venue contained within. Dedicated to providing Lichfield with a welcoming and inclusive community venue, it offers a diverse program of high-quality Arts, Music and Theatre. It is a venue dedicated to promoting activities for families and young people, being committed to showcasing diverse work from people from all backgrounds.
Over the past couple of decades, the building has also seen substantial investment in order to accommodate Lichfield Library on the ground floor with access to over 100,000 books and audio-visual resources. The multi-functional space at St Mary’s has also hosted numerous exhibitions, including that celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Lichfield Mercury in 2015.
The flexible open space on the first floor has a mezzanine overlooking the Dyott Chapel and integrates a 140-seat area for performances, art exhibitions and workshops. A partnership with Richard Winterton Auctioneers means that St Mary’s will also antique displays and special events as part of the venue’s busy calendar.