Woolly says – It was time for another trip out and with the sun doing it’s best to warm the country, we couldn’t ask for better, well until Jo informed me that she had already been to that day’s destination!
He really does seem to think that I never went anywhere before his arrival!
Woolly says – As we sat on the train, she proceeded to fill me in on her previous experience of Lichfield which appeared to concern sugar mice and haircuts, not quite what I had on the agenda. I’d lived not far from the city when I was around 11 for a year or so, the sugar mice were something that my grandmother used to buy for me….the thought of them now makes my teeth hurt…. From the Tudor Café, which was usually proceeded by a haircut or trim. On a busy Saturday my Mother had left me at the hairdressers for the usual removal of half an inch on my waist length hair only to return to find that I now had a mere half an inch of fuzz on my head, she wasn’t best pleased. Woolly says – I peered at Jo’s hair and wondered how stupid she must have looked as a skinhead. Lichfield is around 16 miles from Birmingham and has had settlers since 669 AD. In 2009, the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork, was found 3.7 miles south-west of Lichfield. Alighting from the train I looked around me and having spotted the spires of the cathedral set off through the narrow lanes and streets to track it down.
As we reached the large pool of water which had once supplied the city my small companion had his first proper sighting of the tremendous building.
Woolly says – Our very own Notre Dam possibly and certainly close to the wonders of the Cathedral in Milan, it was stunning. Lichfield Cathedral is the only medieval English cathedral with three spires originally built in 1195 on the foundations of a Norman Cathedral. Dedicated to St Chad and Saint Mary, its internal length is 113 metres (370 feet) with the central spire a massive 77metres (252′) high. Lichfield suffered severe damage during the English Civil War in which all of the stained glass was destroyed. In spite of this the windows contain some of the finest medieval Flemish painted glass in existence as well as some fine windows by Betton and Evans (1819).
Having waited for Jo to finish snapping away I was eager to explore inside; a very kind lady gave us a leaflet as we entered and pointed us in the tour direction. The craftsmanship was incredible with every wall and corner sporting carved heads or delicate detailing of flowers and leaves, as we wandered through the stained glass drew my eyes towards each separate window, each beautifully made and maintained. We arrived at an area called the Pedilavium where the feet of pilgrims had once been washed, although on closer inspection I failed to find any of the nasty wet stuff that would have allowed this to happen and I’m fairly sure that wet wipes weren’t a thing in those days.
Large caskets were everywhere with extremely well sculptured bodies of the deceased including one known as the ‘Sleeping Children’ which celebrated the life to two small girls who had died from diseases of the time. A small door opened in the wall and a man popped out, having checked around me I crept towards it and scampered up the step stairs to find myself in St Chad’s Head Chapel, where the saints head is supposed to be placed, I searched high and low but failed to find it.
Having caught up with the small one I had to laugh as he burrowed under the seats and behind the curtains in the lovely little chapel on his quest for a head.
Woolly says – Feeling slightly disappointed at my lack of head finds, we headed back into the sunshine. Passing some of the lovely Tudor buildings we paused at the café and purveyor of sugar mice, I peered through the window and could see trays of them lined up on the counter ready for a new generation to enjoy.
Jo pointed out the building that had seen the fall of her tresses before we turned a corner and found ourselves at Dr Johnsons house, I hoped he was ready for guests. A lovely lady greeted us warmly and as Jo stood and chatted, I started my mission of discovery, Samuel Johnson (18th September 1709 to 7th September 1784), often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Born in Lichfield in this very house, he is probably best known for his Dictionary of the English Language which was published in 1755. It had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been acclaimed as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship”. A gent I was looking forward to meeting. Bouncing down the stairs into the old kitchen I wondered if he had the kettle on, sadly the small dark area was devoid of people it was set out as it would have been in Samuel’s younger days when he lived there with his bookbinder Father.
Having climbed back up the stairs I checked out his Father’s workroom to see if he might be there, lots and lots of books but no Dr Johnson, I moved towards the next floor. The house was well presented and gave us short but useful information boards on the life of Samuel Johnson, just enough to read and not enough to get tired off. Woolly says – I found myself in a small room where a screen filled us in on more details of his life and work and some of his famous friends which had included Rubens and the well known actor of the time David Garrick. The next floor gave us display cases of his possessions and books that had been written by him and about him, given the number of biographies he really must have done as much as I have in his lifetime. A copy of his great dictionary provided a chance to look up words although sadly mammoth wasn’t in it which seemed strange as we had been around prior to the book’s compilation.
As we arrived in the attic it appeared that the man himself must be out for lunch which seemed like a sensible idea given the rumbling noise coming from my tummy. A most interesting place to visit and even better it was free which might mean Jo had enough money to treat me to a sugar mouse!