What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
THE BIRTHPLACE OF DR. JOHNSON
=How to get there.=–Train from Euston. L. and N.W. Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Lichfield. =Distance from London.=–118 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 2 to 3-3/4 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 16s. 9d. 10s. 9d. 9s. 8-1/2d. Return 33s. 6d. 21s. 5d. 19s. 5d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Swan Hotel,” “George Hotel,” etc.
Lichfield, though an ancient town, has now a modern appearance, but is interesting on account of its beautiful cathedral and its association with Dr. Johnson. The house where the “great lexicographer” was born is still to be seen in the market-place, very little altered from its original condition. Next to this house is the Three Crowns Inn, where Dr. Johnson and Boswell stayed when they visited Lichfield in 1776. Among the few old houses that are remaining are St. John’s Hospital, rebuilt in 1495, and the Friary, part of an establishment of Grey Friars, now forming a portion of a private house.
Lichfield has been a bishop’s see since Anglo-Saxon times, and among its earliest bishops was St. Chad, who advanced Christianity in England. For a short period Lichfield boasted an archbishop, during the reign of Offa, king of Mercia, who persuaded the Pope to grant his kingdom this honour. No trace of any Anglo-Saxon building is left, and of the Norman church that was next erected only the west part of the choir remains. The present cathedral, built in the Early English style of Gothic, was commenced about 1200, and was not finished until 1325, builders being employed all the time. Though numbered among the smaller cathedrals, Lichfield is very beautiful, possessing a great charm in the ruddiness of the stone used in its construction. Its most striking features are the three graceful spires, the sculptured west front, and the large Lady Chapel. Owing, unfortunately, to its being fortified, the cathedral suffered much damage when besieged by the Roundheads during the Civil War. Windows and statues were broken, brass stripped from the tombs, registers burned, but the worst calamity was the destruction of the central tower. After the Restoration the cathedral was carefully repaired, greatly due to the efforts of good Bishop Hacket, who spent his time and money upon the work. The central spire was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL.
Showing the richly-sculptured west front, and the central tower rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren.]