Lichfield: A hidden treasure and a source of inspiration.
Society members take inspiration from the beautiful city and district in which they live. Lichfield (population ca. 32,000) is a cathedral city steeped in heritage with a thriving arts community. Notable for its three-spired medieval cathedral, Lichfield was the birthplace of Samuel Johnson, the writer of the first authoritative ‘Dictionary of the English Language’.
The city’s recorded history began when Saint Chad established his bishopric in Lichfield in 669 AD which led to its subsequent development as the ecclesiastical centre of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. In 2009, the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest-ever discovery of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork, was discovered in a field just a few miles to the southwest of the city.
Lichfield’s heyday was in the 18th century when it developed into a bustling coaching city and a centre of great intellectual and creative activity. The house of the extraordinary polymath Erasmus Darwin, situated just a stone’s throw from the cathedral, was a favoured meeting location of the eminent Lunar Society whose members included Matthew Boulton, James Watt and Josiah Wedgwood. It was also the home of many famous people, including the great actor David Garrick and the romantic poetess Anna Seward, prompting Johnson’s remark that Lichfield was ‘a city of philosophers’.
Today, the city remains important as an ecclesiastical centre. Industrial and commercial development has been limited and the centre of the city retains much of its unspoilt charm with over 230 listed buildings in its historic streets and many fine examples of Georgian architecture. The surrounding countryside is characterised by farmland, mineral quarries, examples of rare ancient woodland and picturesque canalways.
Of importance as the UK’s centre of remembrance is the nearby National Memorial Arboretum, set in 150 acres of maturing woodland within the National Forest.