Monk's Walk

I discovered this gorgeous garden at the back of Lichfield Library a few weeks ago.  There are plants from the 17th and 18th century, supplied by Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens and Victorian plants from The Walled Garden nursery at Bretby Park, Burton on Trent. The walls running alongside are interesting. There’s a mixture of brick and stone and a bricked up entrance. I’m guessing that it’s called Monk’s Walk in reference to the Friary which once occupied the site, but I’ve yet to find much information about the history of the garden.

Edit 11/10/2011

I’ve found more information on the history of the garden on the Staffordshire Gardens & Park Trusts website.

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46 thoughts on “Monk's Walk

  1. As a Friary kid of the 80’s I remember being shown round “Monk’s Walk” on my first day as a new 1st year pupil (more recently known as year 7). Myself and the rest of the pupils on the tour were told that it was the first and last time we would be allowed to visit the garden as it was off-limits to pupils at all times. We were also told it was haunted by a ghostly monk hence its name “Monk’s Walk”. Thanks for reminding me of times past! Keep up the good work.

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    • Hi Neil, thanks so much for your comment. Wonder why Monk’s Walk was off limits? I have come across the ghostly monk story a few times now, on the Lichfield ghost walk and it’s mentioned in the Hyacinths & Haricot Beans book by Jean Bird. Inevitable given the building’s history I suppose!

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      • Hi Kate, rumour was the teaching staff used to go for a drink and a smoke in the hut that was (or is) still at the end of the walk!

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      • Thanks Lorna. It’s a truly lovely place.

        What time does the working party start & end? I’m sure that if you’d like to publicise any events or working parties, Lichfield Live the community news website would be happy to include something for you. You can get in touch via email at editor@lichfieldlive.co.uk
        Best wishes,
        Kate

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      • Hallo Kate
        we will be in the Garden from 10.30 to 2.00.aproximately. It would be great to see you. I’ve only just come across LL by chance!
        regards Lorna

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  2. There was an excavation quite a few years ago and where the old playing pitches use to be (Now part of the Staffordshire University Campus) there were the graves of Monk’s found. Look up the dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII and Lichfield. The top corridor of what is now the Library is said to wonder the ghost of a lost Monk! Also there is the story of the secret tunnel from the this area to the Cathedral, apparently used during the three sieges of Lichfield during the English Civil War.

    There use to be an archway (May still be there) which on certain occasions you may see the ghost of a Monk pass through! This archway I think formed part of the original Monastery before the buildings that now stand in this area. Also there are the nearby remains of the old City walls which I think you may see part of in your images. Otherwise they can be found kind of opposite Wade Street (Plaque on the wall).

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    • Thanks for the info. According to Jean Bird’s book, there was an article in the Lichfield Mercury in 1992 which suggested that the tunnel also ran to Sandford St. I also heard this story on the Lichfield ghost walk. Apparently, in the 1920s, the ground collapsed under a horse which has somehow made its way onto the site! There is an archway, near to the entrance of the college. I wonder if this is the one you are referring to?

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    • Hallo Lichfeldian
      there is the grave of Richard the merchant set into the back wall or the Friary, but very hard to read. He was probably a lay brother. We do’nt know why Monk’s when it was a Friary ! He might have been a special visitor or a ghost!
      The archway is still there .

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    • I attended the friary school and know that the tunnel to the cathedral actually exists. The entrance was in the floor of the headmasters office i saw it on a few occasions. It was for the monks to use to stay safe from soldiers.

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      • Thanks John, that’s fascinating. I have to admit that I was sceptical about these stories at first – everywhere seems to have its tunnel stories! However, I am getting more and more reports of people who have actually seen them. Someone on Beacon St says there was actually a program filmed inside one of them twenty years or so ago. Perhaps now we’ve set up a ‘Lichfield History Group’ there might be some scope to do a bit more investigation. It’s happened elsewhere and I’d love to see something happen here as so many people are interested.

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  3. I was told the archway was a victorian folly, added to that its lack of context in an architectural sense – naughty 1st years would climb over it and/or jump off the top, not that I’d know! 😉

    The attic of the older side of the school was said to be haunted by some poor soul (ex pupil) who fell through the floor to their death. I think they might have wandered the top corridor as well. Maybe just another story to keep pupils out of the interesting but seriously creepy attic, again I never went up there 😉

    Never heard the one about a tunnel but there was a secret room in the school (half way along the back top corridor if memory serves me well) but sadly it was no bigger than your average wardrobe and by all accounts quite dull!

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    • I’m really enjoying reading these stories about the building, thanks! The Jean Bird book mentions a secret room too and also reports that it turned out to be mundane. Apparently as well as the creepy attic, there are large cellars under the building. It’s a fascinating place, I’d love to have a good look around. Probably not after dark though…. 😉

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  4. In Sandford Street there use to be a pet shop and this is where I think the Friary tunnel goes before going on to the Cathedral. The old pet shop location is a very old building. On the corner of Sandford Street/Bird Street there use to be a furniture shop. The cleaners of this shop on regular occasions said they saw the ghost of a young girl who is said to be trapped in the tunnel. Apparently, the tunnel collapsed in between the old pet shop and the old furniture store at the junction of Sandford Street/ Bird Street. The ghost was said to have wore 17th Century clothing and was seen to be very upset.

    The start of the tunnel is on the lower floor where I think it was a link to the cellars. In the 1980’s there were some investigations of the area which over by the old moat next to the Cathedral had been stopped for some reason.

    Many of the tunnels of Lichfield have never been found! Maybe a Time Team experience!!!

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    • Thanks for expanding on the story. Does the story say why the poor girl was down there in the first place?
      Lichfield’s tunnels…. now there’s an interesting topic. I’ve heard of a few. In fact quite a few, some from the Lichfield ghost walk, some from books, some from someone with a family from Lichfield and some from Mark of Tamworth Time Hikes who once told me to watch where I tread because from all the stories of tunnels it sounds like it’s hollow beneath Lichfield! Maybe a post on tunnels is called for?

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    • Hi,

      Just to let you know, one of the cleaners that saw the ghost was my best friends mom Anne Lovegrove! She told us the story.. as it goes, the young girl was skipping school and used to hide in the tunnels. She heard the workmen and thought it was her dad coming to find her and she ran and hid further into the tunnels. Little did she know that the workmen had been asked to brick up the entrance as it was too dangerous to leave open. Wow! I couldn’t believe it when I stumbled across this post 😮

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      • Hi Lee, many thanks for sharing the story here 🙂 By coincidence, I have just written a post on the many supposed underground tunnels of Lichfield for the Lichfield Gazette & actually went down the cellar at the Tudor Cafe & the old Spread Eagle Inn on Greenhill for a look just in case the stories about these places were true! There are so many rumours and whilst one part of me wants to know if there is any hard evidence for it all, another part of me says ‘ssshh!just enjoy sharing the stories’!

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  5. There was/is definitely a tunnel that runs out of the cellar of the old Mercers Shop in Market St ( I was a friend of Phil Mercer). It was bricked up but was allegedly one of the tunnels used during the Civil War siege

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    • Hi Chris
      Thanks for your comment. This is the first time Mercers has cropped up in this context so that’s great new information. I’m starting to wonder if it would be a good idea to at least pull together some sort of map to mark where we think the tunnels might be? It’s a fascinating part of Lichfield’s history & possibly deserves more investigation 🙂
      Cheers,
      Kate

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  6. Hallo everyone
    Just to let you know we had 3 people on the 15th in the Walk, but we cleared a lot of leaves. We are planning another clearup in November. I’ll let you know when.
    Regards
    Lorna

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    • Hi Lorna,
      Well you had a lovely day for it! I’m sorry I couldn’t make it, I had such a busy weekend. I was in Walsall, Fisherwick, & hardly in Lichfield at all! Please do keep us informed about future ones though & as I mentioned get in contact with Lichfield Live & they’ll promote upcoming events for you 🙂
      Best wishes,
      Kate

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  7. This is really super interesting! Iv heard about the Lichfield tunnels many times – I heard of one going from King Edwards school (my old school) and one going to a pub (possibly the kings head) on Bird Street. There should be some sort of investigation here and exposure for the public. I want to explore these!

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    • Hi Tom! Thanks for the comment. Did you see the post on tunnels – The Lichfield Underground? Think Lichfeldians in the past were part rabbit, it’s like a warren under there! You aren’t the first person to mention an investigation, I’ve been discussing this with someone else although it’s on the back burner at the mo. However, now you’ve reminded me, how could we get an investigation into our tunnels going? For info, in Nottingham there is an amazing underground project – nottinghamcavessurvey.org.uk
      Any ideas, let me know! Cheers Kate

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      • Kate – thats quite an interesting project thats been undertaken in nottingham! up in liverpool where I study, there is a tunnel complex built under the Edge Hill area of the city called the Williamson Tunnels which have been fitted out for viewing purposes: http://www.williamsontunnels.com/index.htm (the interior lighting/maps and backstory boards would be a great way of displaying any such similarity in Lichfield.
        iv also heard that there are many sets of underground tunnels/caves/cities across both the uk and the world, with another source suggesting they were for refuge in “times of plight”. I think it would be a great tourist addition to the town and could be achieved easily through regular volunteer work (such as on the local canal restoration). Let us know if this gets of the ground!

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      • Hi Tom
        I was thinking about this again today funnily enough! The Williamson Tunnels project is amazing & I’d not heard of this. Good to see what has been done elsewhere. I agree it would be a great addition to Lichfield’s history tourism. Now my thinking cap most definitely back on!
        Cheers,
        Kate

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    • Hi Lorna, I would love to have a mooch in the cellars! What is it about dark, underground places that fires our imaginations? Maybe we should start a campaign to get them open as part of next years Heritage Day!

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  8. Hi Kate,

    Wow! This site is what I have been looking for ever since I moved to Lichfield – finally lots of insight into Lichfield’s history and places to visit! I actually regularly visit the Monk’s garden and agree that it is one of Lichfield’s hidden treasures! Thanks so much for creating this blog – I’ll be popping back regularly to see what else you discover!

    All the best,
    Jenny

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    • Thank you so much Jenny! I love doing this. One of the reasons I started it was because when I moved here I wanted to know all about the place & thought I’d share what I found out in case anyone else was interested. It’s great to hear from people, so thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Please feel free to join in with discussions etc – that’s one of the best bits! Cheers, Kate

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  9. Hi All lovers of Monks Walk
    On the eve of the autumnal Equinox, 21st September, there is an evening tour of the Walk in the company of LynnTann-Watson fron the Witches Garden in Donisthorpe. Her talk will focus on the new Physic border, with reference to the magical and mystical uses of plants and herbs. For more info please ring 01543 473222 or 01543 262237.
    Time of tour/talk is 6.00 -7.30.
    Hope to see some of you.

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  10. Stumbled upon this site whilst looking for ghost walks in Lichfield.

    Born a Lichfeldian mentions the pet shop in Sandford Street – this is correct, the tunnels did/do run to this building, I think the petshop was called Remark, but this may be a figment of my imagination, we used to go there when I was a girl (a long time ago) for dog foods and such. I remember the owner telling my Gran that his dogs would not go into the cellar, whatever happened and whatever was put in there that would have tempted any other dog, they simply refused! Very interesting.

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    • Thank you so much for the info Sarah. Sandford St crops up quite often in relation to tunnel stories and in fact I’ve just found a book that mentions the pet shop cellar & related tunnel too. Was the pet shop the brown and white tudor looking house or another one, I’m not sure?

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      • As you look at the brown building (is that now Hayes Recruitment)? I think the pet shop was to the left of it, but would have to take a wander down Sandford Street to be sure.

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      • Should of said earlier, there is also a tunnel entrance (I’ve seen this one) in the basement of Mr. Simms. It looks like it may run under the row of shops that are beneath the Corn Exchange (Chandlers). It’s bricked up now but is quite obviously a doorway leading in that direction.

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      • Thanks Sarah. This is one I haven’t heard of before. I think I’m right in saying that the Corn Exchange was built in around 1850, on or near to the site of the market house, which replaced the market cross destroyed in the civil war. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any stories about St Mary’s church (although St Mary’s House is a different matter!) Hopefully, as the map on the flickr page grows, we’ll start to see some patterns with the stories.

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  11. Hi, All you lovers of Monks Walk
    Although it rained for Lynne’s talk, it stopped while she told us about herbs and remedies. Not a bad turnout, for such a rainy evening ,so thanks to all who came and made the effort worthwhile!
    We’ll be having a working party when all those still green leaves decide to fall, probably late October, early November. I’ll keep you posted.

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  12. Hi Kate,

    Have you any idea whether Monks Walk will still be tended to by volunteers now that it’s to be incorporated into the new Chapter House development? Or whether it will remain open to the general public?

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    • Hi Jonathan

      I heard that it will still be looked after by volunteers and will remain open to the public. Which is a relief, as its a lovely spot! Kate

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  13. Just some info you may be interested, I lived in the Lodge at Aldershawe Hall for eighteen years until 1964 There was a Monks walk there which ran to the side of the hall about 50 yards between what I remember as Pine, ending with a large ornamental stone gate way which was roumoured to originally from the Cathedral. Beneath the hall from the cellar were a number of tunnels which i understood were bricked up when the hall was used as a nursing home for injured soldiers of WW 2 it was said were built in the times when a monestry existed on the site which was told lead to a convent in Lichfield ?

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