House Old Recycling

With a long awaited cafe & kiosk opening in Beacon Park this week, it reminded me that I wanted to have a look at the reuse of old buildings parts in Lichfield.

The connection? Well, the new Chandlers Cafe is in the 1930’s mock tudor building on the edge of Beacon Park. According to a plaque, it incorporates materials from the old Friary. I’d love to find some records that confirm whether or not this is true and if so,  how this came to be.

The provenance of the nearby balustrade running around Beacon Park is more of a mystery. Both Annette Rubery and myself have so far drawn a blank when attempting to discover its origins. Did this start life elsewhere?

More information is available on the balustrade running around the Garden of Remembrance opposite, albeit a little contradictory. The listed building description suggests that the balustrade came from Moxhull Hall in Wishaw, although Lichfield DC’s website disagrees, saying that it came from Shenstone Court, and that it’s the stone lions on the pillars that come from  Moxhull Hall. Does anyone know any different?

If the balustrade is from Shenstone Court, then its not the only bit of that old house we’re supposed to have made use of here in Lichfield! The portico at the entrance to the site of the Friary is also said to have been salvaged from the demolition of the Cooper Family mansion. However, according to the Lichfield Council Conservation Area Document, this is one of ‘countless unsubstantiated stories about the portico coming from important buildings in the Lichfield area and ‘it is equally possible that it was made in 1937’. I think this might be another one for further investigation!

Finally, for this post at least, there’s the Old Stables in The Close (formerly the Visitors Study Centre). These belonged to Bishop Hacket’s now demolished house which stood on this site until 1799.   Material from the remains of the walls of The Close, from the heavily damaged, original Bishops Palace, and possibly even the Cathedral itself are thought to have been used during construction of these buildings, which are alongside Chapters Restaurant.

I’m sure there must be more in Lichfield –  I’ve even seen garden walls built with what looks like the remnants of old buildings. If anyone knows of any more examples,  I’d love to hear. In the meantime, I’ve heard that there may be more parts of Fisherwick Hall to track down….


20 thoughts on “House Old Recycling

  1. We were looking at the portico just this weekend; I was saying to Mr B. that there had been some suggestion that it could have been made in 1937, but he was doubtful, due to all the “scars” on the pillars.


    • I know next to nothing about architecture but I did have a quick look at a photo of Shenstone Court Lodge. There are similarities with the portico, so on the basis of this quick look I would say it’s a possibility. Or is that why the story started in the first place? Also, there was a connection between the Cooper family and the Friary wasn’t there? I think Sir Richard Ashmole Cooper owned it and then donated it to the city. Is the thinking that one of the Coopers had it made specifically for this? (urgh, I’m getting a bit confused now, especially with these Coopers!). I wonder if Susan Ward would know anything? As luck would have it she’s just started her own blog!
      OK, I’m going to agree with Mr B and say I think it’s old and it’s come from elsewhere, probably Shenstone Court based on looks. But I am going to try and find out more, there must be records somewhere!


  2. There’s a big wooden roofbeam in the attic of our house (built c1830 on Beacon Street) which has a socking great slot in it – clearly, it’s been re-used from an earlier building. Our property backs onto Prince Rupert’s Mound, so it’s tempting to think that the beam dates from one of the structures rebuilt in the vicinity after the area was devastated in the Civil War – and who knows, maybe originates with one of the buildings demolished during the siege? Very hard to tell without carbon-dating, but it’s a safe bet that large parts of the fabric many older (and newer) Lichfield buildings have an interesting prehistory. History, of course, is rarely pure and never simple…


    • Brilliant. That reminds me that during the last Heritage Weekend I was told that the Master’s House at St John’s Hospital had beams salvaged from galleons! It does make me happy to think that some of the buildings that have been demolished are still around somewhere, albeit only partially. I think its a fascinating thing.


  3. Oh, and on the Friary portico topic – yes, to me, the stone of the columns looks too old (and damaged) to have been new in the 1930s; it’s clearly been patched. Surely columns that were new in 1937 would be in better condition? (It also looks like the kind of damage that would occur during relocation, rather than in situ. Just a hunch, though). The roof, on the other hand, is concrete and wood, and looks like it might well be more recent.
    I’m interested in Shenstone Court because it was the seat of the eminent 19th century admiral Sir William Parker (one of several great seafarers to live in landlocked Staffordshire) and because, although the house has gone, the landscaped park remains and is clearly visible as such from the train shortly after it leaves Shenstone Station in the direction of Blake St.


    • I really must go and have a look around Shenstone. Not least because I’m getting myself confused now! I’m not sure if that lodge I looked at belonged to Shenstone Court or one of the other houses? Landscapes do seem to hang on in there, don’t they? Even at Beacon Park and certainly at Fisherwick. I suppose it’s easier and more lucrative to remove building materials than a landscape though… sorry thinking aloud again!


  4. Yes, that’s my understanding of the Friary too – Richard Cooper gave the land for the development of the road. Re: the balustrades around the Remembrance Gardens, there’s a reference to them in the Staffordshire volume of Arthur Mee’s The King’s England; I think he was of the Moxhull Hall persuasion, but can’t remember offhand.


  5. I remember been told about when the new Friary Road was built and the re location of the clock tower. I think this took place in 1928 if I remember correctly. I vaguely remember been told that the old clock tower was on the junction of Bore/ Bird Street. I also remember a bench that was situated under the portico. I think this is a very interesting page thank you.


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    • It does look very similar. There must be records of this somewhere – even a newspaper report or something. I need to move into the record office for a week!


  7. I always understood the portico came from Shenstone Court, the home of Sir Richard Ashmole COOPER MP a local landowner whos father Walter was one of the first registered Vets and invented a sheep dip that made his fortune, allowing Richard to become a country gent!
    I think the house was demolished in the 30’s and the City council bought it as a symbol of thanks to Richard COOPER who payed to remove the clocktower (a Conduit Lands Trust monument for the provision of water to the city) to its present site when the new road was built.
    There seems to be a lot going on then , with the Staffordshire Yeomanry (fore runner of the Terrirorial Army) moving out of the Friary building and it being ‘loaned’ to Stafforsshire Council as a girls school.
    As for the cafe….it will be strange as they use to be the public toilets!!!!!!!!!!!


    • I had heard of the family but i didn’t know that that’s how they made their fortune! Shenstone Court seems to be the favourite, I wonder what made the person who coas doubt on this do so?


  8. I’ll check the mass of books when I get home but I am 100% its from Shenston Court
    Cooper also paid for the saving of the tower moving it into what I think is officially known as Festival Gardens, a forgotten gem of Lichfield, often ignored due to the roads and traffic. I think to save money there was only 3 faces but after a complaint from a resident a 4th was added…fair to all,all round?


  9. Hi trying to catch up with all thats been written. I can confirm in Howard Clytons book Spirit of lichfield, he and co writer Kathleen state the portico is from Shenstone Court

    For Richard B, regarding your wooden beam, you need dendro dating not carbon dating, basiclly, a drilled core is taken from the wood and the rings examined.
    Off the top of my head no idea who you contact locally for this but here is a link to one of many companies I found on the internet that explains the process. As it maybe expensive I would join with others for a group deal having done some reasearch locally


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  11. I think we have have got a little mixed up here?

    Shenstone Court was also known as the Moss (see map of the 1880s) and was rebuilt (1926….1935?). The rebuilt house was recently put up for sale at about £1.9m see….

    Before it was rebuilt it was the seat of Sir Richard Cooper.

    Shenstone Lodge was the seat of Sir William Parker and may have existed as a Children’s home in 1950. In 1899 it was described as having two enormous Balls of stone from the arsenal at Constantinople at the entrance gate of the lodge; the same in size and weight to those fired at Admiral Duckworth when he forced the Dardanelles.

    To add to the confusion the link shown to Shenstone Court by Lost Heritage given above by Susan…

    is a different place to the Illustration appearing in the 1899 publication by the Lichfield Mercury!


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