It might not have rained on St Swithin’s day here in Lichfield but water was still the theme this weekend. On Saturday, I was supposed to be at the Festival of History at Kelmarsh in Northamptonshire. However, it seems that nature wanted to get involved in the reenactment of history too and successfully managed to put the marsh back into Kelmarsh. Maybe Dr Rawson was right when he warned “Drive nature out as you will, and she will come back”!
Here in Lichfield, I’ve read that marshy land was known as ‘moggs’ and that the Museum Gardens were once known as Swan Moggs or the Bishop’s Fish Pool. You can see an artist’s impression from 1848 of the scene in 1548 here.
A causeway was built to separate the Moggs from from Minster Pool in the early 1300s, and the road became known as Newebrugge St, later Brugge St and eventually Bird St. According to Rawson, the original bridge was widened by 5 foot in 1768. It was replaced by a new bridge in 1816, but I was quite excited to see that the listed building description says that the remains of the old bridge could still be below the water of Minster Pool. Has anyone anyone ever been down there to have a look, I wonder? I’m probably not quite excited enough to hire a wetsuit and go looking for it, but you never know!
It seems that other interesting discoveries have been made near the site of the bridge. According to the Pastscape record, during the 19th century there was a malthouse on the causeway and in 1802, when they were digging a well they discovered a roman goblet called a cyathus and fragments of several human remains. How did they come to be there?
Once again, it’s worth taking a look at John Snape’s 1781 map of Lichfield as it show the extent of the Moggs at that time.
While we’re at it, here’s John Speed’s 1610 map again as well!
As you might expect, the Bird St ward banner features the Causeway.
Something I’m especially interested in relating to all this are the references I’ve seen to a well in the vicinity. So far, I’ve seen it called Merelynswele, Merliche Well and Maudlin’s Well and various sources seem to place it adjoining the Bishop’s Fish Pool, and accessible from Shaw Lane.
I might be wrong but is the original name made up of three watery elements i.e. Mere-lyns-wele with mere as in Windemere, lyn deriving from the celtic word for for lake and of course wele for well?
The name of the well seems to have changed over the years. For example, John Jackson suggested that the well became known as Maudlin’s as, ‘Tradition says some person having enjoyed his bottle rather too freely tumbled into this well which has since been distinguished by its present epithet Maudlin signifying a state of inebriation. It is clearly however an abbreviation of Magdalen’s’. Dr Rawson referred to it as Merliche, the pool-marsh well.
What I really need to do is to get down to the record office to have a look at the plan of Maudlins Well and Dean’s Croft that they I’ve just found out that they have. Wait, Dean’s Croft? That sound’s familiar….. Might wait until it stops raining AGAIN though 😦
(1) An inquiry into the history and influence of the Lichfield waters by Rawson 1840
(2) A short account of the city and close of Lichfield by Thomas George Lomax, John Chappel Woodhouse, William Newling
History & Antiquities of the Church & city of Lichfield by Thomas Harwood
Collections for a History of Staffordshire Part II- Vol VI (1886)
History of the City and Cathedral of Lichfield by John Jackson
A History of the County of Stafford Vol 14: Lichfield edited by MW Greenslade