Underneath The Arches

A stone arch stands in the grounds of the Lichfield Campus of South Staffs college and I’ve never been sure whether it is a folly, or part of the Franciscan Friary which once stood on the site. According to a book on the history of the Friary School (1), the arch was discovered in the walls of outbuildings taken down to make way for the new Friary Road in the 1920s. Apparently, it was incorporated into the staff entrance to the school, which used the buildings now occupied by the Library from the 1920s until the 1980s.  A former pupil describes the arch as standing on the lacrosse field during her time at the school. Inevitably, over the years the imagination of school children and the history of the site have combined to create legends and stories, including one about a ghostly monk that people are said to have seen passing through the arch.

Another intriguing discovery made nearby during the 1920s was the gravestone of Richard the Merchant. Actually, rediscovery would be a more accurate description, as the stone had first been uncovered in 1746, when a former owner of the Friary was laying the foundations for a garden wall.  Thankfully, sketches were made of the stone and its inscription as nowadays, its markings can be barely made out and the stone itself is even more hidden away now than when I wrote this post about it back in July 2011.

Tombstone of Richard the Merchant,now in the wall of Lichfield Library

Today I was walking between Dam St and the Bird St car park (which I still call the Woolworth’s car park despite that shop not having been there for years), when I caught a glimpse of what seems to be another arch, over a garden wall which must belong to one of the properties on Dam St. Does anyone have any information on where this arch is from, and why it is here? And of course, if anyone has any stories of ghostly Lichfield residents walking through this one, please let us know!

Notes:

(1) The History of the Friary School, Helen Mullins 1981

(2) I suppose it would actually be a friar, rather than a monk (there is a difference!) but as we’re talking ghost stories here it’s probably not the place to worry too much about historical accurancy!

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6 thoughts on “Underneath The Arches

  1. I’ve been under that arch at the back of Dam Street! It’s in the back garden of Dame Oliver’s, along with some gargoyles… If you pop in, ask for Louise and she might let you take a look.

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    • Brilliant Phil thanks! I was told it was in the back garden of the Bogeyhole and the stone came from the school alongside Minster Pool (now the antiques centre) but I’m going to see if I can speak to Louise and see what she knows & maybe even ask if I can go under the arch with the gargoyles too! Why do I get so excited about these things? By the way, may I ask what you were doing under the arch?

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  2. Very interesting, I must have spent all my school days at Meredith House, Borrowcop and The Friary walking round with my eyes shut!

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  3. Kate
    According to a contemporary newspaper report about the school opening in October 1928,the arch” was removed from the east wall of the old outbuildings when the new road was cut through”, being reset in the house and formed the new staff entrance

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    • Thank you John – I’m guessing it was a similar situation to that with gravestone i.e. discovered once before, and used as a feature by whoever owned the Friary estate at the time. I’m surprised that more isn’t made of it actually.

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