What's the Story?

On a building called Brooke House in Dam St is a plaque.  The name and the plaque’s inscription relate to the man killed there during the civil war. According to the Public Monument & Sculpture Association records1, Richard Greene (he of Lichfield’s Museum of Curiosities) commissioned the plaque in the 1700s, and it reads as follows:

‘MARCH 2ND 1643 LORD BROOKE A GENERAL
OF THE PARLIAMENT FORCES, PREPARING TO
BESIEGE THE CLOSE OF LICHFIELD, THEN GARRISONED
FOR KING CHARLES THE FIRST, RECEIVED HIS DEATH WOUND
ON THE SPOT BENEATH THIS INSCRIPTION BY A SHOT IN THE
FOREHEAD, FROM MR DYOTT. A GENTLEMAN WHO HAD
PLACED HIMSELF ON THE BATTLEMENTS OF THE
GREAT STEEPLE TO ANNOY THE BESIEGERS’

A couple of weeks ago, I’d have said without hesitation that I knew this story. Lord Brooke was shot through the eye and it was John Dyott (or Dumb Dyott as he was known) with a musket from the central spire of the Cathedral.  It’s possible that this is the correct version, but as I know now, it’s certainly not the only version.

Lord Brooke (source: Wikipedia)

 According to a letter from Richard Greene2 the version he based the inscription on was from Sir William Dugdale’s 1681 book ‘The Late Troubles in England’. Greene believed this gave the most ‘circumstantial account of the affair’. Over in the comments section of the Shopping Daze post, Pat & Ian have been discussing the affair, following a comment left by ‘Born a Lichfeldian’. In arguing their case, Pat & Ian have both done some research – Ian has found these different accounts on the Learning with Archives in Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent website and Pat has found a programme that includes a section about John Dyott. 

 

 

 
The fact that Brooke was killed on 2nd March doesn’t seem to be in dispute but inevitably, with this date being St Chad’s day the significance attributed to this does differ. Some, like Archbishop Laud suggested that St Chad had a hand in events…..

So, let’s imagine there was a way to prove exactly what happened on 2nd March 1643 (yes, I’m still thinking about my reconstruction idea!). What would we gain and what would we lose by doing so?

I can’t add any new photos so I can’t provide one of Brooke House. How about walking a few of those mince pies off with a stroll up Dam St to have a look for yourself?

Big thanks to Pat & Ian for all their contributions to this post and those in the pipeline 😉

 Sources:
1.http://pmsa.cch.kcl.ac.uk/BM/STliLIlb010.htm
2. Vol 55 of The Gentleman’s Magazine,

Can I borrow £18k please?

Ian, who often makes a great contribution to this blog via the comments section,  has spotted something intriguing on ebay.

For £18,000 you can buy a statue of a prophet, said to originally be from Lichfield Cathedral.

The statue's orginal home?

Get your bid in here! http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Stone-Sculpture-Lichfield-Cathedral-statue-/350449588131?pt=UK_Antiques_Architecural_RL&hash=item51986c57a3

So of course, I want to know the story of the statue and my initial thoughts & questions are:

It was discovered 3 miles from Lichfield – I wonder where?

Who took it there and why?

I’m a bit confused by ‘dates to 1650’. Do they mean the statue was sculpted at this time, or comes from the Cathedral of this time?

Are there any other parts of the ‘old’ Cathedral anywhere else? For example, we know that most of the damaged statues on the West Front were taken down in 1744/1749.(1) What happened to them all?

Can anyone lend me £18,000 as I think this would look great in my garden?

Huge thanks to Ian for this great spot and it would be great to hear any theories anyone has about this prophet.

 

Sources:

(1)  ‘Lichfield: The cathedral’, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990), pp. 47-57. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42342  Date accessed: 03 November 2011.

 

The Lichfield Underground

St Mary's House, The Close.

My introduction to Lichfield’s underground world came a couple of years ago, on the thoroughly enjoyable Gruesome & Ghostly City tour.

Then, back in January 2011, there was a series of great posts on TamworthTimeHikes about underground mysteries in Tamworth. As a result, information came to light (sorry!)about tunnels in Lichfield and Mark kindly passed the information on to me. Since then, tunnels have resurfaced several times (sorry again!), most recently in conversations with Vickie Sutton, Brownhills Bob , the folks at the BeaconStBlog, and as you may already have seen, in the comments section of the Monks Walk post. So, I thought I should finally get around to doing something on them! Here’s what I’ve heard/read/speculated about so far…..

1)      Under Sandford St

My first tunnel! Standing on the corner of Sandford St on a chilly October night we were told that tunnels led from that area to the Cathedral. In recent conversations on the Monks Walk post, ‘Born a Lichfeldian’ has contributed more to the story of the tunnel, suggesting that the tunnel also runs to The Friary.  You can read the discussion here.

2)      White Hall on Beacon St

In a book ‘Lichfield & its Cathedral’ by H Snowden Ward (1893) is the following description “From the cellars of the inn, an underground passage ran some distance and was popularly believed to terminate as St Chad’s Church. That is went so far is extremely unlikely, and what was its object or termination will never be known, for a few years ago the late owner of the White Hall caused the portion under that house to be filled up, and without having the passage explored through its whole length”.

Edit 15/11/2011

City librarian & historian J W Jackson (who I’ll introduce you properly to another time) noted in his weekly history column in the Lichfield Mercury of the 1930s that the tunnel under White Hall was dug out by a previous owner during the plague. Presumably he wished to go about his business without soming into contact with carriers of the disease or the bad air that some thought caused the plague at the time. Would be interesting to see if there are stories of any tunnels elsewhere being dug for this purpose?

3)      Under Dam St

Some information from googling,  that I think came may have originally come from the Staffs Books Shop that used to be on Dam St, says that there is speculation that a passage runs along Dam St from the Cathedral to the Guildhall, and was used as an escape route during the Civil War. In an 1819 book, ‘A Short Account of the Ancient & Modern State of the City & Close of Lichfield’, it says ‘A large subterraneous passage of stone, several feet beneath the surface, has been traced from the middle of Quonians Lane, under the houses on the west side of the street, for a considerable distance in the gardens; its use cannot now be ascertained.”

4)      St Mary’s House in The Close

In the Lichfield Records Office there is a copy of Lomax’s Pictoral Book of Lichfield, edited by Alan J Bull. It describes St Mary’s House as the oldest house in Lichfield and says that the East & South walls are part of the original building which dates back to before 1321 and formed part of the Close’s defences – at the base the walls are 6ft thick and you can still see the arrowslits. The book goes on to say that tradition has it that below this building are underground passages leading to St Chad’s, White Hall, the Friary, St John’s Hospital and the Old Brewery on Sandford St.

5)     Beacon Street again!

Vickie’s Aunt remembers seeing a very large tunnel somewhere in the vicinity of Beacon St, which she describes as being whitewashed and large enough for a coach & horses to get through.

6)      Tudor Tea Rooms

On their own website, there is a description of a passage going from their cellars to the Cathedral. They speculate that it may have been dug out  during the Civil War. Apparently, the “passage has been followed for some distance in recent years, but is too dangerous to pursue further”

7)      Greenhill

A rumour of a tunnel behind a building on Greenhill, which used to be a pub called the Spread Eagle. (You can still see the archway for the coaches & the building is called ‘Spread Eagle House’).

As well as discussing tunnels, I’ve also been talking to people recently about the importance of stories & legends, like these. Do we really need to get to the truth or should we leave them be & enjoy them for what they are? I still haven’t made my mind up, so, I’ll leave it for you to decide in this case.

Therefore, this next part is a bit like a Choose your Own Adventure book (remember those? I used to have my fingers bookmarking about 5 different options at a time!). If you would like to investigate the truth behind Lichfield’s mysterious tunnels you could start by clicking here or exploring some old maps of Lichfield here. Just suggestions though, can’t guarantee you’ll find the answers!

If you’re happy to accept the stories as they are, then relax and perhaps go & make yourself a nice cup of tea 🙂

Edit:

I’ve been told about another tunnel by someone on Twitter – one between Gaia Lane and the Cathedral. Apparently it leads to a house that used to be used as a laundry/servants quarters. A relative of my tunnel informant has actually been in the tunnel, and says it is blocked off. We’re thinking laundry tunnel, servants passage – anyone else know anything?

Interestingly there was a daughter and mother,  Ellen Stone and a Mary Skelton, both described as a ‘Laundress’ living at Gaia Lane on the 1851 census. Going off topic somewhat, Ellen’s son Henry lived with them. He was illegitimate and there is some interesting speculation on who his Father may have been. You can read more at the Stone Family History site here.

Edit: 10/3/2012

I’ve come across a scribbled note I made some time ago which says there is a tunnel underneath Farewell Church. Interestingly, there is a work of semi- fiction set at the nunnery that preceded the church. The story is set at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries and is called ‘A Tale of Fairwell’. The last scene of the book is set in ‘the subterranean vaults of Fairwell Priory’.

Also, Hanch Hall has a confirmed underground passage of some description – the listed building description says there are ‘extensive brick vaulted cellars with vaulted passage or drainage channel leading into the park’.

Sir Gilbert Scott and Lichfield

Following on from yesterday’s google doodle of the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras, to to commemorate the 200th birthday of Sir George Gilbert Scott, I had a quick look at Scott’s connections to Lichfield.

Scott was the Lichfield cathedral architect from 1855 to 1878, first restoring the interior of the Cathedral and then working on the exterior, including the West Front which had been vandalised during the civil war and covered in roman cement in  an earlier restoration.You can read more about the restoration at the Lichfield Cathedral website

It seems Lichfield Cathedral isn’t the only city building that Sir Gilbert Scott was involved with.  In the early days of his career he had formed a partnership with his former assistant William Bonython Moffatt. The Scott & Moffat practice made workhouses their speciality. Apparently, they would monitor the newspapers for adverts by Poor Law Unions looking for architects to build their new workhouses. Scott & Moffat answered an advert placed by the Lichfield Workhouse Board of Guardians, looking for  “Plans and Specifications for a Workhouse to hold two hundred Paupers, in accordance with Mr Kempthorne’s Model.”  Scott & Moffat were eventually selected after much deliberation by the workhouse guardians and work began on the tudor style building on 24th May 1838 and it was officially opened on 8th May 1840. Their work can still be seen at the old St Michael’s hospital on Trent Valley Rd.

Scott and Moffat parted company in 1845, after designing around 40 workhouses together. Scott’s wife Caroline Oldrid was said to have put an end to the partnership, as she believed that Moffat had become unreliable. In 1860, Moffat was was imprisoned as a debtor. After their partnership ended, Scott carried on with his two sons as his assistants. His younger son, John Oldrid Scott took over his father’s practice in 1878 and was the architect overseeing the restoration of the cathedral spire in my previous post! I was reading his notes and letters to the Dean and Chapter just a few days ago (his handwriting is terrible!). Scott’s eldest son George died at the age of 58, strangely enough at the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station.

Scott was knighted in 1872 but faced some critiscism during his career.  William Morris and others founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877, in response to what they felt was the unsympathetic restoration of medieval buildings by Victorian Architects, Scott amongst them. Apparently on Scott’s death, Morris described him as ‘the happily dead dog’.

The Midland Hotel was threatened with demolition in the 1960s, but The Victorian Society campaigned and the hotel became grade I listed.  The hotel was reopened earlier this year as the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. 

You can see a list of the buildings Scott worked on here.  I’m pleased to see that they’ve included a picture of Lichfield Cathedral!

Sources
www.scottisharchitects.org.uk

www.workhouses.org.uk

Cathedral City by Howard Clayton

This Won’t Hurt – A History of the Hospitals of Lichfield by Mary Hutchinson, Ingrid Croot and Anna Sadowski

www.guardian.co.uk Article ‘Sir George Gilbert Scott, the unsung hero of British architecture’