Lichfield, Staffordshire – Cathedral church of St Chad, again

On Saturday 16 October 2021 we set off south to go to Bournville, but the A38 was closed at Fradley Junction. We had a guided tour of industrial estates, and then decided that Lichfield would be far enough. We managed to park not far from the Cathedral, and started with their café. I thought this was an interesting scaffolding buttress.

Then we entered the Cathedral and could explore the Nave while a communion service went on at the East End. Lovely icons over both candle stands and the crucifix – worth having a read of www.patrickcomerford.com/2018/11/the-crucifixion-icon-completes-triptych.html. In brief, Gabriel and the BVM were painted in 2016 by painters from the Bethlehem Icon School. “The icon of Archangel Gabriel is based on the Lichfield Angel, a limestone carving discovered during excavation work under the Cathedral floor in 2003. In the paired icon, the Virgin Mary is seated on an elevated throne weaving a cloth that would become the veil of the Holy of the Holies in the Temple. A red curtain stands behind her in the doorway of her house, evoking the veil of the Temple. In this icon, the curtain is drawn back to indicate that the Lord is entering in, making the womb of the Virgin Mary his dwelling place, making her the Mother of God. The icon includes patterns that are indigenous to Palestinian culture. The colourful rug on which the feet of Virgin Mary rest is decorated with Palestinian motifs that are particular to the Bethlehem area.”

Last time we came – there are previous Lichfield blogs on this site – the north transept had children’s activities, now it has the shop. No cash, no change … and then the wi-fi goes down! Somehow it all got sorted – I am a patient soul (especially when the Shop Manager is a nice young lady). The font is wonderfully Victorian, had the pyramids been built when the Israelites escaped with the Ark of the Convenant? I wonder what Archdeacon Iles makes of it, and what he would make of wi-fi.

Three lovely altars – one at the East End of the North Quire aisle, one at the East End of the church (below), and one at the East End of the Quire. I must read the history of it all – we purchased Jonathan Foyle’s new book about the Cathedral, all we need now is time to read it!

The tomb of Ellen Jane and Marianne stops and makes us think. Then you read the memorial to William Mott. My immediate thought was one along the lines of he managed to be Registrar, Chapter Clerk, Deputy Registrar and Bishop’s Secretary – now we need a Diocesan Office, a Bishop’s Staff, etc., etc. (and you still struggle to get them to reply to emails). Then you realise his wife died when he was 43, then his six year old son died three years later – I stopped moaning about Diocesan administration.

The Bishop Hacket Memorial was re-sited here during 1979. He was bishop from 1662 to 1669. He was the driving force behind the re-building of the Cathedral after the Civil War – an event remembered in a stained glass window.

The tomb of William S.R. Hodson lies under the Union Jack which flew night and day over the residency from 1 July to 30 September 1940. It was presented to Hodson’s Horse by the Government of India in memory of the part played by the Regiment in the relief of the residency in 1857, then was presented to the Dean and Chapter in 1946 for safe keeping. I can’t quite work out what the link is between 1857 and 1940. Hodson was killed at Lucknow in 1858 – I suppose I should do some research.

In the South Transept they had an art exhibition – “The Laboratory”. The central desk is inspired by the desk in Albert Einstein’s study, full of working papers, letters (from Einstein) and an open sketch book ready for ideas to be written upon. In the centre of the desk is a single apple – Eve’s, or Newton’s? Various equations are projected around, and the items within the lab all depict different sciences (including the molecular structures for Carbon Dioxide and ice, included together to indicate relate to global warming). The installation is by Peter Walker.

There are lots of lovely windows – but I only photoed a few this time.

The West Front is glorious, again it needs a proper explore, and there is a new statue of St Chad towards the East End. It was made of bronze by local sculptor Peter Walker, stands 3 m tall, welcoming visitors and pilgrims to the Cathedral. He holds a representation of the C8 St Chad Gospels in one hand, and the other is raised in blessing. There is a new garden planted too – and lots worth reading (and videos to watch) at https://www.lichfield-cathedral.org/what-s-on/st-chad-statue-the-hope-garden. We went on into town – and enjoyed the Oxfam Bookshop. We had a good visit, and an easier drive home.

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