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back in time: The Civilised City; LICHFIELD IS STEEPED IN HISTORY.

BACK in the 18th century, Dr Samuel Johnson took his friend Boswell to Lichfield to show him "genuine civilised life in an English provincial town".

Two hundred years on and there's still something of the charm that Johnson described.

Despite considerable growth, the heart of the city retains many of the fine buildings in its historic streets, and many old traditions still continue today.

Lichfield is a city steeped in history. The Romans built a fort two miles south of the present city and, after they left, a Celtic settlement continued in the area.

A Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, Lichfield was under constant bombardment from Parliamentarian forces and in 1646 the central spire of its famous three-spire cathedral collapsed.

In the 1950s, Lichfield was earmarked for overspill housing from the West Midlands conurbation, and has since seen its population almost treble in the past 50 years.

It is thanks to council planners in the intervening years that the city has managed to retain its separate identity and unspoilt charm.

YOU can send memories and pictures on any aspect of Midlands nostalgia.

Write to Back In Time, Sunday Mercury, Weaman Street, Birmingham, B4 6AY, or email

These postcards are of Lichfield scenes at the turn of the century and show Bore Street (above) and Sandford Street.


ABOVE: One of Lichfield's oldest traditions is the Sheriff's Ride. The Ride dates from Queen Mary's Charter of 1553 in which Lichfield was separated from Staffordshire and made a separate County with a right to appoint its own Sheriff. The Charter commanded the Sheriff to "perambulate the new County and City annually on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 8th September". Today, holding true to custom, the Sheriff and retinue assemble at Guildhall, and followed by upwards of 150 riders begin the 16 mile ride of the city boundary. The picture here is from 1938.; RIGHT: With a treat for good behaviour clutched in her hand, the little girl and her mother have just visited the Charrington's Georgian-fronted Chemist & Druggist shop. The pharmacist in 1952 when this photograph was taken was a Mr Edyvean.; BELOW: This quaint corner of old Lichfield is Quonian's Lane, off Dam Street, almost in the shadow of the Cathedral. The photograph was taken in November, 1952, and shows the workshops of a leading firm of ecclesiastical sculptors. Examples of the skilled craftsmen's work in wood and stone can still be found in churches throughout the country.; Warm sunshine, a beautiful Cathedral, and the sound of leather on willow ... what a civilised way to spend a Sunday afternoon. This photograph of Lichfield was taken in April, 1960.; These postcards are of Lichfield scenes at the turn of the century and show Bore Street (above) and Sandford Street.; LEFT: One of Lichfield's historic customs is the Greenhill Bower which takes place on Spring Bank Holiday Monday. A procession of marching bands and carnival floats makes its way through the city where the Bower Queen is crowned outside the Guildhall. The Bower dates back to the middle ages, when the townsfolk, after fulfilling their duty of attendance at the Court of Arraye, were given the rest of the day as holiday. This picture is from 1956.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 13, 2008
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