Wednesday 12 April 2023
(1.15pm for 1.30pm start)
- Leader: John McNeill
Best known as a classic of the English Civil War when, between March 1643 and July 1646, it was successively besieged, occupied, stormed and abandoned, Lichfield Cathedal stands as a great medieval survivor. The cathedral sits slightly apart from the city, from which it is separated by a small lake, known as Minster Pool. What makes it particularly appealing to visit now is that our knowledge of the building which has come down to us has been hugely enhanced as the result of a number of recent archaeological initiatives. The most spectacular of these was the 2004 excavation of the crossing that uncovered the Lichfield Angel, now displayed along with the St Chad Gospels in the chapter-house. The resulting reappraisal of the eighth-century cathedral and its furnishings was extensive, but the 2004 excavation was the simply the climax of a series of works which in turn transformed our understanding of how the various thirteenth-century architectural campaigns at Lichfield fit together, and relate to such splendidly quirky architectural set-pieces as St Chad’s head-chapel and the strangely elongated polygonal chapter house and vestibule, beyond which lie the genuinely great architectural compositions – that superb and oddly underrated nave, and early fourteenth-century lady chapel.
All this and more will be examined on the cathedral visit which will last around two hours.
There is one direct train each hour from London Euston to Lichfield Trent Valley. This leaves at 46 minutes past the hour and takes 90 minutes.
John McNeill lectures for the Department of Continuing Education at Oxford University and is a Vice-President of the London Art History Society for whom he has delivered numerous courses and led study tours and cathedral visits. He is the Secretary of the British Archaeological Association, for whom he has edited and contributed to volumes on English medieval cloisters, chantries and Romanesque material culture.