An outing only an hour or so away by car from home in Cheshire has reminded me just how much this country has to offer the traveller.
I have been to Lichfield only once years ago but never to the cathedral. Its famous three spires – the only three-spired cathedral in the country – are often referred to as the “Ladies of the Vale.”
In many ways, this great medieval structure in Staffordshire seems understated when compared with the likes of Canterbury and York but its beauty is without question.
The surprisingly sooty exterior is a possible inheritance from the industrial Black Country not so many miles apart, but its interior is as glorious and imposing as any cathedral despite extensive damage during the English Civil War.
A regular visitor from the area told me how in that 17th-century bloody conflict the folk of Lichfield managed to save its medieval wall paintings by hiding them beneath a coating of protective limewash. Now they are considered to be among the finest examples anywhere in the country although only three have survived.
Lichfield is dedicated to St Chad and St Mary and has been a place of worship for 1,300 years.
For those in need of sustenance, almost opposite the front entrance – which is actually at the side of the cathedral – is the Chapters, the Cafe in The Close, whose patronage by visitors must go some way to offsetting the £5,000 a day to maintain and keep the cathedral open.
There are fairly steep steps into the cathedral but for the less nimble a very friendly greeter, as jovial as a medieval Friar, pointed our way to the disabled access at the monumental front entrance. An area is also available for the disabled with blue badges.
If the weather is fine its 13th century walled garden is an idyllic place to eat. There is no entrance fee to Lichfield Cathedral but even a modest or otherwise voluntary donation is a small price for a very worthwhile visit…
*Website for further information and opening times and special events:www.lichfield-cathedral.