Saturday, 18 April 2009

Lichfield’s link with New Zealand.

lichfield 020 Another bus trip was the order of the day, this time to Lichfield to view the Cathedral that is unique to the UK in that it has 3 spires.The cathedral contains the shrine of St Chad who was the bishop from 669 – 672 and became the focus of many pilgrims. He bought Christianity to Mercia, a roman settlement in Britain. The first cathedral was dedicated in December 700.

lichfield 018 Parts of the original moat around the Cathedral still remain

A second cathedral was built between 1085 –1140 and over the decades further additions were made. In 1541 St Chad's shrine was destroyed and the building suffered destruction of the central spire and central roof in heavy bombardment during the Civil War of 1643 – 1653.

Restoration was again started in 1660 which took another decade. which survived until 1856 when another restoration period took place. This wasn’t completed until 1908. Over the next century restoration work has been done on the central spire, the roof and the organ rebuilt.

lichfield 028 Last year saw the beginning of another 8 year project of restoration including the restoration of the Herkenrode windows which were installed in 1804.

Among the plaques of high ranking people buried at the cathedral were Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin and George Augustus Selwyn. The latter was born in London and trained at Eton and Cambridge,after a spell at Windsor he went out to the colony of New Zealand and set up the first Anglican ministry where he became Bishop in 1841. He later returned to England where he became bishop of Lichfield in 1868 and died in office in 1878. His name is found in many places throughout New Zealand.

lichfield 031 Maori Mural around Bishop Selwyn’s Tomb in Lichfield Cathedral

It never ceases to amaze us, when you consider the period in which these places were built, how they were constructed without the labour saving devices we take for granted today and the skill of the craftsmen in both wood and stone. Its mind boggling when you consider that there are 766 stone carvings within the cathedral and 113 statues on the West entrance wall. How many thousand or even million man hours went into carving all that with just muscle and brawn?

After spending a couple of hours within this magnificent edifice we wandered back into town for lunch at what we thought looked like a nice bakery/cafe. How wrong we were, the service was so sloooooow we could have faded away with hunger. Eventually we walked back to the bus station where there was quite a queue due to the fact that the last 3 buses had not turned up in either direction, to or from Stafford. When a bus finally arrived the service was 2 hours behind schedule so by the time everybody was aboard it was standing room only. Passengers that were picked up along the route were all complaining but no explanation was forth coming. The driver tried his best and by the time we reached Rugeley he was just about back on time but which schedule, who knows?

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