Sunday, 17 January 2021

Siege of Lichfield

March 2nd to 5th, 1643. Any historian will instantly remember this date in Lichfield’s history, for this is the renowned Siege of Lichfield by Lord Brooke and Sir John Gell.

Lord Brooke had six troops of horse, 300 infantry, and a serious amount of cannon. Parliamentary cavalry force was located to the northwest side of the London Road, this now contiguous with the Birmingham Canal, known as Cromwell’s Meadows. The Royalists were entrenched behind earthworks between the cathedral and the pools. A gun known as Black Bess was located in Dam Street and on St Chad’s Day (relevant as this is to whom the cathedral is dedicated) March 2nd 1643, history records this as a Thursday, Lord Brooke receives a mortal wound in the forehead by a shot from the battlements of the cathedral. This remarkable or lucky shot, depending on which side you are on, was fired by a sniper rather cruelly known as Dumb Dyott.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Last Man Burned at the Stake

11th April 1612 and Edmund Wightman wouldn’t have known it at the time but he was to be the last person to be burned at the stake for heresy in this country, the execution taking place in the square outside St Mary’s Church in Lichfield, a plaque marks the site.

Aside from a number of views which would probably be considered simply the start of a new sect today, he made the mistake of claiming Edmund Wightman was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament; that he was the Holy Spirit; he was the prophet Elijah; Christ was never incarnate and but merely a man; that Christ was not God; there was no Trinity; baptism is wickedness; the communion is evil; and God ordained him the saviour of the world. David Icke must be secretly pleased he wasn’t born in the latter part of the 16th century.

However there is an earlier part to this story for, on March 9th that year, he had been brought to the market to be burned at the stake. The fire was lit and he was heard to cry out and beg for mercy, repenting for everything he had said and done. The people of Lichfield broke through the cordon and dragged the man from the flames, several being badly burned in the process. Wightman was forced to read out his repentance before the chains were removed. Bishop was not impressed and sent for him to read the repentance a second time bur Wightman refused hence he was sent back to the stake and the cordon strengthened to prevent a repeat of the March debacle. In April none were allowed through until the fire had died out completely and all that was left was a pile of ashes.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Edmund Gennings

10th December 1591 and. Edmund Gennings of Lichfield chose the wrong time to return to London. He had disappeared to Rheims aged sixteen after converting to Catholicism. Arrested on 7th November 1591 after being reported for saying mass in at house at Grays Inn, he was hanged, drawn and quartered on December 10th outside that same building. The plaque on the wall states he was disembowelled while still alive.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Burned at the Stake

18th December 1557 and Joyce Lewis of Croxall, Staffordshire hits the headlines. She had been married to Sir George Appleby until he was killed at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh on 15th September 1547. Before the 1547 was out she had married again, this time to Thomas Lewis of Mancetter, it was then she started to question her faith and eventually divorced herself from the Catholic church, thereafter worshiping as a Protestant. Her change of ideas was noticed by none other than Ralph Baines, Bishop of Lichfield who referred to her ‘irreverent behaviour in church’. After spending a year of contemplation in a prison cell, on the bishop's orders she was taken to Lichfield and burned at the stake.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Trouble Brewing

Tuesday 9th January 1906 and brewer’s labourer James Cannon is at the Lichfield Brewery Co. Ltd. At 12:30 he is wearing heavy clogs as he slipped while adding hops to the contents of the copper boiler. Witness emptied the first can and was taking it away when he heard a splash. He turned to discover just Cannon's right hand hanging on to the side and immediately pulled him out. He walked to the office, badly scalded, where they stripped him and oiled the scalds. Dr Welchman arrived and ordered him to the Victoria Nursing Home, where James Cannon died three days later.

Sunday, 13 December 2020


Wednesday 6th June 1900 and railway guard Harry Cliff is in his van as the engine is detached for shunting. The train travelling to Walsall stopped at Hammerwich.
With no brake applied, the train began to roll down the incline. Telegraph message sent from Hammerwich to Lichfield City and points turned for the now hurtling wagons and vans sending them into a siding where they impacted with empty cattle trucks. Piled on top, littered all over, Harry Cliff's body was found in the very middle. He was just 40 years of age and lived at Stafford. The runaway train comprised 21 loaded wagons and 9 empties and was travelling at least 50mph. During the search they first spotted his feet and a part of his leg enabling rescuers to find the body fairly quickly.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Lichfield's First Motorcycle Accident

Sunday 12th June 1904, the date of the first ever motorcycle accident in Lichfield. Between 3 and 4pm a Mr Savage, and electrical engineer from Burton-upon-Trent, was travelling along Pipe Hill when a dog ran out in front of him. He was thrown from his bike with what was described as ‘considerable force’. Injuries included an arm broken in two places, and fractures of the knee and skull. He was taken to the Victoria Nursing Home where he was treated by Dr Fraser and had been sent home on the Wednesday. The newspaper also reported the dog had died, its neck broken.