Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Chad


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Chad, The Close


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Statutory Address:
Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Chad, The Close

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Lichfield (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


SK 1109 NE 1094-1/5/212

LICHFIELD THE CLOSE Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Chad

(Formerly Listed as THE CLOSE Cathedral Church of St Chad and St Mary)



I Cathedral church. Early C13 west choir arcade and aisles, chapter house and chapel, transepts and crossing tower; c1280 nave, aisles and west towers; 1300-50 Lady Chapel and east choir arcade and aisles, and choir clerestory. Major restorations of 1660s, 1788-95 continued by Joseph Potter Snr. of Lichfield, 1850s by S Smirke, and 1856-78 by Sir Gilbert Scott, continued by John Oldrid Scott until 1905. Ashlar with graduated slate roofs.

PLAN: cruciform: three-bay Lady Chapel, eight-bay choir with aisles, chapter house to north with library above and consistory court to south with chapel of St Chad's Head above, crossing steeple and three-bay transepts with east chapels, eight-bay nave with aisles and two west steeples.

EXTERIOR: Lady Chapel has three-bay apse articulated by plinth, stepped to end due to slope of ground, gabled buttresses with C19 statues, enriched cornice with traceried and embattled parapet with pinnacles; three-light windows, six-light central windows to north and south, with trefoil tracery; three much restored tomb recesses to south with cusped arches, gables and pinnacles.

Choir has similar clerestory, gabled buttresses supporting flying buttresses and pinnacles, angle buttresses with C19 statues; three-light aisle windows with Decorated tracery and five-light clerestory windows with Perpendicular tracery, those to east bay with Decorated tracery; organ loft to north-west has quatrefoil windows in rich square settings and north-east octagonal stair turret with pinnacle. Chapter house of elongated octagon form, buttresses with top tabernacles with statues, Y-tracery windows, vestibule with Y-tracery north window and two-light plate tracery windows to first floor. Court and chapel have large octagonal turrets with shafts and pinnacles and two statues in niches; three-light windows with Perpendicular tracery. First floor triplets of lancets. Crossing tower has polygonal buttresses with crocketed pinnacles, lines of former steep gables, two two-light bell openings in blind tracery settings, traceried parapet and spire with five tiers of lucarnes. Transepts have three- and five-light clerestory windows with Perpendicular tracery; north transept has polygonal buttresses flanking portal of five orders with rich decoration to arch with flanking niches, 1880s window of seven lancets, Y-tracery windows above; four-light chapel north window and west windows; south transept has large C18 gabled angle buttresses flanking portal similar to above, but much restored, trefoil-headed arcade with C19 figures, nine-light window with Perpendicular tracery and top Catherine wheel windows with flanking statues; chapel as three-light windows and south tomb recess with cusped arch, gable and pinnacles; two pairs of lancets to west; statue of Charles II for west front gable, attributed to Sir W Wilson, attached to south west angle.

Nave has gabled buttresses supporting flying buttresses and pinnacles, enriched cornices and parapets with pinnacles; three-light aisle windows with Decorated tracery and spherical triangle windows to clerestories; south side restored by Smirke.

West front has gable between towers with large polygonal outer turrets; central portal with multi-cusped arch and inner doors with C13 seated Christ over trumeau, original doors with rich scrolled iron work, statues to returns; flanking portals of five orders with restored arches and similar doors; six-light west window with Decorated tracery of 1868; towers have two-light louvred bell openings, lozenge parapet and square crocketed pinnacles, spires with four tiers of lucarnes. Facade articulated with blind tracery and crocketed trefoil arches, corbelled C19 statues, with some medieval statues to north tower, trefoil-headed arcade with seated figures and figure of Christ to gable; much ballflower and crocketing, treatment continued to returns. Wind vanes and C18 rainwater heads.

INTERIOR: Lady Chapel has tierceron vault with ridge rib and bosses, wall shafts with 1895 canopied statues by C E Kempe; applied arcade of nodding ogee arches with buttresses and pinnacles, wall passage has traceried and brattished parapet. Choir has similar clerestory with quatrefoils to reveals; west arcades with stiff-leaf capitals and 1860 canopied statues by J B Philip, east arcades with Decorated foliage capitals and applied cinquefoils; aisles with applied arcading, to west of four trefoil-headed arches per bay, to east of six cusped arches per bay.

Entrance to vestibule has triplet over, three-bay quadripartite vault, applied trefoil-headed arcade to east, similar arcade to west forming vaulted passage, probably pedilavium for Maundy Thursday, a rare feature; rich entrance to chapter house with C13 seated Christ over trumeau; chapter house has vault with central pier and good figure corbels, trefoil-headed arcade to wall bench; library has similar features, pavement has medieval encaustic tiles.

Chapel of St Chad's Head has gallery with traceried parapet on ribbed coving, C19 vault with large bosses. Crossing has star vault. Transepts have tierceron vaults and two-bay arcades to chapels, which have quadripartite vaults, former external windows to north and south of choir. Nave has arcades with good Decorated foliage capitals and applied cinquefoils, two two-light traceried openings to triforium, blind to towers, tierceron vault has C18 lath-and-plaster cells, west window has 1980s timber balcony on ribbed coving.

FITTINGS include: Lady Chapel: 1895 triptych altarpiece with high relief scenes from Oberammergau, contemporary alabaster altar rail. Chancel has complete ensemble of 1860s fittings, a good example of High Victorian Gothic design: alabaster and coloured marble reredos and screen by Scott and Philip, statues to gabled niches, crocketed central arch and pinnacle with cross; sedilia have ex-situ C15 canopies; Minton tiles and incised medallions to pavement; timber stalls with traceried and wrought-iron fronts, wrought-iron side grilles; wrought-iron and brass choir screen by Scott and Skidmore has some painting, gabled central arch and angels, one of the best remaining examples; similar aisle gates and pulpit to nave north east.

Consistory court has three 1670s stalls, Baroque back panels, openwork front panels, twisted columns to openwork canopies with Gothic touches. Ex-situ font to north transept by Slater has early French Gothic detail and high relief scenes and figures; south transept has 1870s screen to St Michael's Chapel with Zulu shields and assegais.

Wall paintings: C14 Crucifixion to piscina to south choir aisle; damaged c1400 Trinity to recess in south choir aisle; C14 Assumption over entrance in chapter house.

MONUMENTS: a few pre C18 monuments and many good C18 and C19 monuments and wall tablets including: Bishop Selwyn, d.1878, to Lady Chapel tomb recess, effigy by Nicholls, decoration by Clayton and Bell, tiles by de Morgan; two medieval effigies of bishops to south choir aisle, also Bishop Hacket, d.1670, high sarcophagus with painted effigy; mutilated tomb in recess to ?John Stanley, d.1515; Robinson Children, 1817, by F Chantrey, two girls sleeping on couch; of later C19 tombs, those to Bishop Lonsdale, d.1867, and Dean Howard, d.1868, have re-used C15 canopies, and Major Hodson, d.1858, boldly carved chest tomb with high relief scenes; Bishop Ryder to north choir aisle, 1840 by Chantrey, free-standing kneeling figure; vestibule has bronze bust by Epstein to Bishop Woods, d.1953; Dean Haywood, d.1492, mutilated base to two-tier tomb with cadaver, good C19 wall tablets; Andrew Newton, d.1808, to south transept, by Westmacott, also busts of Johnson and Garrick, 1793; 80th Regiment of Foot, 1846, Egyptian pylon by P Hollins; nave has good floor brass to first Earl of Lichfield, and wall tablet to members of the Walmesley family, d.1751, 1785, 1786, by W Thompson, good work with coloured marbles, cartouches and putti.

STAINED GLASS: Lady Chapel has c1540 glass from Herckenrode Abbey, installed 1806, other Herckenrode glass in choir aisles; west windows have C16 Flemish glass installed 1895; C18 and C19 heraldic glass to library; 1819 glass by Betton and Evans to south transept east clerestory; good later glass including much by C E Kempe, eg chapter house, Chapel of St Chad's Head and south transept south and east windows; other C19 glass includes: 1893 grisaille glass to north transept north window and 1869 nave west window by Clayton and Bell.

One of England's smaller cathedrals, much damaged during the Civil War, but retaining much of interest, and very good C19 work.

(Pevsner N: The Cathedrals of England (Midlands Eastern and Northern): London:1985: p 181-196)

Listing NGR: SK1156309770


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Bird, LJ , Sir GG Scott's Restorations of Lichfield Cathedral, (1979)
Cobb, G , English Cathedrals: The Forgotten Centuries, (1980), 140-59
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Stafford, (1990), 181-196
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Stafford, (1990)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

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Date: 30 Jun 2001
Reference: IOE01/04649/09
Rights: Copyright IoE Dr Anthea Hatfield. Source Historic England Archive
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