Lichfield and the Civil War
Click images to view
Map of Staffordshire by John Speed (1610)
( Staffordshire Record Office)
The Civil War Timeline.
Civil War Timeline (click)

The Background – what was the city like before the Civil War?

Introduction 1
There were fields round the City, as the 1610 Speed map shows.
The population of Lichfield was under 3000. A cathedral city, it was also a market centre where goods from the farms of the countryside around could be sold, and where tradesmen and craft workers such as shoemakers, tailors and blacksmiths operated. It was close to main transport routes - the junction where the road from London to Carlisle (now the A5) crossed the road from Exeter to York (now the A38).
The Close was a fortified area surrounding the Cathedral. It had stone walls, corner towers and two gatehouses. Built on higher ground, the Cathedral with its three spires was a landmark for miles around along the flat Trent valley. A ditch outside the walls of the Close, the Dumble, added to the strength of the position on the north. On the south side, the water of the Minster Pool formed another defensive barrier.
The city to the south of the Cathedral had also originally had defences, provided by bishop Roger de Clinton in the early 1100s. A ditch, with an earth bank, provided protection to the west, south and east, while the pools gave protection on the north. Four gates to the city had existed in the medieval period, where the roads came into the city, but these had disappeared and what was left of the ditches was of little military use.
Parts of the street pattern are the same as today, especially inside the city. Some of the street names are the same or very similar. Some of the buildings are still here too - not just the Cathedral, but for example Dr Milley's Hospital and St John's Hospital marked on the Speed map, along with others not specifically mentioned.
The Cathedral, as diocesan centre, employed or supported many of Lichfield's inhabitants, directly or indirectly. The leading clergy were also natural supporters of the Crown - the established church of England represented one of the main targets of the Puritans on the Parliamentary side. The bishop, Robert Wright, had been one of the twelve bishops put in the Tower of London in 1641 after protesting against the actions of the House of Commons. Released later that year, he went to Eccleshall Castle near Stone, one of the bishop's residences which he defended with troops for the King. Wright died in 1643 and his successor as bishop, Accepted Frewen never actually came to live here in the diocese.
The City Council had supporters of both sides among its members. For the Parliamentarians, on the Council there were Robert Drafgate, Essex's steward in Lichfield and a former senior bailiff, the Town Clerk Michael Noble and Thomas Minors, a merchant who later became Lichfield's M.P. in the 1650s. For the Royalists, Sir Richard Dyott was current M.P. for Lichfield, also Steward and Recorder.
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