Friday, 1 November 2013

Welcome to my ‘rural retreat’
close to Lichfield Cathedral

Autumn colours in the fields near my ‘rural retreat’ in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

Having spent most of the week travelling between Oxford and Nottingham, visiting theological colleges in the Church of England, and a disrupted train journey late yesterday, it was a pleasure to be back in Lichfield last night [31 October 2013], which is a convenient half-way point between Oxford and Nottingham.

I am staying at the Hedgehog Vintage Inn on Stafford Road, and at the end of a busy and demanding week I am planning my own one-day retreat today for All Saints’ Day [1 November], attending the mid-day Eucharist in Lichfield Cathedral, visiting the chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, and going for a few walks in the countryside around the Hedgehog, which is at the junction of Stafford Road and Cross-in-Hand Lane.

The Hedgehog on Stafford Road, Lichfield … ‘welcome to your … rural retreat’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Although I have stayed many times in the Hedgehog in recent years, an email from Ron Brazier and the team here earlier last month said: “Welcome to your new rural retreat.”

It is an insightful description for the way I have benefitted in recent years from my stays at the Hedgehog, with its rural charm and rustic character, enjoying walks in the countryside or strolling in along Beacon Street to Lichfield Cathedral.

“Make yourself at home,” said that recent email.

But I wonder whether Ron and the team at The Hedgehog know that that this house, once known as Lyncroft House, was home in the 19th century to a host of interesting characters in Lichfield, including a friend of Mozart, a charitable vicar, a speculative doctor and a once-famous painter.

Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) was a celebrated composer, piano-maker, conductor and music publisher from Rome; the Revd Henry Gylby Lonsdale (1791-1851) was Vicar of Saint Mary’s in the centre of Lichfield; Dr Charles Holland lived in Lyncroft House for a while before he bought Stowe House in 1856; and the artist Henry Gastineau lived in Lyncroft House in 1860s.

Lyncroft House has been beautifully restored in recent years as the Hegdehog, and further renovations are planned later this month, reopening in time for Christmas and New Year parties.

For all the Saints ...’ seven Fathers of the Church carved on the south side of Lichfield Cathedral (from left): Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, Saint Ambrose, Saint Gregory, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Athanasius and Saint Basil (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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