25 April 2018

A rainy afternoon
thinking about
Moses and the Moggs

Watching the waters of Minster Pool in the rain in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

It was raining heavily in Lichfield yesterday, and I sat indoors in Ego Restaurant, looking at the rain pouring down on Minster Pool, with the cathedral as a beautiful backdrop to this scene that seemed would have been more season in winter.

As people scurried by, soaked in the rain, and the swans and ducks swam up and down the waters of Minster Pool, and I though of how the mediaeval inhabitants must have been happy with the formation of the pool, and the supply of fresh, clean, drinking water.

Minster Pool was created in the 12th century when a dam was built across an area of marshland then known as ‘The Moggs.’

This pool was a very useful mediaeval asset as it powered a mill, provided a fish pond and created a defence for the cathedral.

At the same time, Stowe Pool was created, providing power for the mills and supporting the tanneries along its banks.

A fountain close to the original site of the Crucifix Conduit was installed near the Friary in 2001 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

During the Middle Ages, very few towns in England had easy access to water that was safe for drinking. But from the 12th century on, Lichfield had a supply of clean piped water, supplied through a conduit located in the Cathedral Close

The provision of a clean water supply to Lichfield expanded, and by the 14th century there were three conduits that accessed the water that came from springs at Aldershaw.

The Crucifix Conduit was installed by the Franciscan Friars in the 14th century. This was the first public supply of clean, piped water in Lichfield.

Traces of the conduit known as ‘Moses’ can still be seen in the Cathedral Close (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Crucifix Conduit at the Friary was taken over by the Conduit Lands Trust in 1545, and the trust extended the supply of clean water to the two other conduits in Lichfield, the Cross and the Stone Cross. A fourth conduit, first called ‘Moses’ Head’ and later known ‘Moses,’ stood at the western end of the Cathedral Close, where traces of it can still be seen today.

However, by the early 1800s, the Crucifix Conduit was the only one of the original conduits that had had still survived in Lichfield. In the 19th century, the water from Stowe Pool was piped to the Black Country, where thousands of people had been dying from drinking contaminated local water.

The Conduit Lands Trust continued to supply the city with water until the 20th century, and the Crucifix Conduit remained in use until 1927.

A fountain was installed close to the original site of the Crucifix Conduit, by the Friary, in 2001.

A rainy afternoon at Minster Pool in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

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