30 January 2018

Charles I: remembered today
as king, martyr and art collector

Charles I, executed on 30 January 1649 and remembered in London today as king, martyr – and art collector (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The residential meeting of trustees of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) came to an end today at the Royal Foundation of Saint Katharine.

Saint Katharine’s is in the heart of the East End in London, and we met there for two days. We discussed climate change, ethical investment, budgets, and USPG’s work with global partners in mission.

Each day began and ended with prayer. But the variations in the calendars of the Church of England and the Church of Ireland can sometimes catch me by surprise, and I was not prepared for this morning’s commemoration at the Eucharist of ‘Charles King and Martyr, 1649.’

Charles, King and Martyr, or Charles I, was king from 1625 until his execution on 30 January 1649, and his feast day in Anglican calendars falls on 30 January, the anniversary of his execution.

This observance was one of several ‘state services’ removed from the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England and the Church of Ireland in 1859. But there are churches and parishes dedicated to Charles the Martyr in England, and the former chapel in the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin, was also dedicated to him.

King Charles is still named in the calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship and is commemorated at the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall, Pusey House in Oxford, and by some Anglo-Catholic societies, including the Society of King Charles the Martyr founded in 1894.

King Charles is regarded by many as a martyr because, it is said, he was offered his life if he would abandon the historic episcopacy in the Church of England. It is said he refused, however, believing that the Church of England was truly Catholic and should maintain the Catholic episcopate.

Mandell Creighton, Bishop of London, wrote, ‘Had Charles been willing to abandon the Church and give up episcopacy, he might have saved his throne and his life. But on this point Charles stood firm: for this he died, and by dying saved it for the future.’

The political reality, though, is that Charles had already made an Engagement with the Scots to introduce Presbyterianism in England for three years in return for the aid of Scots forces in the Second English Civil War.

However, High Church Anglicans and royalists fashioned an image of martyrdom, and after the Restoration he was added to the Church of England’s liturgical calendar by a decision at the Convocations of Canterbury and York in 1660.

The red letter days or state commemorations in the calendar of the Book of Common Prayer included the Gunpowder Plot, the birth and restoration of Charles II, and the execution of Charles I. These were marked with special services and special sermons.

The State Services were omitted from the Book of Common Prayer by royal and parliamentary authority in 1859, but without the consent of Convocation. Later, Vernon Staley would describe the deletion as ultra vires and ‘a distinct violation of the compact between Church and Realm, as set forth in the Act of Uniformity which imposed the Book of Common Prayer in 1662.’

Of the three commemorations, only that of King Charles I was restored in the calendar in the Alternative Service Book in 1980, although not as a Red Letter Day. A new collect was composed for Common Worship in 2000.

I was reminded in London later today how King Charles I amassed an extraordinary art collection, acquiring works by some of the finest artists of the past, including Titian, Mantegna, Holbein, Dürer, and commissioning leading contemporary artists such as Van Dyck and Rubens.

After his execution in 1649, his collection was sold off and scattered across Europe. Many works were retrieved by Charles II after the Restoration, but others now form the core of museums such as the Louvre and the Prado.

The current exhibition at the Royal Academy, ‘Charles I: King and Collector,’ has brought together great masterpieces from this collection for the first time. It includes over 100 works of art, ranging from sculptures to paintings, and from miniatures to tapestries.

For the first time since the 17th century, this landmark exhibition brings together the astounding treasures that changed the taste of a nation. By bringing these works together, the exhibition demonstrates the radical impact they had at the time and sheds light on how they fostered a vibrant visual culture that was hitherto unknown in England.


King of kings and Lord of lords,
whose faithful servant Charles
prayed for those who persecuted him
and died in the living hope of your eternal kingdom:
grant us by your grace so to follow his example
that we may love and bless our enemies,
through the intercession of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A ‘lost local’ in Lichfield
and an old pub that has
survived on Market Street

The Oxfam shop on Market Street, Lichfield … once the Castle Inn, dating back to the 16th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

I was writing earlier this week about the Three Crowns on Breadmarket Street, Lichfield, a ‘lost local’ pub and the inn where Samuel Johnson stayed frequently during his return visits home to Lichfield.

Johnson was born next door in the corner house that is now the Samuel Johnson Birthplace and Museum. He obviously loved the inns and taverns of Lichfield, for he wrote on 21 March 1776: ‘There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.’

At one time, however, there were so many pubs in this part of the heart of Lichfield, that magistrates considered reducing their numbers in the 1930s and cancelling their licences.

One of these, around the corner from the former Three Crowns is the former Castle Inn at Nos 16 and 16A Market Street.

This is a Grade II listed building, and is a Tudor-era, timber-frame building that dates from the late 16th century.

This is a three-storey building with a two-window range, jettied upper floors and two gables. Building has moulded bressumers – the one on the first floor is on joist ends, while the one on the second floor is on end corbel heads.

The first floor has 1:3:1-light canted oriels on shaped brackets with leaded glazing and iron opening casements. The second floor has three-light windows with wooden-ovolo-mullioned windows that have leaded glazing.

The square framing has herring-bone bracing on the first floor, and decorative bracing on the second floor.

The rear of the building is almost as interesting, but with plainer framing, a gabled wing and a smaller gabled wing to the left.

The Castle Inn was managed by David Cox in 1793, and later it was run by his son David Cox from 1818 to 1850. The last landlord was William Norman Gallimore, and the Castle Inn closed as a pub in 1962.

Today, the former Castle Inn is divided into offices and a shop for Oxfam, with a late 20th century timber shopfront on a brick plinth with an entry to the right.

A few doors away, the Scales has survived as a pub at No 24 Market Street. This too is a Grade II listed building on the south side of Market Street, and dates from the early to mid-18th century.

The pub derives its name from a time when it was the venue for the jockeys’ weighing room at a time when races were held at venues throughout the Lichfield area in the 18th and 19th century.

This two-storey, five-window range building has interesting stucco work on the façade, a tile roof with brick stacks, platt bands over both floors and at the top there is a coped parapet.

The entrance to the right of the centre has a doorcase with pilasters and a bracketed cornice, and there is a stained-glass overlight above the panelled door. The carriage entrance to the left end is an interesting feature that has survived since this was one of Lichfield’s old coaching inns.

Two windows on the ground floor have consoled cornices, one to the right end has a bracketed cornice, indicating that this may have been the original entrance, and one window has a plain opening; all these windows have etched plate glass.

On the first floor, the window at the left end is 4:12:4-pane tripartite sash window; the other windows have cross-casements with iron opening casements. There are gabled wings at the rear of the building.

The Scales at 24 Market Street is another of Lichfield’s ancient inns. There was a tavern or inn on this site in the 17th century, and it was well established by 1784 when the Freemasons established their earliest known lodge in Lichfield here. Lodge 224 (originally designated 220) on the register of the Antients Grand Lodge was formed at the Scales Inn on 10 March 1784 and was officially constituted on 1 April 1784. This was the seventh lodge to be constituted in the County of Staffordshire, since the formation of Grand Lodge in 1717.

This lodge ‘swapped sides’ and became a ‘Moderns Lodge’ that was constituted as Lodge of Unity on 24 July 1787 at the Three Crowns Inn around the corner in Breadmarket Street Lichfield. The last record of this lodge was of a celebration meeting with a parade to Lichfield Cathedral on 16 September 1797. The lodge had closed by 1811.

Meanwhile, in 1793, it was run by John Hill, and was run by members of the Hill family 1834, and in the early part of the 19th century it was known as the Swan and Scales.

The races continued in Lichfield until the racecourse was moved permanently to Whittington Heath with the opening of Whittington Barracks in 1895.

Neil Coley notes that from 1879 to 1905, the landlord of the Scales was Charles Smallwood, who also ran a tobacconists’ business, livery stables and a carriage and car hire company, which he ran from the stables in the pub yard. He died in June 1905 when he struck a match to light his cigar, startling his horse, who bolted – Smallwood’s trap overturned, he fractured his skull and died.

His son, Charles H Smallwood, took over the business, but ended his own life tragically at Torquay in 1923. Two years later, the pub was run by RC Cornwell, who offered bed and breakfast at 5 shillings a night.

The Scales almost closed in the 1930s, when magistrates suggested there were too many licensed premises in Market Street. But the threatened closer was averted when Woolworth opened across the street, brining more business into Market Street.

In the early 1970s, the pub still displayed a jockey in blue and yellow silks sitting on the weighing scales.

The Scales … a link with Lichfield’s racing past (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Additional reading:

John Shaw, The Old Pubs of Lichfield (Lichfield: George Lane Publishing, 2001/2007).

Neil Coley, Lichfield Pubs (Stroud: Amberley, 2016).