09 January 2019

An invitation to speak
in Lichfield on stories of
the Comberford family

Comberford Hall, between Tamworth and Lichfield … I have been invited to speak to Lichfield Civic Society on 17 September on ‘The Comberfords of Comberford Hall and the Moat House’

Patrick Comerford

Lichfield Civic Society has announced its programme for 2019, and I am delighted to have been invited back to speak again this year.

I have been invited to speak on 17 September 2019 on the Comberfords of Comberford Hall and the Moat House. Comberford village is in the Parish of Wigginton and Alrewas, within Lichfield District Council, and the Moat House was the Comberford family’s Elizabethan town house on Lichfield Street, Tamworth.

Successive generations of the Comberford family were involved in the civic, political, social and ecclesiastical life of Lichfield over the centuries. The family became directly engaged in the life of Lichfield in the 15th and 16th centuries, with bequests to the Franciscan Friary and through membership of the Guild of Saint Mary and Saint John, effectively the city government of Lichfield from 1387 until 1548.

In 1530, Dame Isabella Cumberforde (Isabel Biggs), wife of Judge Richard Comberford, was admitted to the Guild, indicating her strong commercial interests in Lichfield. Her husband, Richard Comberford, is supposed to be the immediate ancestor of the Comerford family in Ireland. Later, Henry Comberford was Precentor of Lichfield at the time of the Reformation.

The involvement of the family in the life of Lichfield continued into the 17th century, when both Colonel William Comberford and his nephew, also William Comberford, were involved in the siege of Lichfield. William Comberford ‘the nephew’ appears to have lived in Lichfield, drawing on his neighbours in the city in 1641 to form trusts that secured his interest in the mortgaged Comberford estates.

Colonel William Comberford was the Royalist High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1643, and he fought at the siege of Lichfield in the English Civil War.

After the fall of Tamworth, as the Moat House was being ransacked, William Comberford escaped to Lichfield, where once again he joined the royalist army defending the city against a new siege. The family continued to live in Lichfield until the end of the 17th century.

The Lichfield Civic Society was founded over half a century ago on 24 February 1961 at a public meeting held in the Guildhall. The meeting was described at the time as ‘probably as representative a gathering as any that had ever come together in Lichfield,’ and the turnout indicated the extent of concern in the 1960s for the future of the city.

At an early stage, the society established a number of study groups to investigate the heights of buildings, distribution of open spaces, street furniture, the preservation of buildings, development and planning, trees and planting and footpaths.

It could be said that the historic City of Lichfield would be different today had members of Lichfield Civic Society and other like-minded people failed to make their voices heard at that time.

Today, Lichfield Civic Society continues to comment on a variety of local planning and environmental issues, including housing development, new shopping facilities and excessive street furniture. The society also organises a series of monthly meetings that are addressed by speakers on a wide variety of topics.

Speaking at Lichfield Civic Society last April on the Wyatt family of Weeford

I was invited to speak to Lichfield Civic Society last year [24 April 2018] on the Wyatt family of Weeford, a family from the Lichfield area that for successive generations had immeasurable influences on architecture and building design in these islands.

The full programme for this year which was published this week is:

Thursday 17 January 2019: Ian Harvey, ‘The History and Future of the Civic Movement.’

Tuesday 19 February 2019: Annual General Meeting, followed by Dr Mike Hodder, ‘Letocetum – the Roman Fort and Settlement at Wall.’

Thursday 21 March 2019: Ned Williams, ‘Looking at Shops.’

Tuesday 23 April 2019: Louise Morris, ‘Transforming the Trent Valley.’

Thursday 23 May 2019: Phillip Modiano, ‘The Revd John Louis Petit (1801-1868), Artist and Architectural Critic.’

Tuesday 18 June 2019: David Wilkinson, ‘My twenty favourite Staffordshire Places.’

Thursday 18 July 2019: Richard Stone, ‘Offa – the Quality of Mercia.’

Tuesday 17 September 2019: Patrick Comerford, ‘The Comberfords of Comberford Hall and the Moat House.’

Thursday 17 October 2019: June Jukes, ‘The work of the Friends of Cannock Chase.’

Tuesday 19 November 2019: Alan Hill, ‘The Life and Works of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.’

Tuesday 17 December 2019: Jonathan Oates, ‘The Butcher, the Baker and the Undertaker, Lichfield’s Victorian Tradesmen.’

The meetings begin at 7.45 p.m. in Wade Street Church Community Hall, Frog Lane, Lichfield, unless otherwise indicated. Non-Members are always welcome. Admission is £3, and free to members and school students.

Wade Street Church … the Community Hall at Frog Lane is the venue for the Lichfield Civic Society meetings (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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