Thursday, 14 October 2021

An old postcard in a thread
that links the Hedgehog
with Lichfield Cathedral

Christ in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus … a panel in Herkenrode glass windows in the Lady Chapel in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

During my ‘mini-retreat’ in Lichfield this week, I have been staying at the Hedgehog Vintage Inn on the northern edges of the cathedral city, close to the junction of Stafford Road and Cross in Hand Lane.

It has been a pleasant, 20-minute stroll along Beacon Street into the cathedral each day, to join in the Mid-Day Eucharist and Evening Prayer or Choral Evensong.

The Hedgehog stands in its own grounds, in a tranquil, semi-rural setting. Since I last stayed here, the house, bar and dining area have been refurbished, but it still retains all the charm of a country house that has become a boutique hotel.

A new framed display near the bar recalls that this was once Lyncroft House, and that it was the home of the Italian-born composer Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), who rented the house from the Earl of Lichfield after his last public performance in 1828, and moved to Lichfield with his wife and family. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Framed postcards from Lichfield at a window in the Hedgehog Vintage Inn (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

In the window area, where I have been sitting for a drink each evening after dinner are two framed collections of postcards. One collection includes postcards showing the house in Lichfield where Samuel Johnson was born, and another depicts Samuel Johnson’s statue in the Market Place.

A second collection of postcards includes Lichfield Cathedral, Beacon Gardens and Christ Church, Lichfield, and the back of a postcard with a personal message to Brother Samuel SSF, congratulating him on becoming the Guardian of Hilfield Priory in Dorchester.

The image on the other side of the postcard cannot be seen, but the caption says it is a photograph by Sonia Halliday and Laura Lushington of a panel in the central East Window in the Lady Chapel in Lichfield Cathedral.

The windows of the Lady Chapel contain some of the finest mediaeval Flemish Painted Glass. They date from the 1530s and were reinstalled in 2015. They date from the 1530s and the seven Renaissance Herkenrode glass windows represent the greatest collection of unrestored 16th century Flemish glass anywhere.

The windows were bought by Lichfield Cathedral to replace the mediaeval stained destroyed during the English Civil War in the mid-17th century. The glass came from the Abbey of Herkenrode, now in Belgium, in 1801. They were bought by Sir Brooke Boothby when the abbey was dissolved during the Napoleonic Wars, and they were then sold on to the cathedral for the same price and were brought to England in 1803.

The postcard to Brother Samuel is obviously illustrated with the panel above the altar in the Lady Chapel showing Christ as the guest in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany. I have been sitting under this panel in the Lady Chapel each day this week.

Autumn sunshine at the Hedgehog in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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