04 April 2022

The Earl of Lichfield who
made the Radcliffe Infirmary
Oxford’s great hospital

A portrait of George Henry Lee, 3rd Earl of Lichfield, in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Arriving in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford last week for further treatment for my stroke, I noticed the name of the Lichfield Day Surgery Unit in the West Wing, a few floors below the Neuroscience Ward, where I was staying.

But why, I wondered, did a unit in the hospital have the name Lichfield?

As I walked through the hospital corridors I came across a portrait by an unknown artist of the Third Earl of Lichfield (1718-1772), and so I learned about the links between an Earl of Lichfield and the world-renowned hospital in Oxford.

The Earl of Lichfield made the dream of an infirmary in Oxford a reality and was the first President of the Radcliffe Infirmary.

George Henry Lee II (1718-1772), 3rd Earl of Lichfield, was one of the Radcliffe Trustees who decided in 1758 to use £4,000 from the legacy of Dr John Radcliffe to erect a county hospital that would eventually become the John Radcliffe.

Lord Lichfield also shared in both the choice of Stiff Leadbetter as the architect and was involved in the local supervision of the building.

He was deeply involved in public life in Oxford as MP for Oxford County (1740-1743) and Chancellor of the University of Oxford. He was described as a ‘jolly, good humoured man’ who kept a genial and convivial eye of county, city and university affairs.

Wharton wrote that he was ‘skilled to lend dignity with ease, to unite affability with propriety, and to embellish good sense with all the graces of wit.’ Archbishop Secker said of him, ‘He sometimes drank too much but I have been assured that he doth not habitually.’

George Lee was born on 21 May 1718 at Windsor Castle, the son of George Henry Lee I, 2nd Earl of Lichfield. His father was a great-grandson of King Charles II through his illegitimate daughter Charlotte Fitzroy by his mistress Barbara Villiers. His mother, Frances (Hales), was brought up a Catholic by her father, Sir John Hales, who was the 2nd Earl of Tenterden in the Jacobite peerage.

From birth, he was known as Viscount Quarendon as heir to the title of Earl of Lichfield. He was educated at Saint John’s College, Oxford. He became an MA of Oxford in 1732. He was MP for the county of Oxford in 1740-1742. When his father died on 15 February 1743, he succeeded as the 3rd Earl of Lichfield. Later that year he received the degree DCL at Oxford. His links with the university continued: in 1760 he became the High Steward of the University of Oxford, in 1762 he came Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

The Gentleman’s Magazine noted in 1763 that ‘The graceful dignity, the polite condescension, the ne quid nimis (‘Let there be nothing in Excess’) of the Chancellor were universally admired.’

He was a member of the Privy Council and his other offices and sinecures included Lord of the Bedchamber to King George III (1760), Captain of the Band of Gentlemen Pensioners (1762), Deputy Ranger of Hampton Court Park (1762), and Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire (1763). He was also a Vice-President of the Society of Arts.

Lord Lichfield and his wife Diana or Dinah, daughter of Sir Thomas Frankland, were married in Bath on 16 January 1745. They had no children, and when he died on 17 September 1772 the title of Earl of Lichfield passed to his uncle Robert Lee (1706-1776) as Fourth Earl of Lichfield. He too was MP for Oxford (1754-1768).

Because both the third and fourth earls had no sons to inherit the title of Earl of Lichfield title, it died out in 1776 and the Lee family estate at Ditchley was eventually inherited by Lady Charlotte Lee, eldest surviving sister of the third earl. Lady Charlotte had married the 11th Viscount Dillon in 1744, and their son, Charles Dillon-Lee (1745-1813), 12th Viscount Dillon, inherited the Ditchley estate, which remained the home of the Viscounts Dillon until 1934.

Although the title of Earl of Lichfield died out in the Lee family, it was later revived in 1831 for Thomas Anson at the coronation of William IV. And as well as George Henry Lee, the 3rd Earl of Lichfield who helped to shape the Radcliffe Hospital, there was another 3rd Earl of Lichfield in the person of Thomas Francis Anson, (1856-1918).

The Lichfield Day Surgery Unit is in the West Wing in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Praying at the Stations of the Cross in
Lent 2022: 4 April 2022 (Station 2)

Jesus takes up his Cross … Station 2 in the Stations of the Cross in the Church of the Annunciation, Clonard, Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Passiontide began yesterday, the Fifth Sunday in Lent (3 April 2022), and often in the past this week has been known as Passion Week.

Before today day begins, I am taking some time early this morning (4 April 2022) for prayer, reflection and reading.

During Lent this year, in this Prayer Diary on my blog each morning, I have been reflecting on the Psalms each morning. But during these two weeks of Passiontide, Passion Week and Holy Week, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, Short reflections on the Stations of the Cross, illustrated by images in the Church of the Annunciation, Clonard, Wexford, and the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the lectionary adapted in the Church of Ireland;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Station 2, Jesus takes up his Cross:

In an unusual arrangement, the Stations of the Cross in the church in Clonard are set in the curved outer wall of the church in 14 windows designed by Gillian Deeny of Wicklow. In her windows, she emphasises the role of women in the Passion story.

Her windows were made in association with Abbey Glass, where she worked with the cut-out shapes of coloured glass, the pigment being a mixture of lead oxide, ground glass and colour. Each window is signed by the artist.

The Stations of the Cross on the north and south walls of the nave in Stoney Stratford were donated in memory of John Dunstan (1924-1988).

The Second Station in the Stations of the Cross is an awkward moment as Christ receives the Cross. In the Second Station in Clonard, Christ holds the Cross gently with his left hand and his right arm. But he is going to have to turn around so that he can carry it on his shoulder and his back. Behind him are the women who are going to stay with him throughout his Passion and who are going to be with him at the foot of the Cross.

The Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia) is often translated as ‘conversion,’ or a transformative change of heart,’ especially: a spiritual conversion.’ But the Hebrew and Latin equivalents convey the sense of having to turn around. I first turned around and found myself on a new journey in faith when I walked into the chapel in Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, on a summer evening in 1971, when I was a 19-year-old.

In the Second Station in Stony Stratford, Christ retains his composure and his regal dignity as he takes his Cross and prepares to put in on his shoulder before facing towards his Passion. Having received the Cross, Christ is going to turn around for his journey to Calvary. In Lent, he invites us too to turn around too and to join him on this journey.

Jesus takes up his Cross … Station 2 in the Stations of the Cross in the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

John 8: 1-11 (NRSVA):

1 Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4 they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ 6 They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ 8 And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11 She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Meeting the Invisible.’ This theme was introduced yesterday by the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana Do Brasil. The prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (Monday 4 April 2022), invites us to pray:

Let us pray for the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil and its leading role as a beacon of inclusion and equality in Brazil.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org