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Heritage Weekend, Lichfield

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
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City Turns Out To Celebrate Samuel Johnson's 306th Birthday
Historic Lichfield was packed with visitors eager to find out more about the many old and interesting buildings that make up this attractive cathedral city.

The doors of many of Lichfield's ancient and historic buildings threw open their doors - some for the only time this year - as part of Lichfield Heritage Weekend which took place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 September.

City of Lichfield Concert Band, Lichfield Cathedral
The City of Lichfield Concert Band perform outside Lichfield Cathedral

The theme of the heritage weekend was 'Making History', providing an opportunity for people to celebrate Lichfield's creative past and present.

But there was also the secondary occasion of Samuel Johnson's 306th birthday celebrations which took place in the Market Square on Saturday.

Lichfield Heritage Weekend, Dr Samuel Johnson
The 306th birthday celebrations for Dr Samuel Johnson

A wreath was placed on the statue of the great literary figure and a birthday cake was also shared among visitors, but the last slice had gone by the time I got there.

Historic venues that took part in the Heritage Weekend included Lichfield Cathedral, The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Erasmus Darwin House, and the church of St Mary's in the Market Square.

Dr Milley's Hospital, Lichfield Heritage Weekend
Dr Milley's Hospital, providing a safe haven for women for nearly 700 years

There was also a rare chance to see Dr Milley's Hospital, one of the oldest remaining buildings in Lichfield which has been providing a refuge for women in need since the 15th century. Having been rebuilt in 1504 the alms house still provides homes for 10 women today.

Dr Milley's Hospital, Lichfield Heritage Weekend
A costumed character points the way to Dr Milley's Hospital

Another hidden gem opening its doors was St John's Hospital, an alms house for men aged over 60, while visitors could also explore Wade Street Church and the City Cells in the Guildhall, where visitors could meet costumed characters including police officers from bygone days courtesy of The Black Country Players.

Guildhall City Cells, Lichfield Heritage Weekend
Police from Lichfield's past at the city cells

The crowds were certainly boosted by the fantastic weather over the weekend, but Saturday's numbers were surely swelled by the activities and entertainment in the Market Square on Saturday, including face painting, trails, a craft tent where children could make a mini well dressing, and performances by Intimate Theatre and the City of Lichfield Concert Band.

Lichfield Heritage Weekend, quill writing, Hector Beane
Alan Rowe as Hector Beane displays quill writing

Children were also invited to take part in a craft activity using quill pens within St Mary's itself, aided by costumed historical characters such as benefactor Hector Beane, played by Alan Rowe.

Lichfield Heritage Weekend, town crier
Let's hear it for the mini town criers

There was also a Mini Town Crier Competition won by seven-year-old Freya Watson.

To add to the weekend fun, Lichfield Waterways Trust ran a number of popular tours while on Sunday Beacon Park ran a workshop, inviting visitors to create their own family seal and turn their paper designs into clay plaques.
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Why? Visit The Historic Heart of Lichfield During Heritage Weekend
When: 20 and 21 September, 2015
Phone: 01543 256611
Where: Breadmarket St, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 6LQ
Cost: Free
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