8/29/2010

L is for Lichfield.


Over the weekend we visited Lichfield, a lovely old, character filled Cathedral city in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside. When we first married we lived fairly close and visited often. Nowadays our visits are few and far between and each time we go we keep our fingers crossed that the special places we so loved are still there.


Thankfully, Lichfield remains as charming and quirky as ever, with its Cathedral, market, historic houses and museums. Samuel Johnson was born here and Erasmus Darwin lived here too, his herb garden is not to be missed. There is also a wonderful old Tudor teahouse built in 1510 and still doing brisk business on the day of our visit.

We were very sad to see that the lovely old antiquarian bookshop was about to close its doors after 65 years, in fact the day we visited was one of its last days of trading. This shop once had an amazing stock selling not only antiquarian books but also sheet music, prints and ephemera and you could wander up rickety staircases through nine rooms filled with printed treasures. At first I did not see anything of interest in the few remaining rooms of stock until my eyes alighted on a small cardboard box on a bookshelf near the exit.



My heart skipped a beat when I saw the contents! This was more like it- tiny miniature editions, special facsimile editions, envelopes containing antique bookplates, toy books, old post cards, invitations to illustrators exhibitions and then this .. dated 1886, The Socialist Platform No 4 socialist League pamphlet, (probably unread because the pages had not been cut at the head) by William Morris with an illustration by Morris on the cover, price £1. Not a reproduction, the genuine article! Also going for a song where several copies of Kate Greenaway's Alphabet miniature facsimile books (1973) and unbound editions of "An Account of the life of Dr.Samuel Johnson from birth to eleven years".



After checking and rechecking with the owner that the prices were correct, all of them seemed too low even for a closing down sale, I finally came away with most of the contents of the box. I thought that I would keep some, give some and put a couple in my Etsy shop in order to share my good fortune with fellow book worms. I will be listing my finds in the next few days but I have no idea what I will do with the pamphlet, any ideas?



No trip to Lichfield would be complete without a visit to the Cathedral, so after a quick peep into the herb garden, we climbed the ancient stone steps up to the Chapel of St Chad, after paying our respects to the Lichfield Angel. As we sat in the little chapel the choir who were assembled for a practice started to sing, a fitting end to a heavenly day.

25 comments:

  1. Oh I wish I was with you.. what a great find.. it must have been so exciting but so sorry the old place is closing shop.. I bet many people will miss it.....

    ReplyDelete
  2. How I enjoyed this visit - I lived in Lichfield for six years in the 1960's and my son went to the Cathedral school there, so every word of your post was bring back happy memories. Lovely place.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Only been once - lovely place - and your William Morris find - would give my right arm!

    ReplyDelete
  4. what a lovely place to visit - i've not been there so far as i can remeber. but what a find!!! wow!!! clearly it was meant to be!! steven

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a lovely account of your expedition to Litchfield. And what wonderful finds in the bookstore, too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My Mum was born and raised in Lichfield, one of the favourite plants in her garden is the rose 'Lichfield Angel'. You've bought some gems from the bookshop especially the William Morris pamphlet which I would keep.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What special finds - I wonder if the Morris Society could tell you more about the pamphlet?

    I remember sitting in the Cathedral precinct last December listening to the organ thundering away and watching the jackdaws fly around the towers. So glad you enjoyed going back there.

    Celia

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm off to Lichfield on Thursday to do some research in the Archives Office! I love Erasmus Darwin's House and Herb garden. I think I know which book shop you mean - such a shame it is closing down. You picked up some lovely books. I wonder if the Society of Antiquaries who run William Morris's former home at Kelmscott Manor would be interested in the pamphlet?

    ReplyDelete
  9. A closeout sale at an antiquarian book shop??? Could there be anything more tempting??

    ReplyDelete
  10. A lovely holiday and this fabulous day out with so many beautiful things to inspire. Lichfield looks like a secret gem of a place, with so many memories for you...and treasures too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A beautiful city indeed. Your book finds are just lovely. I would find it hard to part with them!

    ReplyDelete
  12. My heart skipped a beat also when you described the precious documents you discovered.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow, and wow again, Valerie.

    What a discovery you have made.

    Yes, do get in touch with the Wm Morris Society. (You've reminded me that years ago, I used to be a member. Seems ages ago, now.)

    I would love to have seen that book shop in its heyday, and glad that you were able to visit before its doors truly do get locked.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a lovely day your photos are wonderful and what a find!

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a fabulous treasure!! it was meant for you. I, too, hate to see lovely old bookshops close their doors forever. It's like a death, in a way. Sad.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Do y'all have any idea how magical this all sounds to a girl who lives in the American South? If I run up on some old shack that was built 100 years ago, it's a big DEAL!! And here you all are, drifting into and out of Lichfield and all of these wonderful old places every day. My head is spinning. Those engravings and the other treasures you found in the old bookshop are beautiful and priceless. I can only dream...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wonderful that the box of treasures found its way to an appreciative home!

    ReplyDelete
  18. L is for Lucky Lady too!
    love
    Lyn
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
  19. I had no idea Lichfield was so beautiful. What wonderful finds, but sad to hear about the shop closing.

    ReplyDelete
  20. A heavenly day indeed.
    I think I had better ad Litchfield to the list of places I must visit when next in England.
    The tree pictures looks as if Morris had been looking long and hard at dear Samuel Palmer!
    What treasures you discovered!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am sitting here totally green with envy at your stroke of luck. What a wonderful find. It just goes to show that you should always investigate dusty old boxes for the contents may be magical. I haven't been to Lichfield but it looks well worth a visit. Pity the book shop is closing though. Just my sort of place.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The town seems to be the beautiful history Museum.



    From Japan.
    Greetings.
    ruma

    ReplyDelete
  23. Valerie, what treasures!
    Diane

    ReplyDelete
  24. I live not too far from Lichfield and have never been. Reading your post makes the place come alive and we shall have to make the effort and visit.
    How lovely to come across the books of William Morris and Kate Greenaway but how sad that the bookshop is closing down after all this time :-(

    ReplyDelete
  25. I worked in Lichfield for a few years, and regularly used to visit that bookshop - it was one of the few places you find dealing in prints and ephemera. I was only thinking about it recently - tragic that it's closing. I envy your finds!

    ReplyDelete