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.