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Record Details

MonUID:MST48
HER Number:00048
Type of record:Monument
Name:Grey Friars / Lichfield Friary

Summary

The scheduled remains of a Franciscan Friary, established circa 1237. The original buildings were completed by 1286, although were destroyed by fire in 1291 and rebuilt. The friary was suppressed in August 1538, although the extent of the friary estate survived within the townscape until the 1920s. Remains of the friary church still stand, and the library almost certainly includes fabric of the cloistral ranges.

Grid Reference:SK 1152 0927
Map Sheet:SK10NW
Parish:Lichfield, Lichfield District
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Monument Type(s):

  • CHURCH (Built, Norman - 1237 AD to 1237 AD (Circa))
  • FRIARY (Established, Norman - 1237 AD to 1237 AD (Circa))
  • PRECINCT WALL (Built, Norman - 1237 AD? to 1237 AD? (Circa))
  • FINDSPOT (ROMAN - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FRIARY (Dissolved, POST MEDIEVAL - 1538 AD to 1538 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Norman to MEDIEVAL - 1100 AD to 1399 AD)

Associated Finds:

  • SHERD (ROMAN - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Norman to MEDIEVAL - 1100 AD to 1399 AD)

Associated Events:

  • EST1760 - An archaeological desk-based assessment of the Friary Outer site, Lichfield. (Ref: OSA Report No. OSA06DT01)
  • EST1779 - A geophysical survey at the Outer Friary, Lichfield. (Ref: J2343)
  • EST616 - Proposal for analysis of an archaeological excavation and watching brief at 15 Sandford Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire.
  • EST744 - An archaeological evaluation of land at the junction of Sandford Street and Swan Road, Lichfield, Staffordshire. (Ref: Project No. 986)
  • EST898 - An archaeological desk-based assessment at 15 Sandford Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire. (Ref: Marches Archaeology Series 058)
  • EST233 - An archaeological assessment and evaluation of the Franciscan Friary, Lichfield, Staffordshire.
  • EST915 - An archaeological watching brief at Staffordshire University Lichfield Campus, The Friary, Lichfield, Staffordshire. (Ref: Project No. 749)
  • EST920 - An archaeological evaluation at No. 1 Bird Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire. (Ref: C.A.T. Job: 0484 / C.A.T. Report: 95277)
  • EST1752 - A programme of archaeological excavation and recording at Friar's Alley, Lichfield. (Ref: 420)
  • EST195 - Un-named event/activity
  • EST899 - An archaeological evaluation at 15 Sandford Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire (Ref: Marches Archaeology Series 064)
  • EST900 - An archaeological excavation and watching brief at 15 Sandford Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire.
  • EST921 - An archaeological watching brief at No. 1 Bird Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire. (Ref: Marches Archaeology Series 103)

Protected Status:

  • Scheduled Monument 1008544: Grey Friars

Full description

Friary: The Franciscan friary at Lichfield was established circa 1237, with the buildings completed in circa 1286 but were destroyed by fire in 1291 and rebuilt. It was suppressed in August 1538, at which point the brethren were reluctant leave despite being in debt and relatively poor. The church consisted of an aisled nave with an aisless quire. A portion of the north wall of the nave still stands to a height of circa 0.8 metres. Two cloisters. A new road was built across the site of the friary and the former school (now library - see PRN 07566) on the south side of the road almost certainly includes fabric of the cloistral ranges. <1>

The Franciscan friary was founded by Bishop Alexander in 1237. It had an unusually large church. The five bay nave measured 35.5 metres by 18 metres and the chancel, apparently of the same period, measured 29 metres by 8.5 metres. The crossing had massive foundations indicative of a tower of considerable size. A passage from the chancel led to a 24 metre square cloister. <2>

The cemetery associated with the friary was found to extend north into the plot of No. 1 Bird Street. <4>

Material from the demolished friary buildings was found to form the foundations of the wall that comprises Friar's Alley (see PRN 51637). (LH, 03-Sept-2007) <6>

A desk-based assessment suggested that evidence of the medieval defences and watercourse could run through the site, and that the remains of the friary outer could yield information on the nature of industry at that time. (LH, 05-Sept-2007) <7>

A geophysical survey of the Friary Outer cark park suggested that, while there is no strong evidence for structural remains within the car park, there are areas of possible archaeological disturbance. (LH, 07-Sept-2007) <8>

The base of a medieval wall was seen in an archaeological evaluation carried out to the rear of 15 Sandford Street. This was interpreted as probably being the precinct wall of the Friary. (DAL, 01/04/2010) <9>

The footings of a substantial masonry wall had been constructed upon the site of two tanning pits which contained 12th/13th century pottery in their fill. A third tanning pit, containing 13th/14th century pottery, was also sealed beneath the wall. Pottery dating to the mid 13th/14th century was recovered from the construction trench of the wall; which suggests that it may be contemporary with the construction of the Friary. Indeed it seems likely that the wall formed part of the boundary to the precinct. This evidence is interesting in that it shows that the Friary had encroached upon ground that had previously been used for a single industrial process. The similarity of the pottery from the third pit and from the construction trench suggests that the change of use was fairly rapid. (DAL, 01/04/2010) <10>

At the northern edge of the friary precinct a layer of medieval soil was identified yielding much 12th - 14th century pottery and a sherd of Roman samian ware. (DAL, 08/04/2010) <11>

The HER polygon has been amended to reflect the extent of the Friary estate as depicted on the 1638 plan of the site. (DAL, 10/09/2010) <12>

Sources and further reading

---SST3566 - Other Report: Nick Tavener (Marches Archaeology). 2001. 15 Sandford Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire: Project Proposal for analysis of an Archaeological Excavation and Watching Brief.
---SST3701 - Evaluation Report: Eleanor Ramsey (Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit). 2002. Junction of Sandford Street and Swan Road, Lichfield, Staffordshire: An Archaeological Evaluation 2002.
---SST3702 - Desk Based Assessment Report: CPM. 1999. Sandford Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire. An Archaeological Assessment.
<1>SST337 - Descriptive text: MARTIN AR. FRANCISCAN ARCHITECTURE IN ENGLAND.
<2>SST1501 - Serial: Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society. 1934. Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Volume 68 (1934). Pages 53-55 by P. Laithwaite.
<3>SST3113 - Evaluation Report: C. M. Welch (Staffordshire County Council). 1991. The Franciscan Friary, Lichfield: A Reassessment.
<4>SST3316 - Evaluation Report: Brona Langton (Cotswold Archaeological Trust). 1995. No.1 Bird Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire: Archaeological Evaluation.
<5>SST3463 - Watching Brief Report: Richard Stone (Marches Archaeology). 1999. 1 Bird Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire: Report on a Watching Brief.
<6>SST4340 - Excavation Report: Jo Wainwright (Marches Archaeology). 2006. Friar's Alley, The Friary Car Park, Lichfield, Staffordshire: A Report on a Programme of Archaeological Work. Pages 1-19.
<7>SST4348 - Desk Based Assessment Report: Ian McIntyre (On Site Aarchaeology Ltd). 2006. The Friary Outer, Lichfield: Archaeological Desktop Survey. Pages 3-5.
<8>SST4367 - Geophysical Survey Report: Hannah Heard (Stratascan). 2007. Geophysical Survey Report: Outer Friary, Lichfield, Staffordshire. Page 3.
<9>SST3467 - Evaluation Report: R. Stone, J. Wainwright and G. Dawkes (Marches Archaeology). 1999. 15 Sandford Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire: Report on an Evaluation Excavation.
<10>SST3787 - Excavation Report: Nick Tavener (Marches Archaeology). 2001. 15 Sandford Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire: Assessment Report on the Excavation and Watching Brief.
<11>SST2914 - Serial: CBA West Midlands (J. Willis - Editor). 1986. West Midlands Archaeology 29 (1986). 'Friars Alley: SK116 094' by A. Simpson, pages 29-30.
<12>SST288 - Other Report: Staffordshire County Council Education Department. 1970. Lichfield Maps: Local history source book L.6. 1638 plan.

Related records

56635Parent of: Classical Portico, Friary Gardens, Lichfield (Monument)
07566Parent of: Lichfield College, Library and Record Office, The Friary, Lichfield (Building)

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