A while ago we got wind of a fundraising scheme by The Friends of Lichfield Cathedral to auction off damaged sections of the cathedral that had been removed from the North and South Clerestory during the restoration of the East End of the building. Currently scattered around the cathedral lawn, the advert promised that the stones (which are 17th-century) could make a great garden feature and would come with a proper certificate of authentication. So off we went last Saturday to the stonemason's booth (above) to place bids on 1) part of a quatrefoil taken from below copings 2) the upper section of pinnacle and 3) copings from the Lady Chapel.
We'll get to know today if we've been successful. Perhaps, because the money goes towards the cathedral, we won't be subject to the harsh judgments of the monk, St Wulfstan, whose upset over the demolition of St Oswald's Anglo-Saxon cathedral at Worcester led him to remark: 'We miserable people have destroyed the work of saints, that we may provide praise for ourselves. The age of that most happy man did not know how to build pompous buildings, but knew how to offer themselves to God under any sort of roof, and to attract to their example subordinates. We on the contrary strive that, neglecting out souls, we may pile up stones.'
I live in the English cathedral city of Lichfield, which, despite having a population of fewer than 5,000 during the Georgian period, was home to many important artists and intellectuals including Samuel Johnson, David Garrick and Erasmus Darwin. I generally blog about the short 18th century (1715-1789), feisty Georgian ladies and Lichfield's 18th-century heritage. If you have any comments, feel free to email me at woffington [at] gmail [dot] com.
Virtually forgotten today, Margaret Woffington (also known as Peg or Peggy) would rise from humble origins to become one of Georgian London’s most famous actresses, sharing the stage with the likes of David Garrick and excelling in so-called ‘breeches roles’. Born around the year 1720 in Dublin, her childhood years were marred by the death of her father, which plunged her family into poverty. Having reputedly sold watercress barefoot in the streets of the Irish capital, she was soon talent-spotted by a tumbler known as Violante, who staged populist entertainments in booths around the city. Violante had a troupe of child actors called the Liliputians, and before long Woffington was making her debut as Polly Peachum in their version of The Beggar’s Opera. Moving to London, she gained plaudits for both her outstanding beauty and her talent – particularly in comedy – appearing at both Covent Garden and Drury Lane. Known for her quick wit and no-nonsense attitude, she had high-profile affairs with Garrick, Lord Darnley and Charles Hanbury Williams; she was also a generous benefactor, supporting her elderly mother and may even have endowed some almshouses in Teddington, where she had settled at the height of her success. She died, unmarried, in 1760, having suffered a long wasting illness, and is buried in Teddington's parish church of St Mary’s.
Step into the past...
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