Monday, 18 May 2009

Dr Johnson's Birthday Weekend

Excitement abounded in my household this weekend when details of this year's Tercentenary Celebrations in Lichfield zoomed into my inbox. The annual Johnson supper is a rather steep £45 per head, and dinner dress is required, but given it will probably be my last year as a member of The Johnson Society, I'll be making the most of it. The programme is below.

Friday, 18 September

From 6.30pm onwards - Reception and Get-together for all members, including visitors. This will be held in the GUILDHALL (not the Birthplace) as we are expecting a larger crowd than normal. There will be light refreshments and some readings.

From 8.00pm onwards everyone will be able to enjoy a son-et-lumière presentation in the Market Square, on the Market Square and Market Street faces of the Birthplace. Of course this part of the evening’s entertainment will be open to all members of the public.

Saturday, 19 September

10.30am Birthplace Museum - Civic Party, distinguished guests and Johnson Society Council attend cake-cutting ceremony.

11.30am All members are invited to assemble in the Guildhall, Bore Street, to join the Civic Party and guests when they process to the Market Square where the traditional wreath-laying takes place.

11.50am The Mayor of Lichfield will place a wreath on the Johnson Statue. There will be a short service during which the assembled crowd will hear Johnson’s Last Prayer sung by a local youth choir. Musical accompaniment will be provided by the musicians from King Edward VI School (Johnson’s old school).

Then, Society members are invited to return to the Guildhall where the Mayor and Civic Party will be present and a Toast will be drunk to “the immortal memory”.

12.30–4.30pm Following the formalities there is a piece of cake for the first visitors to the Birthplace and Intimate Theatre will be performing in the Market Square.

Information sheets will be available explaining where and when different activities are taking place in and around the City.

Saturday, 19 September - The Supper

6.30pm Drinks Reception in the Guildroom (beneath the Guildhall).

7.00pm Tercentenary Celebration Supper of the Johnson Society in the Guildhall in the presence of the Mayor and other Civic leaders, the Society’s President, Mr John Byrne, President-Elect, the Rt Rev Dr Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield and the Chairman and officers of the Society.

Sunday, 20 September

During the morning there will be an opportunity for those who wish to have a guided walk around the City sites associated with Johnson and his friends.

The Society has arranged for a Buffet Lunch in the Visitors’ Study Centre within the Cathedral Close. Lunches (two courses and including a glass of wine) will cost £16.50 per head. Please fill in the enclosed form and return with payment if you wish to attend.

3.30pm A Special Service of Choral Evensong at the Cathedral. The ‘Johnson Sermon’ will be preached by the Rt Rev Richard Chartres (Bishop of London).

6.00pm Melstock Band will be performing at the Guildhall. They will be playing a variety of music including some with an 18th century flavour. Tickets should be booked through Lichfield Arts who will have details of prices on 01543 262223 or online at: and not through The Johnson Society.

Monday, 21 September

11.00am Wreath-laying and Penance Commemoration at Uttoxeter Market Place will be attended by the Society’s new President and any members who wish to be present.

(Lichfield members will be able to offer lifts to Uttoxeter and to other surrounding places of Johnsonian interest).

We hope you will be able to attend some of these functions and help make this very special weekend a resounding success.

Photograph of Johnson statue in Lichfield market place © Memoirs of the Celebrated Mrs Woffington.

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Anonymous said...

Love your blog, which I have just discovered. Can anyone tell me whether "September 18" is the true birthday under our present calendar, or is it under the calendar then in effect---which would mean it would be a different date today?

Mrs Woffington said...

Hello there, many thanks for your comment and glad you're enjoying the blog! I must admit to being stumped by your question but I've asked Dr Nicholas Cambridge, Chairman of The Johnson Society of London, who has provided us with the answer:

"Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield on 7th September 1709 - but in 1752 Britain changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar with the 'loss' of 11 days, so that his birthday is now celebrated on 18th September."