Lichfield

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Lichfield, diocese of. There were Celtic bishops from 656, but no formal see until c.669, owing allegiance to Lindisfarne, not Canterbury. Though the modern diocese comprises only Staffordshire and north Shropshire, the Mercian see also included Derbyshire and most of Warwickshire. Theodore of Canterbury nominated Chad as first bishop (d. 672). Lichfield became briefly (788–803) an archiepiscopal see, while Offa, as bretwalda, was in conflict with Canterbury. After the Norman Conquest, the see was nominally moved to Chester c.1075, only to be moved again in 1102 to Coventry abbey. The bishopric had the title ‘Coventry and Lichfield’, reflecting the continuance of administration in Lichfield despite the see's peregrinations. Serious disputes over episcopal elections ensued between the monastic chapter of Coventry and the secular canons of Lichfield. The creation of the separate Chester diocese in 1541 reduced Lichfield's significance, though the dissolution of Coventry abbey enabled the Lichfield chapter's sole right to elect to be recognized in the reversed title ‘Lichfield and Coventry’. In 1836 Coventry came under the Worcester diocese, further reducing Lichfield's significance. The 12th–13th-cent. cathedral of red sandstone with three spires was badly damaged in the Civil War, restored in the 1660s, and again in the 19th cent.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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