Coventry and Lichfield, Ancient See of

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See of Coventry and Lichfield, medieval diocese of England, a suffragan see of canterbury (Latin, Lichfeldensis ). The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia was originally converted to Christianity by cedd and his companions c. 652. When Cedd's brother chad was made bishop of the great Mercian diocese c. 669, he established his episcopal seat in Lichfield, west-central England (15 miles north-northeast of modern Birmingham). King Offa of Mercia received Pope adrian i's sanction to constitute it an archiepiscopal see, and for a short time (786803) Lichfield was England's third archdiocese. In 1075, after the Norman Conquest, the bishop's seat in the diocese was removed to chester and then, perhaps because of the hostility of the Welsh, to Coventry (1102), where the monks of Coventry Abbey constituted the ca thedral chapter. However, throughout the Middle Ages Lichfield retained its cathedral chapter of secular canons as well as an episcopal palace and was the center of administration for the Coventry and Lichfield diocese. Pope gregory ix decreed that the two chapters alternate in the election of the bishop. Outstanding bishops included Walter Langton, Richard scrope, John catrik, and William booth, while the last Catholic bishop was Ralph Bayne (d. 1559). Under King henry viii (1541) the Anglican Diocese of Chester was carved out of the old medieval boundaries of Coventry-Lichfield and Lichfield replaced Coventry as the effective Anglican diocesan see, but in the 19th century it sank to the rank of a lesser diocese. The present Lichfield Cathedral is mainly 13th century. In 1895 the new Anglican Diocese of Coventry was constituted, and in 1918 this see was separated from Lichfield (see coventry cathedral).

Bibliography: bede, Eccl. hist. 3:28, 4:23. thomas of chesterfield, Historia de episcopis coventrensibus et lichfeldensibus, in v.1 of Anglia sacra (London 1691) 423443 (to 1347), ed. h. wharton, 44459 (continuation to 1575), ed. h. whitlock. j. le nve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 13001541 (1716). Corr. and cont. from 1215 by t. d. hardy, 3 v. (Oxford 1854); new ed. by h. p. f. king et al. (London 1962) v.10. w. dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London 165573); best ed. by j. caley et al., 6 v. (181730) 6.3: 12381266. w. bolton, Statutes of the Cathedral Church of L. (Stafford 1871). The Great Register of Lichfield Cathedral , ed. h. e. savage (Kendal 1926). e. goring, Lichfield Cathedral (Worcester 1954). a. j. kettle and d. a. johnson, A History of Lichfield Cathedral (Stafford 1982). j. maddison, ed. Medieval Archaeology and Architecture at Lichfield (London 1993). g. demidowicz, Coventry's First Cathedral: The Cathedral and Priory of St. Mary: Papers from the 1993 Anniversary Symposium (Stamford, Lincolnshire 1994).

[m. j. hamilton/eds.]