Monday, September 23, 2013

Even More Samuel Johnson!

Lichfield Cathedral  
N. and I went with my students to Samuel Johnson's London house (Tim had been there before), and a few days later, the three of us took a train to the small market town of Lichfield, in Staffordshire, for a day's visit to Johnson's birthplace.

First we spent a long time in the lovely Lichfield Cathedral, a historic Gothic structure.  We learned about the three different sieges on it during the Civil War, about the recently discovered Staffordshire Hoard (from which several gorgeous objects were on display), and about the ancient kingdom of Mercia.

Then we went to Johnson's childhood home.  N. enjoyed learning more about Johnson's youth, seeing relics such as a teapot and walking stick belonging to Johnson.  There was a temporary exhibit about a sculptural bust of Johnson's head, and N. liked seeing the objects assembled there as well as doing the related children's activities, such as drawing a bust and identifying elements of paintings.  As a cat lover, N. begged for a copy of the poem "An Elegy on the Death of Dr. Johnson's Favorite Cat" by Percival Stockdale, for sale in the museum shop.  I can hardly be expected to turn down a fervent request to purchase an elegant reprint of an eighteenth-century poem, printed with "long s" and all!

We took such a long time at the Cathedral and Johnson's house that we didn't get to the Erasmus Darwin House, though we did walk though its beautiful gardens. He's another fascinating eighteenth-century man I would have loved to introduce N. to, but that can wait.  Lichfield is a lovely little city and we had a really pleasant, leisurely day exploring it.

drawing a bust

Johnson's teapot

Johnson's house, Lichfield

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