A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14, Lichfield. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.
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The cathedral stands on a sandstone platform which runs east-west. Formerly the land sloped downwards on its north side as it still does on the south, and the constricted nature of the site was noted by William of Malmesbury. (fn. 1) According to a late 13th-century description, the cathedral lay between Lemansyche and Way Clife, evidently two roads. (fn. 2) The former may have been an early name for Gaia Lane, along the north side of the Close: Shaw Lane, the extension of Gaia Lane on the west side of Beacon Street, points towards Leamonsley. Way Clife may have been the road along the south side of the cathedral: the foundations of houses there are built up against a steep bank, evidently the 'cliff'. The Close covers 16 a., including land reclaimed out of Minster Pool on the south and a ditch on the other three sides. (fn. 3) From the mid or later 12th century a supply of fresh water was piped from springs at Pipe in Burntwood. (fn. 4) The Close became self-governing in 1441. (fn. 5)
There were presumably houses for clergy around the Anglo-Saxon cathedral. The surviving distribution of houses (fn. 6) may have originated in part under Bishop Clinton, who reorganized the cathedral clergy as a secular chapter, probably in the 1130s, and created the new town of Lichfield on a grid pattern of streets. (fn. 7) In the late 13th century the bishop's house and those of the cathedral clergy occupied sites whose size reflected the status of the occupant: the bishop's site, 320 ft. by 160 ft. in the north-east corner, was twice the size of the adjoining deanery, and the canons had 'places' half the size of the deanery. (fn. 8) By modern measurement the frontage of the bishop's site is c. 240 ft. and of the dean's c. 120 ft.; the frontage of a canonical plot should therefore be 60 ft. That is the width of three sites on the north side of the Close, although houses on the south side have 50-ft. frontages.
Bishop Langton, 1296–1321, built a new palace in the north-east corner and converted a canonical house in the north-west corner into a common residence for the vicars choral. It seems that he also built some canonical houses, (fn. 9) evidently including one in the south-west corner and probably one in the south-east. As part of his work on fortifying the Close with a stone wall and gates, he stopped a right of way which evidently ran along the road south of the cathedral. (fn. 10)
Houses for canonical residence were conferred by the bishop, (fn. 11) but other houses were assigned by the dean and chapter. In 1328 the chapter agreed that if a house was available, Robert Mavesyn, a layman, and his family should have it, (fn. 12) and in 1329 it converted a house to hold 'feasts and other necessities'. (fn. 13) Of nine houses listed in 1380–1, eight were occupied by canons and one by a laywoman, Maud, the widow of Sir Richard de Stafford. (fn. 14) In 1411 Bishop Burghill assigned a site nearly opposite the south door of the cathedral to the chantry priests for their common residence. At the end of the century two canons built themselves substantial brick houses on the sites of the later nos. 23 and 24, and a similar house was built by a canon on the site of the later no. 19 in the early 16th century. Also in the early 16th century a house west of the deanery on the north side of the Close was replaced by a common residence for the cathedral choristers. The Reformation caused a change in the use of only one house, that of the chantry priests, which passed into lay ownership.
During the Civil War the strategic importance of the Close was recognized by both royalist and parliamentarian forces which in turn garrisoned and besieged it. (fn. 15) The palace and several houses, especially on the north side, were badly damaged, (fn. 16) and the Commons ordered the demolition of the walls in 1646, repeating the order in 1647. (fn. 17) Because of the abolition of the cathedral chapter there were no clergy to repair the houses, which were quarried for building materials by 'poor and pilfering people' or abandoned to squatters. Pigs rooted in the graveyard, and by 1660 there were several alehouses. (fn. 18)
At the Restoration Bishop Hacket considered the palace beyond repair and chose to occupy a house on the south side of the Close, later the site of no. 19. A new palace was built on the old site in 1687. Other houses were restored by their occupants. Anthony Scattergood, Hacket's chaplain and prebendary of Prees, spent £300 in the later 1660s on rebuilding his house, (fn. 19) and Sir Walter Littleton, the diocesan chancellor, restored no. 24. The dean rebuilt the deanery in 1707. When Daniel Defoe visited the Close in the earlier 1720s he was impressed by the 'great many very well-built houses'. (fn. 20) A number of them were then let to laymen, as bishops chose not to live at Lichfield and few canons took up permanent residence. An Act of 1706 was unsuccessful in encouraging residence, and under cathedral statutes of 1752 canons were required to be in residence only one month or two months a year. (fn. 21) When letting houses in the 18th century canons normally reserved the right to occupy the house, or a part of it, during their term of residence. (fn. 22) The vicars choral also let their surplus houses to lay tenants by the earlier 17th century. (fn. 23)
In the late 1730s the chapter voiced its concern about the kind of tenant coming to live in the Close. (fn. 24) Some were tradesmen, despite a ban on their admittance by Dean Kimberley in 1717. (fn. 25) A glover was living there in 1728, a weaver in 1730 and 1743, and a tailor in 1754. A printer had his works in the Close in 1752, and there was a joinery and chairmaking business at least between 1755 and 1762. Private schools were run in the later 18th century. (fn. 26) In contrast, tenants of high social standing occupied the more substantial houses, especially the palace, and through their influence the Close became a centre of polite society in the 18th century. The chapter responded by improving the Close. Orders to repair the pavements were made in 1718 and 1721, and by the late 1740s a man was employed to keep the walks clean. (fn. 27) By the late 18th century a line of trees had been planted as a walk along the north and east sides. (fn. 28) The removal in 1757 of the library and chapter clerk's house on the north side of the cathedral was ordered partly for aesthetic reasons, and in 1786 the conduit north-west of the cathedral was demolished because it was considered unsightly. (fn. 29) The demolition of the south-east gate of the Close in the mid 18th century was intended to make access easier for coaches. (fn. 30) In the late 18th century there was a fashion for whitewashing the exterior of houses. (fn. 31)
By the earlier 18th century the houses on the south and east sides of the lower courtyard of the residence of the vicars choral had been remodelled to face the cathedral and the road from Beacon Street; later in the century houses on the west side were remodelled to front Beacon Street. At the east end of the Close the future Selwyn House was built in 1780 by a canon, and other houses were built in the west ditch of the Close in the 18th century. The construction in 1800 of Newton's College on the south side of the road from Beacon Street required the demolition of the medieval west gate and of a house which adjoined no. 24. The approach road, which had formerly been only some 15 ft. across, was widened; it was also lowered in order to provide a less steep gradient into the Close. (fn. 32)
An Act of 1797 under which the residentiary chapter was reorganized to comprise the dean and six canons was intended to make residence more attractive, and each residentiary was assigned a particular house. (fn. 33) Residence was required for only part of the year, and houses continued to be let to lay tenants. The Act, however, encouraged residentiaries to make repairs and improvements. (fn. 34) The Cathedrals Act of 1840 reduced the number of residentiaries to four, freeing two houses of which one, the future Bishop's House, was assigned to the chapter clerk and the other became the vicarage of St. Mary's, Lichfield. (fn. 35) By the late 19th century it seems that canons normally resided the whole year. New terms of residence made in 1937 confirmed that pattern. (fn. 36)
In 1989 the resident chapter still comprised the dean and four canons, each of whom was a dignitary. The precentor, whose office had formerly been attached to the first residentiaryship, lived in no. 23; the chancellor, formerly the second residentiary, lived in no. 13, having moved out of no. 12 when it was taken over by the Cathedral school in 1942; the treasurer, whose office was revived in 1905 and was assigned the prebends once held by the fifth residentiary, lived in no. 24; and the custos, whose office carrying responsibility for the cathedral building was created in 1937 and assigned the prebends once held by the fourth residentiary, lived in no. 20. Nearly all the houses in the Close, including the palace, were owned by the dean and chapter. The exceptions were Bishop's House and no. 6 (the bishop's chauffeur's house), which were the property of the Church Commissioners, and St. John's within the Close and no. 20, owned by the trustees of Lichfield Theological College. (fn. 37)
Royal visitors to Lichfield in the 12th and 13th centuries (fn. 38) presumably stayed in the Close. Edward II came to Lichfield several times. In 1309 the bishop had rooms prepared for him, presumably in the palace, (fn. 39) and in 1323 he stayed in the palace and the queen in the deanery. (fn. 40) In 1386 Richard II in the company of several magnates attended the enthronement of Bishop le Scrope. (fn. 41) He kept Christmas at Lichfield in 1397, staying until mid January. (fn. 42) He returned in May 1398, when he made a treaty with John, duke of Brittany, (fn. 43) and in September the same year on the occasion of the enthronement of his confessor, John Burghill. That ceremony was also attended by the archbishops of Canterbury, York, and Dublin, four English bishops, the dukes of York and Exeter, and several earls, and the king gave a feast in the palace to which all the cathedral clergy were invited. (fn. 44) Returning for Christmas in 1398, Richard lodged in the palace and received as guests a papal nuncio and an envoy of the Eastern Emperor, Manuel II. Tournaments, proclaimed as far away as Oxford, were held daily, probably up to Epiphany 1399, and a banqueting hall was built next to the great hall of the palace. (fn. 45) Within the year Richard was again in Lichfield as the prisoner of Henry Bolingbroke, earl of Lancaster (later Henry IV), en route from Chester to London. Richard spent St. Bartholomew's day (24 August), a Sunday, incarcerated in the archdeacon of Chester's house in Beacon Street, whence he apparently attempted an escape. (fn. 46)
Later royal visitors included Charles I three times in 1645 when the Close was a royalist garrison, (fn. 47) James II in 1687, William III in 1690, (fn. 48) Princess Victoria in 1832 and again as queen in 1843, (fn. 49) and Queen Adelaide, the widow of William IV, in 1839. (fn. 50) Maundy money was distributed in the cathedral by Elizabeth II in 1988. (fn. 51)
Ditch, wall, and gates.
The Close is protected on the south by Minster Pool and on the other three sides by a deep man-made ditch. According to a 14th-century Lichfield chronicler Bishop Clinton, 1129–48, fortified the castle (castrum) of Lichfield. (fn. 52) The work may have included the construction of a wall and gates, strengthening the Close. The Close was described as a castellum c. 1200, and by the 14th century the mill in Dam Street on the south side of the Close was known as Castle mill. (fn. 53) Two gates were recorded in the early 1290s. (fn. 54) One was presumably at the south-east corner guarding the approach from the town over Minster Pool dam. The other was evidently at the west end: a house was mentioned in the later 13th century on the north side of a gate towards Gaia. (fn. 55)
In 1299 Bishop Langton was licensed to wall the Close in stone and crenellate it. (fn. 56) He also rebuilt the gates, which may have already been of stone. To meet the cost he was granted murage in Lichfield for seven years. (fn. 57) The work was unfinished at his death in 1321. In 1322, during the crisis involving Thomas, earl of Lancaster, the chapter under royal pressure ordered the immediate clearance of the ditch and the completion of the west tower of the south-east gate. (fn. 58)
The fortification comprised corner towers and interval towers along the wall. An octagonal tower at the north-east corner was incorporated in Langton's palace; its base survived in the late 1980s. At the south-east corner there was a parapet along the top of the wall and a projecting turret, which survive as part of the later St. Mary's House. The south-west tower was recorded in 1312–13 and was shown on Speed's 1610 map of Lichfield; it had been demolished by 1661. (fn. 59) The north-west tower had a statue of Bishop Walter, presumably Walter Langton, in the 1390s; (fn. 60) the tower was evidently another Civil War casualty. Three interval towers were placed on the east wall, two of them incorporated in Langton's palace and the third on the site of the later Selwyn House. (fn. 61) The Dean's Tower, so called in 1315, apparently stood on the west wall; it had been demolished by 1661. (fn. 62)
The gate built by Langton at the south-east corner of the Close had two towers. The eastern one, whose base was excavated in the late 1980s, was a half-octagon with 12-ft. sides. The western tower was presumably of similar dimension. The gate had a portcullis in 1376. (fn. 63) There was a drawbridge, still in existence in the earlier 18th century, which crossed the outflow of water from Minster Pool, and also a wicket for pedestrians. (fn. 64) The gate was removed in the mid 18th century in order to improve access for coaches into the Close. (fn. 65) A northward extension of the eastern tower was used as a porter's lodge in the early 17th century. After being damaged in the Civil War, it was rebuilt and in 1666 was assessed for tax on four hearths. (fn. 66) By 1734 the porter or verger lived in a house at the west gate, and the former lodge was demolished between 1812 and 1836. (fn. 67)
The west gate was completed by the chapter in the time of Bishop Northburgh, 1322–58. (fn. 68) It was in the form of a tall block with side windows. (fn. 69) It was decorated with coats of arms, and there was a statue of the Virgin Mary by 1530. (fn. 70) The gate was demolished in 1800 to make room for Newton's College. (fn. 71) Traces of its stonework survive on the north side of the road from Beacon Street. A house, evidently at the north-west corner of the gate, was let in 1661 to James Barrow, a tailor. He converted a dungeon underneath the house into a cellar for his own use and was ordered by the chapter to dig another dungeon of the same size with a hole to provide light. (fn. 72) In 1734 the house was occupied by the verger; it was rebuilt in 1835 and survives as no. 1 the Close. (fn. 73)
There is no evidence that the Close ditch ever contained water. It was dry in the 1590s, and evidently in the mid 1550s. (fn. 74) By the mid 17th century it was called the Dimple or Dimble, a name meaning a deep hollow filled with trees or bushes. (fn. 75)
In the late 13th century the bishop's house was in the north-east corner of the Close. (fn. 76) In 1310–11 the 'old hall', presumably part of his house, stood west of a new house or palace being built for Bishop Langton. (fn. 77) Langton's palace stretched along the east wall of the Close and was enclosed by its own wall. Nothing remains above ground, but its layout can be reconstructed from building accounts of 1304–14 (fn. 78) and a plan of 1685. (fn. 79)
Work on the palace started shortly before 1304 and was probably finished in 1314 when Langton was at Lichfield. (fn. 80) Walter the carpenter (fn. 81) and Hugh de la Dale, a mason, (fn. 82) were responsible for a palace whose great hall, 100 ft. by 56 ft., was the fifth or sixth largest in England at the time. (fn. 83) Resting on a stone vault and entered at first floor level, the hall was probably aisled, with columns supporting an elaborately carved wooden roof, admired in 1634 for its gilt carvings. (fn. 84) Paintings of the coronation, marriages, wars, and funeral of Edward I decorated the walls; they were still visible in the 1590s. (fn. 85) There were probably windows in the north and south gable ends and evidently along the west side which overlooked a garden. The bishop's private quarters lay north of the hall. To the south what was called the Lady's Chamber in 1685 was possibly a reception room. Its name may have derived from decoration with emblems of the Virgin, to whom Langton's devotion is suggested by his inauguration of work on the cathedral's Lady Chapel. Although the chamber occupied the normal position of the buttery and pantry, it is unlikely to have been used for that purpose because access from the free-standing kitchen south of the hall was by a passage under the chamber and up a stair into the hall. The passage led at ground level past a chapel, whose east end was a tower protruding from the Close wall. The chapel may have had two storeys: a lower one with access from the passage for the use of servants, and an upper one with access from the Lady's Chamber for the bishop's use. The kitchen opened into a service courtyard in which there was a stable-block. Other outbuildings there included a bakehouse, a granary, a hay barn, a salthouse, a 'dressours' (where meat was dressed), a dovecot, and a pinfold. At the south end of the courtyard was a gateway which faced the main, south-east entrance of the Close. The palace grounds were entered through a gateway in the south-west corner of an inner courtyard. Chambers over the gateway were apparently approached by an external staircase and included an oriel window. The gateway was part of a long range of chambers for members of the bishop's household. On the north side of the courtyard was a private garden evidently created for Langton by Walter the gardener.
There was a warden of the palace in 1306–7 when his daily wage was 1½d., reduced to 1d. by the mid 15th century. (fn. 86) In 1461 Bishop Hales engaged William the plumber to maintain and repair the lead on the palace roof. He was given a plot of land against the outer wall of the palace, on which he was to build a house. William was still paid his fee in 1476. (fn. 87) In 1479 the bishop employed the palace warden, John Paxson, to maintain the lead; Paxson was also the cathedral sacrist. (fn. 88) The warden in the mid 1520s was William Blythe, presumably a relative of Bishop Blythe. (fn. 89)
In 1638 Bishop Wright complained that the palace was unsuitable as a residence because parts were occupied by 'maltsters and others'. (fn. 90) It was severely damaged during the Civil War. A report in 1671 noted that all the timber work of the hall and of the chambers at its north end had been destroyed and that only the stone vault remained; the long range of chambers in the inner courtyard also lacked its roof. What remained of the fabric had been used as a quarry when Bishop Hacket, 1661–70, renovated a house on the south side of the Close as his residence. (fn. 91) The only fragment of the medieval palace which survives above ground is the base of a column found in the early 20th century and set up in the garden. (fn. 92)
By 1672 Bishop Wood was suing Hacket's son and executor, Sir Andrew Hacket, for compensation for Hacket's additional damage to the palace, (fn. 93) and in 1684 Wood was ordered to pay £2,600 and Hacket £1,400 towards the cost of rebuilding. Wood was suspended from office in the same year, and the responsibility for carrying out the work fell to Archbishop Sancroft, who delegated the task to Dean Addison. The site was cleared and a new palace built on an east-west alignment across the inner courtyard. Work began in May 1686 and was completed by October 1687. The architect was Edward Pierce (or Pearce). Of brick with stone dressings, the palace comprised on the ground floor a central hall and parlour with a drawing room on the east and a chapel on the west. A bakehouse, brewhouse, and pigsty were built in the north-west corner of the grounds, the rest of which was laid out as gardens and a cherry orchard. After his reinstatement Bishop Wood refused to live there, preferring Eccleshall Castle. His succes sors followed suit, and the palace was let to tenants: Lord Stanhope, later earl of Chesterfield, by 1706; (fn. 94) Rebecca, widow of Sir Wolstan Dixie, in 1727; (fn. 95) Gilbert Walmisley (d. 1751), the bishop's registrar; (fn. 96) Canon Thomas Seward (d. 1790) and his daughter Anna (d. 1809); (fn. 97) Sir Charles Oakeley (d. 1826), former governor of Madras, and then his widow Helena (d. 1838); (fn. 98) and the Revd. John Hinckley (d. 1867), vicar of Sheriffhales and of Woodcote (Salop.). (fn. 99) The palace became the bishop's residence when Bishop Selwyn moved in, evidently in the late 1860s. He added a chapel at the north-west corner in 1868 and front wings in 1869. (fn. 100) Apart from the years 1922 to 1931 when Bishop Kempthorne exchanged accommodation with theological college students from Selwyn House, the palace remained the bishop's home until 1953. That year Bishop Reeve moved into Bishop's House on the south side of the Close, and the palace was vested in the dean and chapter. Since 1954 it has been occupied by the Cathedral school. (fn. 101)
The dean's house occupies its ancient site west of the bishop's palace. The hall of the medieval house apparently projected east from a north—south range 148 ft. long. (fn. 102) The house was badly damaged during the Civil War and was assessed for tax on only two hearths in 1666. (fn. 103) Dean Wood, 1663–71, dismantled what remained of the hall with the intention of re building it, and the house was sufficiently habitable in 1687 to accommodate James II. (fn. 104) In the early 18th century Dean Binckes built a new deanery. The southern part of the long range was taken down, because it was ruinous and obscured the view from the new palace. A front was built at a right-angle to the remaining portion of the range with a central doorway flanked by three windows on either side. (fn. 105) The building was completed in 1707. (fn. 106) The doorway was moved to its present position on the east side of the house in 1807–8, when internal remodelling also took place. (fn. 107) Additions and further alterations were made in 1876 and 1893. (fn. 108) The northern part of the medieval range, which had been converted into outbuildings, was demolished in 1967. (fn. 109)
The houses of the vicars choral.
In 1315 Bishop Langton gave the vicars choral land at the west end of the Close previously held by a canon; the grant excluded a dovecot and a barn. (fn. 110) In the 16th century it was believed that Langton had given the vicars the site of two canonical houses. (fn. 111) Possibly he later gave them the property reserved in 1315: Darwin House on the west side of the vicars' lower courtyard stands partly on land known in the 18th century as the Dovehouse. (fn. 112) The vicars built their houses college-style around two courtyards with a common hall presumably at the west end of the central range. The upper courtyard was known as Vicars' Close in the late 1980s and the houses there have their own sequence of numbers. (fn. 113) The houses in the lower courtyard, which were remodelled in the 18th century to face the cathedral and the road from Beacon Street, are numbered as part of the sequence in the Close.
The first vicars to occupy the site apparently built their own chambers or houses, although it was subsequently the dean and chapter who assigned them to new vicars and authorized exchanges. (fn. 114) The common hall, mentioned in 1321, had a solar at its north end in 1334. (fn. 115) A common kitchen was recorded in 1329. (fn. 116) The vicars, however, continued as before to dine daily with the resident canons. In 1390 their dining rights were withdrawn and they had to provide themselves with a dining hall, the earlier common hall presumably being too small. (fn. 117) It was probably to meet the need that the vicars in 1399–1400 were granted, presumably by Bishop Burghill, the 'new house' which Richard II had had built in the palace grounds in 1398. (fn. 118) Material from it was probably used to enlarge the common hall. The hall was rebuilt and the houses repaired at the charge of Thomas Chesterfield, a canon of Lichfield 1425–52. (fn. 119)
In 1474 Dean Heywood rebuilt the south side of the lower courtyard. The new work included a two-storeyed block comprising a chamber called le drawth for infirm vicars, a chapel where the vicars could study and pray and where infirm vicars could hear mass, a muniment room for documents and treasures, and other small buildings (domicule). The walls were plastered and the windows glazed. The block had its own entrance gate on the road from Beacon Street. (fn. 120) The gable end of a chamber over a latrine, on the north side of the west gate of the Close, survived in the early 19th century. (fn. 121)
The Civil War appears to have left the vicars' houses relatively undamaged. Of the 20 houses listed in 1649, only two in the lower courtyard near the Close gate together with the latrine were described as completely ruined; the common hall was also badly damaged. (fn. 122)
In the early 18th century most of the houses were considered to be in good repair. Half of the 20 recorded in 1706 were occupied by tenants, (fn. 123) and wealthy tenants may have been responsible in the early 18th century for remodelling in brick the houses in the lower courtyard. By 1732 houses along the southern range there had been remodelled to front outwards and not into the courtyard, (fn. 124) and two houses at the west end of that range (nos. 2 and 3 the Close, formerly one house, and no. 4) were heightened and provided with fronts of five bays. The eastern range of the same courtyard was similarly remodelled in the 18th century. The vicars took down their common hall in 1756 and built a new one at the west end of the central range, presumably the site of the one it replaced. The new hall, 46 ft. by 25 ft. and 30 ft. high, was at first-floor level, approached by an oak staircase from the east, and had an oriel window facing Beacon Street. (fn. 125) At the east end was a new muniment room. (fn. 126) The completion of the hall in 1757 was marked by a concert of music and dancing, and the hall's use for public assemblies continued until the late 18th century. (fn. 127) By 1800 it had been divided, the west end being converted into flats. (fn. 128) Part of the ceiling decoration survives, but the staircase was removed c. 1979 when no. 4 Vicars' Close was remodelled.
In 1758 Erasmus Darwin, the physician, converted a timber-framed house on the west side of the lower courtyard into a large brick house with a front facing Beacon Street. (fn. 129) The house, later known as Darwin House, has a central doorway and venetian windows and was originally approached from Beacon Street by a bridge across the ditch. (fn. 130) The bridge was later replaced by a double flight of stone steps. Houses on the west side of the upper courtyard were remodelled in 1764 as a three-bayed house faced with brick. (fn. 131)
In 1988 the house at the south-east corner of the lower courtyard (no. 7 the Close) was converted into offices, and in the same year the ground floor of no. 9 was opened as a bookshop and coffee shop.
Later rebuilding and the frequent subdivision and amalgamation of houses have obscured the original structures. The most complete row of medieval building is along the north side of the upper courtyard, where the timber-framed houses are all of one bay; they are jettied to the south and have a tall chimney-stack against their north wall. The east side of the courtyard and the eastern half of the central range are also timber-framed, and three timber-framed houses survive at the east end of the south range of the lower courtyard.
There was a house in the north-west corner of the Close in the early 14th century. (fn. 132) A house on the site of no. 12 was damaged during the Civil War, but it was still inhabited in 1666 when assessed for tax on three hearths. (fn. 133) It was assigned to the second residentiary in 1797. The central range and cross wing of the present house may be 17th-century in date and the brickwork of the lower floors is 18th-century. The house was extensively remodelled in the early 19th century by the Lichfield architect Joseph Potter the elder. (fn. 134) In 1865 a third storey was added and most of the windows were altered. (fn. 135) In 1942 the house, which had been occupied by the chancellor, was opened as a preparatory school, known as St. Chad's Cathedral school and later as Lichfield Cathedral school. (fn. 136) The school still used the house in 1989.
A house on the site of nos. 13 and 14 was assigned in 1527 by Bishop Blythe as a residence for the cathedral choristers and their master. A gatehouse was built in front of the house in 1531 by Dean Denton, whose arms and rebus were engraved over the archway. (fn. 137) By the 1580s the choristers were no longer living in common, and the house was let. (fn. 138) In the 1620s the gatehouse was fitted up as a song school by Michael East, the master of the choristers, who lived in an adjoining building, probably the gatehouse of the neighbouring canonical house. (fn. 139) The common hall of the choristers' house ran east-west, with a parlour in the west crosswing and service rooms and entry in the east; part of the fabric survived in the late 1980s in the upper storey of no. 13.
By the 17th century the east wing had been enlarged as a kitchen range, and in 1666 the house was assessed for tax on 10 hearths. (fn. 140) It may have been divided in the earlier 18th century, when the western part (the later no. 13), comprising the former common hall and parlour, was given a brick front with canted bays and a central staircase. (fn. 141) In 1772 the lessee of both parts, John Daniel, was permitted to demolish the gatehouse, (fn. 142) and he probably extended south the eastern part (the later no. 14). A staircase and entrance hall were installed in the former service area in the earlier 19th century. The internal divisions of both parts of the house were altered during the 19th century. (fn. 143) In 1924 a library to house the collection of Dean Savage was opened in no. 14. (fn. 144) It was moved to the back of the house in 1975 when the dean and chapter's office was established in the front. (fn. 145) In the late 1980s no. 13 was occupied by the chancellor.
In 1367 there was a house on the plot where no. 15 was later built. (fn. 146) In the mid 17th century its gatehouse adjoined that of the choristers' house. (fn. 147) The house was damaged during the Civil War and may have been demolished soon afterwards: the central range of no. 15 and a short east wing are 17th-century and perhaps date from the Restoration. It was assigned to the fourth residentiary in 1797. Piecemeal extensions to the north and west were made in the late 18th century, and in the early 19th century a new staircase and west and south-west wings, each of one room, were added. (fn. 148) A kiosk in the south-west corner of the garden, used from the mid 1980s for the sale of refreshments, was built in 1803 as a water conduit for the Close. (fn. 149)
Selwyn House, in the ditch on the east side of the Close, was built in 1780 for Canon James Falconer. (fn. 150) It appears to incorporate a brick building, possibly of the earlier 18th century. It principal elevation is to the Close, with two lower floors facing the ditch. It was enlarged in the early 19th century and was given an iron balcony on the north. In 1908 it became a hostel for students of Lichfield Theological College and was named Selwyn Hostel in memory of a previous resident, Harriet Selwyn (d. 1907), the widow of Bishop Selwyn. In 1922 the students moved into the palace, and the house was the bishop's residence until 1931, when the students moved back. (fn. 151) After the closure of the college in 1972, Selwyn House was divided into flats.
St. Mary's House incorporates an early 14th-century house built into the south-east corner of the Close wall, perhaps by Bishop Langton. The house was originally either L-shaped or built round a courtyard, with a first floor hall reached on the west side by an external staircase. A further three storeys were reached by an internal staircase inside a defensive turret projecting from the south-east corner; the top storey gave access to the parapet of the Close wall. There is a 15th-century window on the south side of the house. (fn. 152) In 1626 the house, formerly occupied by the prebendary of Freeford, was known as 'the old palace'. (fn. 153) As it stood outside the grounds of the medieval palace, the reason for the name is uncertain. It was remodelled internally in 1710 by its occupant, Canon Walter Horton, (fn. 154) and again in 1804–5, (fn. 155) following its appropriation to the third residentiaryship in 1797. Under the Cathedrals Act of 1840 that residentiaryship was abolished, but the house remained occupied by the holder until his death in 1845. It became the vicarage for St. Mary's, Lichfield, apparently in 1851 and so remained until 1965 when it was converted into diocesan offices. (fn. 156)
No. 19 stands on the site of a brick house built in the early 16th century by George Strangeways, archdeacon of Coventry. (fn. 157) In 1662 that house was chosen as a residence by Bishop Hacket, who spent some £800 restoring and adding to it. When the work was completed in 1667 the house contained a dining room and a gallery and 34 or 35 other rooms; there was a stable for 16 horses in the south-east corner of the garden. (fn. 158) Hacket apparently tried to secure the house as the bishop's palace but after his death in 1670 it once more became a canonical house. (fn. 159) In the later 18th century it was occupied by Charles Howard (d. 1771), a proctor in the consistory court, who improved the garden behind the house with a grotto of shells and fossils. (fn. 160) In 1797 the house was assigned to the diocesan registrar. It then comprised a central range with wings at either end; at the back the ground floor, which extended beyond the Close bank, was supported by arches. (fn. 161) It was demolished in 1799, and William Mott, the deputy diocesan registrar, built a new house. (fn. 162) It continued to be occupied by the registrar or his deputy until 1987, when on the retirement of Mr. M. B. S. Exham as registrar it passed to Lichfield Diocesan Board of Finance which sold it that year to the dean and chapter. (fn. 163)
Mott fitted out Hacket's stable as a muniment room. (fn. 164) A new stable was added on the north side of the room, and part of it was converted into the chapter clerk's office in 1925. (fn. 165) The office was moved in 1975 to no. 14 the Close. Most of the diocesan records were deposited in the Lichfield Joint Record Office in 1968 and the remainder in 1984. The whole building was converted as the Lichfield Cathedral Visitors' Study Centre, the first part in 1986 and the second in 1989. (fn. 166)
The site of no. 20 was also acquired by Bishop Hacket. In 1666 he built a stone house there, possibly as a banqueting hall. (fn. 167) An oak panel dated 1669, bearing his arms and those of the diocese, was placed over the fireplace in the house; it was moved, probably in the early 19th century, to the entrance hall of the palace, where it remains. (fn. 168) In 1692 the house was used as the diocesan registrar's office and muniment room. (fn. 169) Having moved the registry to no. 19, William Mott bought the house in 1803. He let it to Richard Wright, who used it until 1806 to display items from the museum of his grandfather, Richard Greene. (fn. 170) The house was demolished in 1819. (fn. 171) It was rebuilt in 1833 by Mott's son John, also deputy diocesan registrar. (fn. 172) In 1871 the house was acquired for the principal of Lichfield Theological College. (fn. 173) The college was closed in 1972, (fn. 174) and in the late 1980s the house was occupied by the cathedral custos.
There was a canonical house west of the site of no. 20 in the early 15th century. (fn. 175) In 1798 it was let to William Mott, who bought it in 1803. (fn. 176) His son John probably rebuilt it when he built no. 20 in 1833, and in 1872 it too was acquired by the theological college. (fn. 177) After the college's closure the house was let to the trustees of St. John's hospital, who demolished it and in 1981 built an almshouse, called St. John's within the Close, to the design of W. Hobbiss & Partners of Birmingham. (fn. 178)
Land further west was assigned in 1411 by Bishop Burghill as the site for a residence, later known as New College, for the 13 cathedral chantry priests. (fn. 179) The building, constructed in 1414 and improved in 1468, comprised a range of chambers round a central courtyard. The hall stood at the south-east corner with a kitchen and a buttery at its west end; there was a chapel in the west range. After the dissolution of the chantries in 1548, the college was sold to London speculators, and by 1564 it was owned by the archdeacon of Stafford, Richard Walker (d. 1567). Walker was also master of Lichfield grammar school, and it was presumably as a result of his endowment of the school that the college was acquired by Lichfield corporation. (fn. 180) An extension at the south end of the west range was mentioned in a lease of c. 1590 to Edward Noble and his wife Isabel. In 1666 the property was assessed for tax on 16 hearths. (fn. 181) It was later divided into separate houses: there were three in 1708 and four in 1755. (fn. 182) One was demolished in 1817, and the others were let by the corporation in 1819 to William Mott for 10,000 years. (fn. 183) The site was acquired by Lichfield Theological College in 1872, and a library and student rooms were built on it. A chapel was added in 1885. (fn. 184) In 1980 the chapel was converted into an educational and social centre, known as the Refectory. (fn. 185)
There was a house on the site of Bishop's House in 1411, (fn. 186) and two lengths of ashlar wall at basement level may survive from it. By the late 18th century the house had a gabled range facing the Close and a rear wing. It was remodelled internally in 1796 by the lessee, J. F. Mucklestone, the subchanter; he also built a stable and a coach house to the east. (fn. 187) The house was assigned to the sixth residentiary in 1797. Under the Cathedrals Act of 1840 the house and stable were assigned to the chapter clerk, but the coach house was assigned to the occupier of no. 24, the fifth residentiary, whose own coach house had been demolished in 1800. (fn. 188) In the later 19th century a large block was added south-east of the house and both main elevations were rebuilt. The house became the bishop's residence in 1953.
The south and west walls of no. 23 contain the remains of a courtyard house built in red brick by Henry Edial, prebendary of Gaia Minor 1480–1520. (fn. 189) The brickwork was decorated with dark headers representing a cross and St. Peter's keys on the west chimney stack and St. Laurence's gridiron on the south wall. (fn. 190) The house, which was assigned to the first residentiary in 1797, was extensively remodelled c. 1812; (fn. 191) the courtyard was roofed over to form a spacious hall with a staircase in Tudor Gothic style. The staircase was renewed c. 1900. Part of the house was apparently occupied in 1891 as St. Werburga's Home, established that year as a layworkers' training and retreat house run by deaconesses; the first residentiary canon was the warden. (fn. 192) In the late 1980s the house was occupied by the precentor.
The predecessor of no. 24 was in ruins in 1461 when it was assigned to Thomas Milley, preben dary of Hansacre and later archdeacon of Coventry. He rebuilt it in red brick over stone vaults which abutted the Close bank; the north-west corner of the house appears to incorporate the base of a stone tower which was presumably part of a wall built on the bank. The house rises to three storeys on the south side; some of its exterior brickwork and stone dressings survive. (fn. 193) It was assessed for tax on 10 hearths in 1666, when it was occupied by Sir Walter Littleton, the diocesan chancellor. (fn. 194) It had been damaged during the Civil War, and Littleton restored it at a cost of over £500. (fn. 195) Alterations in the 18th century included the addition of a staircase against the south-west chimney stack and a Gothick triple window on the north side. The house was assigned to the fifth residentiary in 1797. It was remodelled c. 1814 when part of the south wall was rebuilt and most of the windows altered. (fn. 196) In the late 1980s the house was occupied by the treasurer, who was also archdeacon of Lichfield.
A house which adjoined no. 24 on the north-west was demolished in 1800, along with no. 24's coach house, the west gate of the Close, and part of a house in the ditch, to make room for Newton's College. (fn. 197) The college was established by Andrew Newton as an almshouse for the widows and unmarried daughters of clergy, primarily of those who had served in Lichfield cathedral. Newton (d. 1806), the son of a Lichfield brandy and cider merchant, gave it an endowment of £20,000. (fn. 198) The college building comprises a range of 16 dwellings with a central doorway, designed by Joseph Potter the elder and built in brick with stone facings on the south side of the road from Beacon Street. The first almswomen moved in probably towards the end of 1803. (fn. 199) A house, also designed by Potter, was built soon afterwards at the south-west corner of the range in Beacon Street and provided a further four dwellings. (fn. 200) Two dwellings at the west end of the range were demolished in 1929, and a garden was laid out over the site. At the same time the other dwellings in the range were adapted for nine residents and the Beacon Street house was converted into three flats. (fn. 201) Because of a lack of eligible almswomen, the college trustees transferred the building to the dean and chapter in 1988. (fn. 202)
There was formerly a house in the south-west angle of the Close wall, probably incorporating a defensive turret like that at St. Mary's House. In 1311 a house there was assigned to Geoffrey de Blaston, archdeacon of Derby, whose 'tower' near Minster Pool was recorded in 1312. The house then had a hall with a solar and a cellar at one end and a separate kitchen and bakehouse; work on another solar and cellar at the other end had recently been started by Bishop Langton. As the previous occupant had been the bishop's nephew, Walter of Clipston, Langton was probably responsible for building all of the house. (fn. 203) Both the house and the tower were destroyed during the Civil War. (fn. 204)
Moat House in the south-west part of the Close ditch was built in the earlier 18th century by Thomas Ames. In the early 19th century it was occupied by Henry Chinn, a lawyer. (fn. 205) It is adjoined on the south by Langton House, built probably in the mid 18th century. Dimble House in the north-west corner of the ditch was built probably in the late 18th century. (fn. 206)