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Hidden Garden Haunted by a Ghostly Monk!

Monks Walk: The carved wooden sign at the entrance.

Been on holiday, and scheduled posts to appear while I was away (including this one), but nothing happened! Plus all my portrait photos, which are saved as such, are appearing here as landscape… the same thing has been happening on Facebook for weeks. I have no idea what I am doing wrong. I am doing everything just as I always have. Anyway, since there seems to be no way of correcting them, you have some sideways pictures in today’s  Saturday Snapshot. And if anyone can tell me what I am doing wrong, and how to put it right, I’d love to know. Meanwhile I can only apologise. I find it very annoying, and very confusing, and it must be worse for anyone reading this post. I am sorry!

One of the flower-edged walkways, with part of an old wall
running alongside.

Anyway, here goes. I’ve been meaning to explore the Monks Walk Garden in Lichfield for ages, but I never seem to have time on the days I’m in the Oxfam bookshop. However, the other week I arranged to meet friends for lunch, so I went over a little earlier to give myself time to take a look, and to have a play with the exposure and aperture on my posh Nikon D3100 which I’m still getting used to. 

The little dovecote looks even better the right way up.
It was a good place to experiment, because there were spots in bright sunshine, and dappled shade, and much darker areas with very little light indeed. Some of the photos were rubbish, because I didn’t get the settings right, but at least I now know what not to do! Others were quite nice, and I was pretty pleased with myself, so I thought I’d use them for a Saturday Snapshot, even though self praise is no recommendation!
Backlit alliums. There were masses of these, all grouped
together, looking really stunning, but I wanted to try a close-up.

The garden is only small – a narrow strip hidden away alongside a car park, between the city’s library and the college, and it’s kind of hidden away, so I suspect it goes unnoticed by visitors and residents alike. But it’s absolutely beautiful, with masses of old-fashioned, cottage garden type plants. There’s a little path which runs down one side, across the bottom end, and back up the other side to the entrance and exit. And there’s a dovecote, and a bench with the back carved from two huge slabs of wood.

I love this carved wooden back of a bench.


I assume it’s called Monks Walk because this is where the old Friary stood (until Henry VIII got rid of so many of England’s religious institutions), and it’s only a stone’s throw from the modern ‘Friary Garden’, which I wrote about herethis time last year. 

Foxgloves, or Digitalis: Perhaps the old Friars who once lived
on this site grew these lovely flowers to treat heart conditions.

When you think about it the monks, or friars as I should really call them, would certainly have had some kind of garden where they could walk and reflect, and where they grew herbs and other plants with medicinal properties, and kept bees. Probably I’ve read too much Cadfael, but I like to think the Walk might be on part of an older plot, where a Medieval Franciscan (for this was a Franciscan house) toiled on his land in all weathers and spent hours brewing up his lotions and potions to help the sick and elderly. 

The garden has a really old-fashioned feel to it, and is
very peaceful.

I doubt the image in my mind is accurate, but it might be – after all, no-one seems to know the age of Monks Walk. Apparently it is shown on a late 19th Century map, and in the following century it was part of the Friary School, which includes the old Bishop’s Lodging (the buildings now house the library). And there are legends of a ghostly lost monk haunting the garden and vanishing through the ruined arch by the college, on the other side of the car park. But be warned, you can’t move in Lichfield without tripping over a ghost: every building in every street seems to boast a spectral visitor, and it’s hard to sift fact from fiction!

Volunteers look after Monks Walk, and in the past local schoolchildren have also helped, but I don’t know if they still do. Actually, I don’t know much about the garden at all and nor, I suspect, does anyone else, because there is very little information available anywhere. Even Kate at Lichfield Lore, who is a mine of information about the city and its history, seems to have drawn a blank on this one, although she has written a couple of short pieces about it. According to her, the walls around it are interesting. They are, she says, a mix of brick and stone, with a bricked up entrance, but I didn’t pay them as much attention as I should have done, and consequently missed the bricked up entrance. 

If you look at the photo very carefully (which is jolly
difficult when it is the wrong way), you can see where a gate or
door in the wall has been bricked up.
I also missed the grave, of ‘Richard the Merchant’, set into the back wall of the Friary, which is mentioned in one of the comments on her post. Apparently, it is very hard to read, and I am not sure whether it refers to one of the walls enclosing the garden, or the main Friary building, or other nearby walls, so it’s difficult to know where to look!

Not sure what this plant is – some kind of broom I think – but
it looked truly amazing with the light behind it, making the
pods translucent, so you can see the seeds inside, and all
the tiny hairs on the surface.

Kate gives a link to Staffordshire Gardens & Park Trusts, where it says Monks Walk could have been part of a larger garden on property owned by Sir Richard Cooper. His estate was on land that originally formed part of the historic Friary, and it was given to the City of Lichfield in 1920 ‘for the permanent use and benefit of the citizens’.  Plants grown there today were popular in the 17th and 18th Centuries, and are laid out in what was known as ‘mingle’ planting.

A feather caught on a leaf looked so delicate, and I like
the contrast between it’s feathery edges and the solid leaves.
This is another upright shot!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mummy.

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Author:

I'm a former journalist and sub-editor who loves needlework, reading and writing, and is still searching for the Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. Until I find the answer I'm volunteering at an Oxfam Book Shop and learning about Creative Sketchbooks!

24 thoughts on “Hidden Garden Haunted by a Ghostly Monk!

  1. Lovely blooms….I especially love the Foxgloves, as I just read a mystery story in which these flowers were used to poison a victim.

    Hard to imagine, huh?

    Thanks for sharing…and I don't know what caused the photos to be lopsided sometimes…I never schedule posts, as I don't trust the blog platform to do things in my absence…lol

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  2. Thank you! I was delighted with the way the foxglove came out, and those pods (whatever they may be). And it's so small you could walk across the width in a few strides (if there were no plants to step on!) But I think it is absolutely gorgeous.

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  3. Mine freezes up as well Deb! All the time! And I click on a picture to move it, or make it bigger, and it won't let go of the pic… and when I highlight text it gets stuck on the style or font even when I'm trying to do something else… Modern technology is wonderful, but it does seem to have a mind of its own!

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  4. What a beautiful garden, I'm glad you finally got to see it, and share it with us. I really like your closeup shots. As to the sideways shots, I used to have that problem at times, my old iPhoto used to not turn them correctly and I had to do it manually- are your photos the right way in your photo album? If they are I have no suggestions for that sadly. I've never worked out how to schedule posts, I should look at that one day.

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  5. Every walk and pathway has its history. This is another beautiful legacy your country preserve. Beautiful flowers. I'm sure lots of birds like to visit too. Did you see any? Wonder what kinds there are.

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  6. Arti, I heard lots of birds, but don't know what they were! But I saw blackbirds – it's been a good year for them I think, because on all my walks I've seen lots of them, and I'm getting to recognise their song, which pleases me. And there were starlings in Monks Walk (there seem to be far fewer of them around than usual this year), and pigeons, which are everywhere, and sparrows. I would assume the garden attracts all the common garden birds.

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  7. I've never been to Lichfield so it's fascinating to read your post and see this lovely little garden – even with the sideways pictures! And how intriguing not to know its origins, perhaps tracing it back on maps would help. I would love to have a walled garden, so private and secluded. You've also reminded me about the Cadfael books – I think I have one waiting to be read.

    About the photo problem, I had a similar one when I used Blogger – I couldn't get them to be the right size or to go where I wanted them, so I changed to WordPress, which I find much easier to use, but that was a few years ago and I thought Blogger had sorted out some of its issues – looks like it hasn't.

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  8. Margaret, generally I have found Blogger OK, so whether this is something they've changed, or something to do with the laptop I just don't know, but I've had the same problems with Facebook. I though perhaps it was the way I downloaded photos off the new camera – but I had difficulties with the pictures I took when we stayed with Lucy, and they were on the old camera, so it can't be that.

    I am sure you would like Lichfield. There is modern development, but they've preserved their heritage much better than Tamworth!

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  9. Lovely photos Chris & thanks for the mention. Here's my post about the tombstone in the library wall so you'll know where to have a look where you're next about…. http://lichfieldlore.co.uk/2011/07/21/the-tombstone-at-lichfield-library/ Recently I found myself on the other side of the fence at Monks Walk in the garden of St John's, where it continues. I heard that they have exciting plans which may involve an archaeology dig which would be fab & perhaps finally answer some questions! What was the link between St John's & the Friary I wonder?

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  10. Thank you Kate – I'll search next time I'm there. I always assumed St John's must be on a site which dates back to the days of the Friary, and that 'hospital' (or almshouses – that's what they are) must have been built on the spot where the friars once had some kind of hospital where they cared for the elderly and infirm.

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