Redcourt House, Lichfield

Redcourt House was an elegant 18th century dwelling that occupied a commanding position at the top of Tamworth Street for almost 200 years. For most of that time it was home to those who were considered to be "gentry" by virtue of their apparent wealth or on account of their social connections. At the Society's meeting on 14th January Maureen Piper wove the Redcourt story into a detailed tapestry in terms of the occupants who had made this house their home.

The house was built in the 1760s by Dr Johnson's step-daughter, Lucy Porter, with a legacy of 10,000 following the death of her brother, on the site of a house previously occupied by the Town Clerk. It was one of the first houses in Lichfield to have its own water tap.

Maureen described a colourful history through generations of familiar names from national as well as local history; including General William Dyott - ADC to George III - and Sir Francis Sacheverall Darwin - son of Erasmus Darwin, as well as some lesser known characters who had owned or lived in Redcourt House. Large families, impecunious drinkers, artistic clergymen, uncertain tempers, admirable generosity, death from typhoid (in the Bishop's Palace no less) and the seasonal social round of Balls and Bow Meetings will have given the clearly defined stratas of Lichfield society a rich currency of conversation and gossip.

For ten years Maureen Piper's research into history has been displayed through illustration, facsimile of source material and transcribed documents at her Annual History Exhibitions in Longdon Village Hall. On this occasion a similar wealth of information was on display, including a copy of the notice of the 1929 Demolition Sale and lists of artefacts which, from such a house, would have been of high quality. Where are they now?

There was a most fitting conclusion to this well attended meeting when our Chairman, Alan Thompson, presented the speaker with a copy of the recently issued Demolition Order for "Redcourt House", a property built in a style that many would consider to be unworthy of its predecessor, for a most worthy purpose - a new Health Centre.

Ivor Mitchell
January 1993