Tours to give new light on Johnson’s home
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The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum is launching a new series of guided tours this month. Beginning on Saturday 2nd May at 2pm, the Museum will be offering tours of the beautiful Grade I listed building on the first Saturday of every month over the summer. Hundreds of visitors to the city enjoy guided tours of the house in organised groups every year, and the feedback has been so positive that the museum is now offering the visits to all. Anybody can just turn up to join the tours – though numbers on each tour are limited so you may book in advance if you wish to secure your place. The friendly and entertaining tours provide a great way to see the fascinating five storey house, built for Samuel’s parents Michael and Sarah in 1707, giving insight into Johnson’s life and some favourite objects in the collection. The character and family background of Lichfield’s great lexicographer will be brought to life as visitors climb the stairs in the company of talented tour guides Sue Bray and David Titley. Places on the tours cost £2.50. For more information or to book Contact Us
Celebrating 260 years of Johnson’s Dictionary
April 15th 1755 saw the publication of a book that would put Lichfield firmly on the literary map: Samuel Johnson’s ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’. Now 260 years on from its appearance, the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will be marking the anniversary this month with a History Workshop dedicated to the how, when and why of the great work. Jo Wilson and Sue Bray will be delving into the Dictionary in a relaxed and friendly discussion-based session on Saturday 25th April at 2pm. The session will cover quirky questions about the book such as: “Why was a pretty much unknown writer chosen for the task?”; “What Dictionaries came before it and why was it different?” as well as looking at how Johnson went about putting it together, the people that helped him with the task and some of the wild and wonderful words it contains. There will also be a behind-the-scenes look at some other dictionaries from the museum collection in the library.
Jo Wilson said: “Johnson’s ‘Dictionary’ is always a talking point for our visitors - the scale of the task was enormous, and it is remarkable that it took only nine years. Our workshop will give some insight into the great book, but also consider its legacy for language and how we record the world around us”. Whether you are a language lover or merely curious about Johnson’s work, this session is not to be missed. Places cost £2.50. For more information or to book Contact Us
Calling all Easter Explorers and Bookworms!
April is shaping up to be an ‘egg-citing’ month at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum with trails and competitions during the school holidays. Visitors can join Sam’s Easter Explorers trail and enter a special competition from Friday 4th to Sunday 12th of April. Young visitors are invited follow a trail and join activities throughout the house, and can also get creative and enter a competition to design an amazing Easter cake decorated with an array of spring-time themed treats to win a Fair Trade Easter Egg and goody bag. The Easter trail is available throughout the holiday, and a trail pack costs just £1. Standard entrance to the Museum and entry into the competition is free. There is no need to book – just drop in!
The Museum is also seeking new book lovers to join its lively reading and activity club ‘Bookworms United!’ on Saturday mornings at 10.30am. The next session will be during the holidays on 11th April, and then every fortnight until the summer. Young readers are currently enjoying Roald Dahl’s writings and there are plenty of exciting books to come. The club is perfect for developing reading skills and making friends in a small and friendly group, and sessions cost just £4 including books with discounts available for families, and are ‘pay as you go’. For more details or to book a place to try out the club Contact Us
Explore the leisure time of Lichfield’s past
Following the popularity of two History Workshops last year, the Samuel Johnson Birthplace will be delving into the archives again this spring. Many people know the story of Lichfield’s most famous son, but visitors to his family home on the Market Square often ask about how Lichfieldians used to live. Expanding on a session on daily life last November, on Saturday March 7th at 2.00pm, Sue Bray will be giving insight into the playtime of the city’s past in ‘Lichfield at Leisure’
Using some original documents and records, Sue will give a glimpse into these often forgotten histories of the city and how our spare time has changed, from gardening and theatre to special events and celebrations. There will also be a chance to visit ‘behind the scenes’ at the Museum and see some surprising items from the Birthplace archive spanning 18th to 20th century Lichfield. Museum curator Jo Wilson said “our workshop sessions last year were a great success and brought up more questions about how people lived in Georgian Lichfield. Sue’s knowledge and enthusiasm will bring the history of our fascinating city to life, making this an un-missable session”.
The workshop sessions continue with ‘Delving into the Dictionary’ on April 25th, celebrating 260 years since the publication of Johnson’s most famous work, and a session on Lichfield Charities in the autumn. Places cost £2.50 and numbers are limited, so please book in advance. For more information Contact Us
Half-term fun with Hodge the Cat!
Young visitors to the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum are invited to join a hands-on art and craft session this half-term holiday. Many families enjoy the Museum’s trail with Hodge the cat throughout the year, and this February there will be some new cats to find and a whole activity dedicated to Johnson’s favourite feline friend. ‘Colourful Cats’ gives visitors a chance to make their own fabulous cat costume and takes place from 11am – 1.30pm on Thursday 19th February.
The workshop is drop-in and costs £2 per participating child, with standard entrance to the Museum free of charge. Jo Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said: “The atmosphere in the house is fantastic over the school holidays, and our activity sessions are a popular choice for a great value morning visit”. In addition to the activity there are free of charge trails, hands-on displays and dressing up activities to enjoy every day from 11am – 3.30pm.
Christmas at the Birthplace Museum
Step in from the cold and step back in time at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum during the city’s Christmas Lights event. The historic house on the Market Square will be opening its doors on Sunday 23rd November from 3.30pm – 6pm, providing activities and festive refreshments to help the crowds warm up while waiting for Santa and the big switch-on. Following the great success of previous year’s events the Museum will again be holding a late night costumed opening including trails, activities and a great view of the City being illuminated from the Market Square. Festive refreshments will be available with all proceeds supporting the Museum and there’s also a chance to win a fantastic Christmas hamper. Entrance and activities are free to everyone, so just drop-in!
The festive season continues at the Museum with ‘The Johnson Family Christmas’ on Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th December, 11am – 3.30pm. Join a big Christmas party in beautifully decorated surroundings with activities including carols by the Lichfield Singers and an elegant dance display from Regency Assembly on Saturday, along with Christmas crafts, quiz trails, refreshments, games and amazing automated machines over the whole weekend. Entrance to the event is free of charge. Jo Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said: “the Birthplace building has a wonderful atmosphere over the festive season, and last year’s Christmas Light Night was our busiest ever. We are looking forward to welcoming the crowds back to start our season of events”
Art, History and Family Fun this Autumn
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum in the heart of the city centre has launched an exciting programme of events for the coming months, with hands-on art and history workshops to inspire and entertain as the evenings draw in.
Events begin with an Art Workshop Exhibition Day on Saturday 4th October, from 10.30 – 4.30pm. For beginners and the curious to experienced artists alike, there will be an opportunity to see artwork by workshop members, watch demonstrations led by artist Carole Collier, and have a try yourself, all free of charge. For those inspired by the exhibition day, regular Art Workshops take place on the third Tuesday of every month with the new session on October 21st at 6.30pm (£10 including all materials).
The arty theme continues throughout the month with the ‘Big Lichfield Draw’: an activity available every day inviting visitors to help the Museum to build up a big picture of our city. Young visitors can also enjoy a Halloween themed ‘Half Term Fun!’ session on Thursday 30th October (11am – 2pm, just £2 per place, no booking required) and make some monster bookends!
History lovers will enjoy the special workshop ‘A Day in the Life’ on Saturday November 8th at 2pm, which will provide a glimpse into the daily life of the Johnson family home and Georgian Lichfield by exploring original documents. Bookings are being taken now for the fascinating session, which costs only £2.50 per place.
Join us to celebrate Johnson's 305th Birthday
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum is celebrating the birthday of Lichfield’s most famous son with a free slice of cake for all visitors and activities throughout the day on Saturday 20th September.
The Museum on Breadmarket Street will be open from 10.30am – 4.30pm and admission, as always, is free of charge. A slice of Birthday cake supplied by local bakery Hindleys will be available for all visitors, while stocks last! All are invited to ensemble on the Market Square for 12 noon when the civic party and Johnson Society members will gather to watch the Mayor lay a wreath on the statue of Johnson, accompanied by traditional hymns. After the ceremony the wonderful Intimate Theatre will entertain with light-hearted drama ‘Everything you never knew about Dr Johnson’.
Johnson’s Birthday celebrations are part of Lichfield Heritage Weekend and this year’s theme is ‘Hidden Histories’. Visitors to the Museum can find out about the unknown past of the Birthplace building and discover fascinating facts about Johnson and his home. The library will be open for a behind-the-scenes peek at some of the collection that isn’t often displayed, including rare letters by Johnson and other Lichfield legends. Young visitors will find much to entertain too, with trails and craft activities available throughout the celebrations.
Jo Wilson at the Birthplace Museum said: ‘We always look forward to celebrating Johnson’s birthday and joining in with all of the historic sites in Lichfield to celebrate our Heritage. This year’s ‘Hidden Histories’ theme is particularly fascinating, we hope visitors of all ages will enjoy exploring the little know side of our Museum.’
Elsewhere in the city, the Old Prison Cells at Lichfield Guildhall will be open on Saturday from 10am – 4pm. Also at the Guildhall on Saturday between 1pm – 2.30pm in the Guild Room there will be an opportunity to ‘Meet the Macebearer’, view the historic city mace close-up and find out more about Lichfield’s civic customs.
The Johnson Society will also be marking Johnson’s Birthday with their traditional supper at Lichfield Guildhall in the evening, where current President Peter Martin will hand over his badge to President elect, Professor Jock Murray. Professor Murray visits from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, and is a specialist in 18th century medicine and Johnson’s medical history.
Lines of Beauty
A display of extraordinary artistic talent will be taking place at the Johnson Birthplace Museum from Saturday 21st June. ‘Lines of Beauty’ is an exhibition of Calligraphy by local artists, displayed around the inspiring settings of the historic house.
The display marks a very welcome return to the Birthplace Museum for the Lichfield Calligraphers, whose previous exhibitions ‘The Art of Words’ and ‘the Nature of Shakespeare’ were very popular. Jo Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said: “we are delighted to welcome the calligraphers back to the Birthplace. The skill and creativity demonstrated in their work is quite remarkable, and displaying them around the Birthplace building brings new and exciting perspectives into the Museum”. Visitors can discover over forty works displayed in interesting and surprising locations while exploring the Grade I listed building.
Calligrapher and leader of the group, Peter Halliday, said: “Calligraphy is alive and flourishing in Lichfield. The group has been working on a number of diverse projects, many including the use of gold leaf and other decorative and beautiful ways of illuminating the words”. The group meets weekly in Lichfield to enjoy the various aspects of calligraphy, lettering and illumination, and the display also includes contributions from Peter's other students who meet weekly in Barton under Needwood. The calligraphers represent a cross-section of styles and expertise; but they all share a love of letters, language and literature. The display continues until September.
Family Craft Workshop at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum
Summer is just around the corner and the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum is celebrating with a garden-themed craft workshop on Saturday June 7th. Families can create a miniature masterpiece together in this imaginative hands-on session led by artist Carole Collier.
Inspired by the Georgian’s love of grand landscaped gardens, visitors will create a model garden using everyday materials with stunning results. Carole will guide participants through papercraft and ‘quilling’ to make a range of wild and wonderful additions to your model garden. There will also be simple parts for younger members of the family to join in with too so the session will be suitable for all ages.
Jo Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said: “our creative workshops for children and adult art workshops are increasingly popular, and we are delighted to offer a new style of workshop for families to enjoy together. The Georgian garden is a wonderful subject and the Birthplace provides inspiring surroundings for creativity: we are looking forward to seeing the results”
Hilarious Historical Hats at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum
Thursday 29th May 10.30am – 1.30pm
Young visitors to the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum are invited to join a hands-on art and craft session this half term holiday and find out more about the outrageous fashions of the Georgian times. The Museum’s ‘Hilarious Hats’ activity will be recreating tricorns and fancy bonnets so that all visitors can step out modelling the height of Lichfield’s fashions – 300 years ago!
The workshop is drop-in and costs £2 per participating child. Jo Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said: “Our activity sessions have become a popular choice for a great value morning visit and we can’t wait to see the creations of our young milliners this May Half-term”. In addition to the activity there are free of charge trails, hands-on displays and dressing up activities to enjoy throughout the week, as well as a new look in the Museum Bookshop for all visitors to enjoy. Standard entrance to the Museum is free and it is open every day from 10.30am – 1.30pm. For more information call 01543 264 972, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk.
Easter Adventures and World Book Night this April
April is shaping up to be an ‘egg-citing’ month at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum. From an Easter trail to a bargain book sale and a celebration of the written word and free book giveaway for World Book Night, there is plenty in store for all this month.
For those looking for entertainment over the Easter holiday, young visitors can join ‘Sam’s Easter Adventure’ from April 12th – 27th. A trail pack and competitions will be available every day between 10.30am – 4.30pm, with free entry for all and just £1 to join the trail. For young booklovers, the popular fortnightly ‘Bookworms United!’ club for 7-11 year olds will be starting up again on April 19th, at just £4 per session including all books and activities. Then on Tuesday April 15th, resident artist Carole Collier will be leading her popular adult Art Workshop session from 6.30pm, just £10 to join including all materials and refreshments.
Booklovers will be delighted by a big Spring Sale in the bookshop, and on Wednesday April 23rd the Museum will be celebrating World Book Night with a free-entry late evening opening until 7.30pm. Enjoy and explore the written work with fun word games, listen to inspiring and entertaining readings and meet local authors for tips and inspiration, or just explore the Museum at night with a glass of wine. As part of World Book Night, the Museum will be giving away specially selected titles throughout the evening, so be sure to drop-in and grab your free copy to be part of this nationwide event.
New Hobbies for the New Year
The last of the Christmas chocolates have been eaten and it is time to start on those New Year’s resolutions by throwing yourself into a brand new hobby. From immersing yourself in a good novel or trying your hand in an art workshop, The Samuel Johnson Birthplace in Lichfield city centre can help you to rediscovery your creativity!
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to read more, and where better to find a page-turner than in the home of a literary giant? Held the first Wednesday of every month at 1pm, the Birthplace Book Club is free to join (donations are welcome) and offers its members the opportunity to enjoy a cup of tea while delving into anything from thrillers to the classics, following the selections from the Radio 4 Book Club programme. New members are always welcome to the small, friendly and informal group. February’s session will be discussing Donna Tarrt’s 'The Secret History', so please just come along or contact the Museum if you would like more information.
Or for something more hands-on, try painting and drawing in one of the Museum’s popular art workshops led by award-winning local artist, Carole Collier. Held on the third Tuesday of every month, the next session is on Tuesday 21st January. There are a maximum of ten people in each session, creating a friendly, intimate environment where those attending will receive individual attention and support to learn unusual techniques to quickly create striking paintings. Local workshop student Linda has been delighted with her achievements in the art sessions, saying, “This is the first time I ever painted anything that actually looked like the thing I was trying to paint!”
Carole Collier has received four awards from the Lichfield Society of Artists and regularly takes commissions and sells her work internationally online. She works in a range of media, from more traditional techniques to an individual batik-inspired style which has become her trademark.
Tickets for the Art Workshops cost £10, which includes all materials and refreshments. Contact Us to book or to find out more.