New Hobbies for the New Year!
.... and other recent press releases
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.
News from 2013
A Georgian Family Christmas at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace
We are sorry that this event has been cancelled
Saturday December 7th from 4.30pm
Step back in time and celebrate ‘A Georgian Family Christmas’ on Saturday 7th December, when the Samuel Johnson Birthplace is hosting a unique Christmas party in the beautiful historic surroundings of the famous Grade I listed building. Experience an evening of festive fun with activities for all the family. Enjoy carol singing from the ‘Lichfield Singers’, feed your imagination with storytelling sessions (for all ages!) and get creative with Christmas crafty angels and wreaths. Everyone will find something to delight, from a mulled wine and a mince pie to a Christmas Carnival of traditional games.
Tickets cost £5 per adult, including a drink and mince pie and the event is free for children. Contact Us to book or to find out more.
Ghastly Ghosts for Halloween Half Term
Thursday 31st October 11am – 2pm
Young visitors at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum can join in with spooky Halloween fun throughout the half term week and in a special hands-on craft session on Thursday 31st October. The ‘Ghastly Ghosts’ activity taking place from 11am – 2pm will give visitors a chance to create a spooky but fun toy for Halloween.
The workshop is drop-in and costs £2 per participating child. Jo Wilson from the Museum said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming young visitors this Half term. We’re inviting them to use their imaginations to create some spectacularly spooky ghosts”. In addition to the activity session a special Halloween hunt will be available free of charge throughout the week, as well as colouring and dressing up activities. Standard entrance to the Museum is free and it is open every day from 11am – 3.30pm. Contact Us For more information
Bookworms United! Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum’s children’s book and activity club is back
From Saturday 14 September, 10.30am
Following the success of the first season, Bookworms United returns to the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum. The book and activity club offers children aged seven to eleven years of age the chance to discover some more amazing fiction, and the many great characters and stories they encounter on the page will be brought to life through activities and games.
The first Bookworms United of the new season will be held on Saturday 14 September at 10.30am, and readers will begin the sessions with Cressida Cowell’s book, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. This funny, exciting and dramatic book tells the story of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as he tries to pass the Dragon Initiation Programme.
Jo Wilson at the Birthplace Museum said: “we are delighted to welcome young readers to the second season of Bookworms United. We want to encourage more children to enjoy books and to use their imaginations in our creative activities. We hope they have lots of fun following in the footsteps of a young Sam who discovered books here at the Museum in his father’s bookshop.”
Bookworms United will take place fortnightly and will cost £4 per child, including activities, refreshments and the books will be provided too. There are discounts available for family groups. Booking is essential - for more details or to book your place please call 01543 264 972, email email@example.com or pop into the Museum on the corner of the Market Square.
You are invited to Samuel Johnson’s 304th
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 21st 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! The historic house will also be looking its best with beautiful flower displays by local florist ‘Flower Design by Kate’. In addition 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.
Johnson’s birthday celebrations are part of Lichfield Heritage Weekend and this year’s theme is ’Tales Through Time.’ Visitors to the Museum can experience ‘Johnson’s Georgian Jungle,’ where they can hear animal tales inspired by the weird and wonderful creatures found in Johnson’s Dictionary. They can also follow an amazing animals trail through the house and use their imaginations to make unusual animal story puppets.
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 ‘Tales Through Time’ theme is particularly appropriate, we hope visitors of all ages will enjoy unleashing their literary imaginations at the museum.’
Elsewhere in the city, the Old Prison Cells at Lichfield Guildhall will be open on Saturday 10am – 4pm and Sunday 11am – 3pm. Also at the Guildhall on Saturday between 1pm – 2.30pm in the Guild Room, there’s an opportunity to ‘Meet the Macebearers’, 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 John Chapple will hand over his badge to President elect, author Peter Martin.
Earlier in the week at 6.30pm on Tuesday 17th September, the Birthplace will also be holding a special birthday version of their monthly Art Workshops to link in with sculptures of Johnson. The sessions, run by award winning local artist Carole Collier, are ideal for experienced artists or beginners alike and cost £10. To book into the small, friendly workshop please call or visit the Museum.
For more information please call 01543 264 972, visit the Museum website at www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Virtual Tour! You can now explore inside the Museum from your computer - please click on the image below to start your tour, and use the arrows to navigate your way around our five floors of displays.
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Lichfield Children’s Short Story Competition
This summer budding young writers aged between 7 & 12 years are invited to take part in Lichfield’s Short Story Competition. Simply title your story ‘An exciting day in Lichfield’ and get writing!
The competition is held in association with ‘Tales Through Time,’ – Lichfield Heritage Weekend 21 – 22 September.
The deadline for entries is Sunday 8th September. Click here for more details and information on how to enter the competition.
The competition will be judged by The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, with judges including writer David Titley and Intimate Theatre's Elle Knight.
School holiday fun with faces at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum has lots on offer to beat the school holiday boredom this summer with a variety of activities for young visitors. Every Thursday morning throughout August from 10.30 – 1.30pm the Museum will be hosting hands-on arts and craft sessions.
This year our craft activities will have a funny faces theme and children can let their imaginations run wild making Marvellous Masks, Hilarious Hats, and creating Spectacular Specs and Fantastic Flip-books.
Joanne Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said: “We’re hoping young visitors will get creative and make us laugh this summer. We always look forward to welcoming local children to the Museum and we’re sure they will enjoy our funny faces workshops”
The activities start on Thursday 1st August and each sessions costs £2 with all materials provided. There is no need to book – just drop in.
The funny faces theme is linked to our summer exhibition ‘Blockheads and Beggar’s: The Story of Johnson’s Head.’ The exhibition explores sculpture in a special display telling the story of a famous portrait bust of Johnson made by renowned 18th century sculptor and friend of Johnson, Joseph Nollekens.
The Museum is inviting families to compare different sculptures of Johnson as well as the opportunity to design a ‘Super Sculpture’ of their own.
Standard entrance to the Museum is free for all ages, and children’s activities including a cat hunt, colouring and costumes for dressing up are available everyday throughout the holidays. The Museum is open every day of the week from 10.30am – 4.30pm, and standard entrance is free of charge.
For more information call 01543 264 972, email email@example.com, click www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk or visit the Museum at the corner of the Market Square.
Birthplace Museum hosts ‘Johnson in the Round’ sculpture demonstration day
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will be a hive of activity on Saturday 6th July. Visitors will be able to see a local sculptor at work, discover more about the work of sculptor Denis Parsons and find out about talented Lichfield craftspeople.
Local sculpture will be celebrated in ‘Johnson in the Round’, a special event where carver Allen Necchi will be demonstrating his art at the Museum throughout the day. Allen is a wonderful local craftsman who brings wood and stone to life. He joined Lichfield restoration company Bridgemans in the 1980s, working under the guidance of skilled craftsman Denis Parsons MBE before becoming a freelance carver and sculptor. He has undertaken carving and restorative work on many famous buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle and our own Lichfield Cathedral.
The Museum is providing a unique opportunity to see Allen at work, and to find out about the process of carving and casting and all the tools of his trade. The day will also bring the work of Denis Parsons into the spotlight, with a chance to see many examples of his work, as well as a wonderful full-length statue of Samuel Johnson created by Denis in 1989. Visitors can also find out more about the Worshipful Company of Smiths, a group of talented Lichfield craftspeople in a display at the Museum also held on Saturday 6th July. This local Guild which dates back to the twelfth century has members with skills ranging from sculpture to cake decorating. The event is taking place from 10.30am – 4.30pm, and visitors can drop-in at any time.
Museums and Heritage Officer Joanne Wilson said: “We’re looking forward to hosting ‘Johnson in the Round’ and welcoming Allen Necchi. It is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the talented craftspeople of Lichfield and will be a fascinating day for visitors of all ages.”
The theme of sculpture continues throughout the summer with ‘Blockheads and Beggars: the Story of Johnson’s Head, a display exploring Johnson in sculpture from the 19th century to present day, with runs until September 29th.
Entry to the Museum and display day is free of charge, although donations are always appreciated. Summer opening hours are 10.30am – 4.30pm. For more information visit www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk, call 01543 264972 or pop into the Bookshop and reception on the corner of the market square.
Birthplace Museum explores Johnson sculpture In ‘Blockheads and Beggars'
This summer the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will be exploring sculpture in a special display set to open on Saturday 8th June. ‘Blockheads and Beggars’ will tell the story of a famous portrait bust of Johnson made by renowned 18th century sculptor and friend of Johnson, Joseph Nollekens RA.
Johnson was very impressed with the work of Nollekens, saying on one occasion when eminent sculptors were being discussed: “my friend Joe Nollekens can chop out a head with any of them”. He was, however, not quite so impressed with his own portrait, which shows him without a wig and looking aged and natural. The bust was not popular with Johnson’s female acquaintances, including his step-daughter Lucy Porter, who had a copy of the bust delivered to Lichfield.
The display will appeal to all art lovers as much as it will to Johnson fans. The bust, which has recently been restored, will be displayed alongside a striking painting featuring the statue believed to be by another star of the 18th century art world, Johann Zoffany. The exhibition will also look at sculpture of Johnson more locally, with a case dedicated to the late Denis Parsons, a talented local carver based at Bridgeman and Sons, who created a wonderful full-length statue of the great wordsmith in 1989. Local sculpture will be celebrated in a special event on Saturday July 6th, when carver Allen Necchi will be demonstrating his art at the Museum all day and visitors can find out more about the Worshipful Company of Smiths and talented craftspeople in the area.
Museums and Heritage Officer Joanne Wilson said: “The bust of Johnson is one of our star items at the Birthplace and we are delighted that is it taking centre stage for our summer display, especially in its newly-conserved condition. We are equally excited about showcasing the work of Denis Parsons, whose figure of Johnson is well-loved by visitors to the bookshop, and are looking forward to focussing on local carving when we welcome Allen to our sculpture demonstration day in July."
Entry to the Museum and Display is free of charge and the summer opening hours are 10.30am – 4.30pm. For more information visit www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk, call 01543 264972 or pop into the Bookshop and reception on the corner of the market square.
Meet Your Museum in May
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum is hosting three free ‘Meet Your Museum’ taster sessions for this year’s Adult Learners’ Week. Those keen to learn new skills, and to find out more about local history are encouraged to sign up to workshops being held on 18th, 20th and 22nd May.
An Art taster session will take place on Saturday 18th May at 2.30pm where participants will be encouraged to find their inner artist, learning new painting and drawing skills from award-winning local artist Carole Collier. Beginners are very welcome.
On Monday 20th May at 2.30pm our entertaining guide will take a group behind the scenes of the Museum, explore the life and work of David Garrick and bring the Georgian stage to life.
Those who would like to learn more about local women in the Midlands in Johnson’s time can attend our Women’s History session on Wednesday 22nd May at 2.30pm. Our enthusiastic guide will use the Museum’s collections and the stories of the women in Johnson’s life to explore the lives of women in the century.
Joanne Wilson, Museums and Heritage Officer said: “Everyone is welcome to our Meet the Museum interactive workshops. We always look forward to taking part in Adult Learners Week and this year we are doing even more to help people find out what unexpected things the Museum has to offer, develop new skills and to discover more about local history.” Sessions are free but those wishing to attend should contact the Museum to book their place as spaces are limited.
For more information or bookings please call 01543 264 972, email firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into the Museum on the corner of the Market Square.
Bookworms United! Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum hosts a new children’s book and activity club
From Saturday 9 March, 10.30am
The Samuel Johnson Museum is launching ‘Bookworms United!’, a new regular book and activity club for children. The club offers children aged seven to twelve years of age the chance to discover some fantastic fiction, and the colourful characters and stories they encounter on the page will be bought to life through activities and games.
The first Bookworms United will be held on Saturday 9 March at 10.30am. Members of the book club will be covering well-known authors such as Michael Morpurgo, who is no stranger to Lichfield after a popular appearance at the city’s Literary Festival in 2011.
Jo Wilson at the Birthplace Museum said: “we are delighted to launch Bookworms United. It’s a wonderful opportunity to help children explore the pleasure of reading in a really fun and relaxed environment, and to encourage them to use their imaginations in our creative activities. We hope they’ll have lots of fun following in the footsteps of a young Sam who discovered books here at the Birthplace in his father’s bookshop.”
Bookworms United will take place fortnightly and will cost £4 per child, including activities, refreshments and the books will be provided too. There are discounts available for family groups. Booking is essential - for more details or to book your place please call 01543 264 972, email email@example.com or pop into the Museum on the corner of the Market Square.
Get theatrical and discover your local paintings at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum
Sat 16th – Sun 24th February
Lots of exciting activities are taking place this half term at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum. Families are invited to come along and follow fun trails, re-create one of the museum’s masterpieces, and even make a mini theatre.
As part of the BBC’s ‘Your Paintings’ project the Birthplace Museum will be re-displaying paintings which have not been seen out of the stores for many years, including a portrait of David Garrick. The return of Lichfield’s famous eighteenth century actor to the Museum’s walls has also inspired this half term’s craft activity, when young visitors can make a mini theatres, complete with scenery inspired by the Museum’s landscape paintings. The theatre workshop will take place on Thursday 21st February from 11.00am – 2.00pm. No booking is required and the session costs just £2.
The ‘Your Paintings’ inspired activities continue throughout half term and visitors are invited to create an artwork inspired by the museum’s paintings and have it displayed in a half-term gallery! There is also a special trail, as well as dressing up fun and the museum’s favourite trail inspired by Johnson’s beloved cats available every day throughout the holiday.
Jo Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said: “We have an exciting half term in store and we’re looking forward to helping families follow in David Garrick’s footsteps with the creation of our mini theatres, as well as encouraging everybody to find out about our wonderful painting collection in partnership with the BBC Your Paintings project. We are looking forward to seeing how our half-term gallery develops throughout the week!”
Award winning local artist hosts a new season of workshops at Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum
Tuesday 15th January 6.30pm
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum is beginning its second season of regular workshops with award-winning local artist, Carole Collier. Carole is hosting the workshop of 2013 at the Museum on Tuesday 15th January at 6.30pm and is looking forward to welcoming artists of all levels.
Following the success of last year’s sessions Carol will be running regular workshops on the third Tuesday of every month. There will be a maximum of ten people in each session, creating a friendly, intimate environment where those attending will receive individual attention and support to create striking paintings and drawings.
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. Carole says: ‘I’d describe my way of working as free and fun. I’m looking forward to the second season of workshops at the Birthplace and I aim to lead sessions which are both enjoyable and instructive.’
Joanne Wilson, Museums and Heritage Officer said: “we are delighted to be holding regular workshops led by Carole for a second year running and we’re sure her fun and experimental approach will inspire those attending”.
Tickets for the workshops will cost £10, which includes all materials and refreshments. Booking is essential. For more details or to book your place please call 01543 264 972, email firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into the Museum on the corner of the Market Square.
NEWS FROM 2012
A Georgian Family Christmas
Step in from the cold and step back in time with a variety of festive events for all at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum this Christmas. The festive season will begin in November, when the Museum’s monthly art workshops will take on a suitably wintery theme. Whether you are a beginner or would just like to learn some new techniques, award winning artist Carole Collier will help you to create a watercolour winter wonderland in a relaxed and friendly workshop on Tuesday 20th November at 6.30pm (£10 for 2 hour session including all materials and refreshments, advance booking recommended).
Then on Thursday 25th November there will be festive refreshments and fun for the whole family in ‘Johnson’s Christmas Light Night’. Entrance and activities are free and there’s also a chance to win a fantastic Christmas hamper! The Museum will be open from 4 – 8pm. No tickets are necessary so everyone can drop in to warm up with a mince pie and hot mulled wine before watching the Christmas Lights Switch On in the Market Square.
Also booking now is the Museum’s main Christmas event in December: ‘A Georgian Family Christmas’ on Saturday December 15th at 4pm and 6pm. Join a Christmas party in the beautiful historic surroundings of the Grade I listed building with an evening of music, activities and festive fun. Carol through the ages will be performed alongside storytelling, Christmas craft activities, treasure hunt trails and a grotto of amazing automata to explore. Everyone will find something to delight, from mulled wine and a mince pie to tips from a professional flower arranger on how to make stunning Christmas decorations. Tickets costs £5 per adult and children go free, to book or to find out more call 01543 264 972, email email@example.com, or pop into the Museum on the corner of the Market Square from 11am – 3.30pm daily, or visit the Museum‘s website at www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk.
An Evening with Shakespeare
This October the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will be celebrating the nation’s favourite playwright with an evening of entertainment from popular local performers ‘Intimate Theatre’. On Saturday 6th October at 7.00pm and 8.30pm the audience will be taken on an entertaining wander through the bard’s works in ‘A Pocket Full of Bricks’: a celebration of Shakespeare in comedy, song, scenes, and sonnets, with the added spiced of Johnson's wry comments. Join cast members Ian Henderson, Jane Gentles, Elle Knight and David Titley for an entertaining hour with a glass of wine in the company of fine actors and two of the greatest writers England has produced!
The event, rescheduled from the original date in May, is being staged in honour of the world Shakespeare Festival this year. Samuel Johnson was one of the greatest Shakespearean commentators of his day, producing a whole edition of his works and filling his famous Dictionary with quotes from the Bard. Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy the best of our nation’s greatest playwright in the home of our nation’s greatest wit - and also find out where the curious title comes from! Tickets for the performance cost £6.50 and include a drink. For advance bookings or to find out more please call 01543 264 972, email firstname.lastname@example.org or pop in to the Museum on the corner of Market Street and Breadmarket Street.
Sporting Summer at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will be celebrating this summer of sport with an exciting new exhibition Blood Sweat and Gambling; Sport in Georgian England. Visitors can discover how in the Georgian period sports and games were transformed from village spectacles that centered around Holy Days and Fetes to the beginnings of the professional institutions that we know today.
Families are also encouraged to try out some of the games enjoyed in the century in Samuel Johnson's Indoor Games. Come to the museum to play indoor skittles, horse racing, fishing, quoits and cards.
Prints depicting sports such as boxing and fishing will be on display, as well as one of the footballs from Derbyshire’s famous Royal Shrovetide match played in Ashbourne between the Up'Ards and the Down'Ards. The exhibition also features the first famous sporting celebrities, including Billy the Dog – the most amazing rodent catcher of his day!
The display and games run until September 2nd. Also, every Thursday in August young visitors can join a different sporting theme arts and craft activity in Summer Fun at Sam's House. Places cost just £2 on a drop-in basis. For more details on all of these events please visit our Special Events page.
The Nature of Shakespeare: May events at the Birthplace Museum Booking Now!
This May the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will be celebrating the nation’s favourite playwright with a series of events in honour of the World Shakespeare Festival. From 5th May visitors can explore ‘The Nature of Shakespeare’, an exhibition of work by local calligraphers exploring the Bard’s natural world, exhibited around the Birthplace Museum. A display on ‘Johnson’s Shakespeare’ will also look at Lichfield’s most famous inhabitant’s links to the literary legend.
On Tuesday 15th May the natural world also provides the theme for a special workshop for Adult Learner’s week. In ‘The Nature of Art’ local artist Carole Collier will lead a hands-on session exploring batik-inspired painting techniques. The event is suitable for artists of all abilities – if you’ve always wanted to pick up a paintbrush but don’t know where to start, then come and give it a try, or even an experienced artist can pick up some new tips and techniques. Tickets for the workshop cost £10 including all materials, refreshments and a private viewing of the calligraphy exhibition.
The season of events will come to a grand finale with Intimate Theatre’s ‘A Pocket Full of Bricks’, a night of Shakespearean entertainment at the Museum. Visitors are invited to brush up their Shakespeare in this light hearted wander through the Bard’s works (and find out where the curious title comes from!). Tickets for the performance cost £6.50 and include a drink. For bookings or to find out more call 01543 264 972, email email@example.com or pop in to the Museum on the corner of Market Street and Breadmarket Street.
We are sorry that 'A Pocket Full of Bricks' has been postponed until later in the year - please contact us for further details
Get Hands-on with Fun Flowerpots!
Thursday 16th February 11am – 2pm
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will be celebrating the first signs of spring on Thursday 16th February. The ‘Fun Flowerpots’ activity taking place from 11am – 2pm will give children the opportunity to create a colourful flowerpot with unique flowers made from their own handprints.
The workshops are drop-in and cost £2 per participating child. Joanne Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said: “Johnson defined spring as ‘the season in which plants spring and vegetate’ in his famous dictionary and we hope the children attending our fun activity will use their imagination to design brilliant blooms, bringing a little bit of spring to this half term, whatever the weather.”
Standard entrance to the Museum is free for all ages, and activities including a cat hunt, colouring and costumes are also available for free everyday throughout the holidays. The current opening hours are 11am – 3.30pm.
For more information call 01543 264 972 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWS FROM 2011
Christmas at the Johnson Birthplace
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum is decking the halls and mulling the wine in preparation for an evening of entertainment in ‘A Georgian Christmas’ on Saturday 10th December. Tickets are still available for the event which invites visitors to step back in time with traditional decorations, costume, storytelling and games from Samuel Johnson’s era.
Visitors can enjoy an array of drop-in activities, music and storytelling for all ages throughout the beautiful historic surroundings of the Grade I listed building. From ‘Grimm and Ghastly tales’ in the attic snug to an array of amazing automata, and hands-on card making sessions. There will be treasure hunts, competitions and prize draws to enter for adults and children. Everyone will find something to delight, from mulled wine and a mince pie to tips from a professional flower arranger on how to make stunning Christmas decorations, and the chance to make your own to take home.
Museums and Heritage Officer Joanne Wilson said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming visitors to our Georgian Christmas evening. It is always a popular event and the atmosphere is wonderful in the historic surroundings of the Birthplace”. Tickets for ‘A Georgian Christmas’ cost £5 for adults and £2.50 for children including a drink and mince pie upon arrival. To book your place call 01543 264 972, email email@example.com or call into the Museum on the corner of the Market Square from 11am – 3.30pm daily. The Museum is also open as usual throughout the holiday season closed only on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Family trails and activities and available daily, and standard admission is free of charge. For more information visit www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk, or twitter users can follow the museum @SamuelJohnsonBM.
Join Johnson's 302nd Birthday Party!
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 17th September.
As part of Lichfield Heritage Weekend’s ‘Ye Olde Games’ theme, young visitors to the Museum can discover sports and hobbies from Johnson’s time in a trail around the house and ‘Brilliant Balloons’ activity. Air ballooning began in Johnson’s time and fascinated his friends in the 18th century. Find out more and make a model air-balloon fit for a party all throughout the day.
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! In addition all are invited to ensemble on the Market Square for 12 noon when the civic party and Johnson Society members will gather to watch to Mayor lay a wreath on the statue of Johnson, while King Edward’s Brass Band and the Cathedral Girl’s school choir perform. The ceremony will be followed by a performance by the popular ‘Intimate Theatre’, providing Johnsonian entertainment with a sporting theme!
The Johnson Society will also be marking Johnson’s Birthday with the traditional supper at Lichfield Guildhall in the evening, where current President Frank Skinner will hand over his badge to President elect Susie Dent, known for her work on the Oxford English Dictionary and appearances on Countdown’s ‘Dictionary Corner’.
A personal audience with ‘The Swan of Lichfield’ at the Johnson Birthplace
On Saturday 11th June visitors to the Johnson Birthplace will be able to meet the famous ‘Swan of Lichfield’, poetess Anna Seward in a special event held in honour of new exhibition ‘The Letters of Lichfield’. Miss Seward, played by actress Rachel Duncan, will be talking about her famous poetry, Lichfield life and gossip, and her rather opinionated views on Dr Johnson himself! Visitors will be transported back to 18th century Lichfield, with an evening private viewing of the Museum and new exhibition and a glass of wine included in the ticket price.
Joanne Wilson at the Birthplace Museum said: “Anna Seward was a fascinating person with a very strong character, and we are very much looking forward to seeing her brought back to life in the Birthplace”
The one act play, written and directed by David Titley, will be performed on a timed entry basis from 6.30pm. Tickets cost £5 each and are available to book over the phone on 01543 264 972, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in person at the Museum, Breadmarket Street, 10.30-4.30pm daily.
Jenny Uglow OBE becomes President of the Alliance of Literary Societies
The Alliance of Literary Societies is delighted to announce that Jenny Uglow OBE is to become its new President. She succeeds Aeronwy Thomas, daughter of Dylan Thomas.
Jenny Uglow is one of Britain’s leading biographers. Her outstanding biographies – of George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry Fielding, William Hogarth, and Thomas Bewick – cross boundaries of genre and time, making her the ideal leader of this diverse organization. The Lunar Men: The Friends who made the Future (2003), winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, exemplifies her ability to grapple with science, art and challenging personalities to produce a powerful portrait of a group of influential Midlands friends in the late 18th century. Her most recent book is A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration. She is the editorial director of Chatto & Windus.
Jenny Uglow commented: ‘I am delighted and honoured to be the President of the ALS, which is such a vibrant body, bringing together admirers of so many different writers – a tribute to our lasting passion for literature.’
The Alliance of Literary Societies is an umbrella organization representing 125 literary societies, ranging from Jane Austen to Emile Zola. The annual AGM in May is hosted each year by a member society. In May 2010 the Elizabeth Gaskell Society welcomed the ALS to Knutsford, for a programme of talks and visits to places related to the author.
The Johnson Society of Lichfield looks forward to welcoming members of the ALS and Jenny Uglow to this year’s AGM during the weekend of May 21-22. In addition to talks and tours and a reception at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, there will be the usual feast of talk about books and writers. Perhaps the ghosts of a few of the Lunar Men (and women) will be eavesdropping.
Alliance of Literary Societies website: www.allianceofliterarysocieties.org.uk
High fives for local writer: the 'In Our Hands' Story begins in Lichfield
Lichfield’s proud tradition of supporting and inspiring community and arts projects has received another welcome boost in the form of a new project, 'In Our Hands' by writer and storyteller, Stewart Derry.
'In Our Hands' is an exciting community arts project for Lichfield, the result of Stewart’s successful funding bid to Arts Council England and Staffordshire County Council’s Heritage & Arts Service.
'In Our Hands' is a large community story project exploring the lives, memories, hopes and aspirations of a diverse group of people in the city. Stewart is working in partnership with a number of groups and learning centres in North Lichfield to make this a truly memorable event.
“In Our Hands is a wonderful opportunity for celebrating our lives, memories and stories through the arts and also opening up that conversation with others,” said Stewart. “The response so far to the work and the project has been fantastic! The stories of these groups and people is a conversation through time; how the past still speaks to the present, how those memories and voices find their connections in you and me. They are stories of the ordinary and the remarkable, the unfolding human experience navigating the daily rhythm of life, loss, love and companionship. Each person’s story is in turn connected with a small hand held object that holds a certain meaning and resonance to the teller and the tale. So we have, for each person, a memory, an object and a story.
The project has also involved a series of special outreach events with The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, inspiring new stories and memories for a series of rarely displayed objects in the collection. These collective memories, stories and treasured objects will form part of a new and exciting exhibition at the museum. But that is only the beginning.
Lichfield’s story will be the first part in a long series of In Our Hands projects with different groups and communities across the world. “What better place to start than home,” said Stewart, “and to contribute to that rich history of arts and community involvement in my own back yard. The vision of the project is in the true spirit of the storyteller. Very soon I’m going to have to gather my maps and put on my travelling shoes. But for the moment I’m really enjoying being in the city of the spires. As far as the In Our Hands project goes, right now Lichfield is pretty much the centre of the world!”
The interactive In Our Hands exhibition will be at The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum: Saturday 2nd April – Monday 2nd May 2011.
For more information about Stewart and the project visit www.stewartderry.co.uk
NEWS FROM 2010
The Formation of Poetry Maquettes available
“The Formation of Poetry” by Peter Walker arbs arbsa, was the first new public artwork in Lichfield, Staffordshire for over 50 years. It was commissioned as a celebration of the life and work of Samuel Johnson, and pays reference to the longevity and value of his work as both lexicographer and poet, and how the influence of that work has fed into the the forming of language thereafter. The sculpture was created to celebrate Johnson’s Tercentenary.
A limited world wide edition of 12 copies of the ¼ scale model are now available. These highly collectable artworks – are individually fabricated bronze sculptures produced on a brass base. Each sculpture is individually edition marked. For more information contact email@example.com or contact Peter Walker directly on 07968 277610
Birthplace Museum receives national recognition
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum has been awarded Full Accreditation by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). The national scheme recognises Museums which operate to high professional standards in caring for their collections and providing excellent services for their visitors.
The Museum, previously held ‘Registered’ status. The Registration scheme was replaced in 2004 by the new and much more detailed Accreditation scheme. Staffordshire was one of the last areas that the new scheme was rolled out to, and the Birthplace applied in January this year. Many new developments have been made at the Museum while preparing for the award including a wider range of special events and activities for children and families, improved information for researchers, new ‘welcome’ leaflets for visitors and a scheme of outreach talks for groups. As well as the improvements for visitors a great deal of work has gone on behind the scenes, cataloguing and caring for the over 6000 items in the Museum’s collection and archive.
Joanne Wilson, Museums and Heritage Officer for Lichfield City Council, said: “We are delighted that the MLA has awarded the Birthplace Museum Full Accreditation. The staff and volunteers at the Museum have been working very hard towards this recognition for a number of years, and we are committed to continuing to improve our services to ensure that the Birthplace Museum remains a fantastic attraction that Lichfield can be very proud of”.
Birthplace appears in major BBC series
The Birthplace Museum was used as a location for David Dimbleby's fascinating new history series 'The Seven Ages of Britain', which explores the history of the nation through our art treasures. David consults a first edition on Johnson's Dictionary while sitting in our beautiful Birth Room. The Museum appeared in 'The Age of Money', which aired on Sunday 7th March at 9pm on BBC One. The epidsode can be seen on iplayer at: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qn2gv
The Birthplace helps to tell the story of the World
The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum is one of ten Staffordshire Museums to have been chosen to join an exciting new national project which launches this week. ‘A History of the World’ is a unique partnership between the BBC, British Museum and 340 museums nationwide. Each regional museum has selected an object which has local, national and international significance. The Birthplace Museum has chosen a first edition of Johnson’s famous ‘Dictionary of the English Language’, published in 1755, as its star object.
Lichfield’s most famous son left his birth place in his twenties to find work as a writer in London. In 1746 he was approached by a group of printers and publishers with the project of writing the Dictionary. Johnson worked for nine years with a group of assistants at a house in Gough Square, London. Although it was written in London, Johnson’s early life in Lichfield played an important part in shaping the encyclopaedic memory that helped him to complete the task, as he spent his childhood reading the books in his Father’s shop on the Market Square. Johnson's was not the very first Dictionary, but it was the most concise and complete one produced up to the time, and the first to include examples of usages. It gives us a fascinating insight into the language and literature used in the Georgian period. Johnson's Dictionary became the standard authority on the English Language with a worldwide influence: it was shipped to America, Australia and New Zealand, and was translated into French and German.
Joanne Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said: “A History of the World is an incredibly exciting project and we are delighted to be involved. It is great to see Lichfield recognised nationally as both a centre of historical importance and a vibrant cultural attraction today, and we hope that many local people will join in our activities related to the project over the coming year”.
See the Dictionary on permanent display at the Museum, alongside information and interactive activities for children and adults alike.
NEWS FROM 2009
Churchwarden pipes – only 100 left!
To mark the Tercentenary of the birth of Samuel Johnson, The Johnson Society has commission 300 specially crafted clay Church Warden pipes for presentation to everyone attending the Tercentenary Gala Supper as a memento of the occasion. The bowl of each pipe has been sculpted into a likeness of Samuel Johnson’s face. Each pipe comes in a presentation pack which is individually numbered.
The pipes cost £25 each and are for sale to all from the Birthplace Museum Bookshop and by post. Please contact the shop on 01543 264972 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.