Another place I visited when I was in Lichfield was the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum. Built for Johnson’s parents in 1707-8 it was their family home and the family bookshop and Samuel was born there in 1709.
The museum is a nice building, laid out well over 5 floors with quotes from Samuel Johnson, writer of the world’s most complete dictionary in 1755. The kitchen down in the basement depicts a scene from where a young Samuel, always an avid reader, is frightened by the ghost scene in Hamlet and runs upstairs looking for the comfort of other people.
The room below is that in which Samuel Johnson was born, when his mother Sarah was 40 years old.
The room includes information about Johnson’s early life and artefacts from that time. He was an ill child but still managed to go to Pembroke College in Oxford although he left during his second year.
Johnson was, by his own admission, a lover of tea and there are several items on display which bear that out, such as this teapot and chocolate pot.
At one point Johnson opened a school in Lichfield which ultimately proved unsuccessful and left him and his wife in debt. What did come out of that time though was a long friendship with actor David Garrick who had been a student there, and the museum highlights some of that relationship.
Naturally there is a room dedicated to his dictionary and his love of words, including a first edition dictionary. One amusing section had an audio display where he admitted that a lot of the time his definitions were incorrect because of sheer ignorance, and that he couldn’t possibly know everything!
Entry is free and it proved to be a very interesting look at a man who I had no idea had a connection to Lichfield when I set out to visit the Cathedral.
You can find more of my photos of the museum here.
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