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is not exactly ascertained. The town is still divided into two portions, the city and the close, by a large sheet of water, which contributes not a little to its beauty. The close is of exempt jurisdiction, and wholly independent both of Lichfield and the county of Stafford, the residentiary dean and canons being sole justices within its precincts. This district, which stands upon much bigher ground than the rest of the town, having been fortified, stood several vigorous sieges, during the period of the great rebellion. The first of these happened in March 1643, when Sir Richard Dyott, and some of the principal gentlemen of the county, under the earl of Chesterfield held it for the king, and were attacked by lord Brook and Sir John Gell, generals in the parliamentary army. The former of these last mentioned officers, a zealous puritan, is said to have drawn up his army within half a mile of the town; and, having vowed the destruction of the cathedral, implored the divine as. sistance in the accomplishment of his intended purpose. He then advanced into the city, and raised a battery in Dam Street over against the east gate of the close. But his lordship, having stationed himself under the porch,of a small house immediately adjoining in order to superintend the progress of the attack, was shot through the eye by a gentleman of the Dyott family, who happened to observe him from the top of the batelements of the chief steeple of the cathedral.* The death of their commander, however, did not much discourage the parliamentary forces, who continued the siege with great vigour under the conduct of Sir John Gell, and shortly after induced the garrison to surrender upon the “condition of free quarters to all in general within the close.”+ The rebels having left a strong body of troops to defend this post, these were in their
turn • The spot on which he fell is now distinguished by a pavement of white pebbles, and a marble tablet with an inscription in memory of the event which, having happened on the anniversary of St. Chad, patron of the cathedral, was attributed by the superstitious among the cavaliers to the influence of that saint, as a punishment for the impious vow, noticed in the text.
+ Shaw's Staffordshire, Vol. I. p. 240,
good condition till the period of the sieges above detailed, when they suffered very considerable damage, not only from the fire of the batteries and musquetry, but also from the rapacity of the republican army. The honour of renewing them was reserved for bishop Hacket,* who was appointed to this see immediately after the Restoration. The very morning following his arrival, he set his own servants and horses with teams to remove the rubbish, and lay the first hand to the work he meditated. By money contributed by himself and the dean and chapter, and obtained through his exertions, from the gentlemen of his diocese, he was enabled to restore this noble pile to its former splendour. In 1788 it again underwent a thorough repair by subscription, under the superintendence of Mr. James Wyatt of London.
To describe accurately the present and past condition of this cathedral and the various ornaments, whether monumental or otherwise, with which it is either now, or has been formerly, embellished would occupy a much larger space than the limits of this work will-permit. We must content ourselves, therefore, with a brief notice of the more prominent circumstances by which it is distinguished. The extent of the whole building from east to west t is 411 feet in length, and from north to
south • A noble instance of magnanimity and heroic fortitude is recorded of this. prelate, during the persecution of the establisbed church by the Puritans. Notwithstanding the severe penalties enacted to prevent it, he continued to read the liturgy regularly in his church of St. Andrew's Holborn. In consequence of this a serjeant, with a file of men, entered the church and threatened him with instant death if he did not desist. “Soldier," said the intrepid Hacket, “ I am doing my duty, do you yours," and with a more audible voice proceeded in the service. The soldier, astonished at his undaunted composure, left the church without doing him the slightest injury.
+ Dr. Plot observes a remarkable circumstance relative to this church. which is that it declines 27 degrees from the points of east and west. This error, however, was soinewhat amended by bishop Langton, who pointed the walls of Our Lady's chapel, which he built, much more to the east; hence it is that the walls of this chapel stand bevil to those of the church, as miay be noticed eren at a superficial glance. Plor's Staffordshire, p. 562.