The building of the Norman cathedral at the end of the 11th century marked the next major advance in Christian life in Lichfield. Although the See moved first to Chester in 1075 and then to Coventry in 1102, there is evidence that a stone cathedral was begun around 1085, in the Norman style. Bishop Roger de Clinton, appointed in 1128, was strongly associated with this development, and archaeological evidence suggests that there was hardly a period in the next 250 years when building work was not in progress.
Bishop Roger de Clinton
During the great restoration of the cathedral by Sir Gilbert Scott, in the 1850s, the foundations of the Norman cathedral were uncovered in the choir, and recent archaeological work has considerably increased our knowledge of it. It used to be thought that little, if any, of the Norman building remained, but today we can point to Norman stonework in the crossing area, and in the wall linking the south choir aisle to St Chad’s Head Chapel. The overall dimensions of the Norman cathedral are no longer known, but it is likely to have been similar, in style and size, to the abbey built by de Clinton at Buildwas. Bishop de Clinton was also responsible for the fortification of the Close, and for laying out the city of Lichfield. He appointed a dean and several prebendaries to the Cathedral, and his memory is perpetuated in the arms of the Cathedral and See, which were those borne by him in the Second Crusade, in which he died.
The cathedral, begun in 1085, had an apsidal end to the choir, presumably containing the shrine of St Chad, and was flanked by two smaller apses, north and south. In due course, a square-ended chapel was added to the central apse. Both apse and chapel were then replaced by a larger, square-ended choir, providing more room for pilgrimage to the Shrine. By the end of the 12th century, work had begun on replacing the Norman cathedral with a more magnificent building, built in the latest style. This Gothic Cathedral is, broadly speaking, the one we see today. The third cathedral church on this site, it has had one of the most interesting histories of any in England. It survived the destructive force of the Reformation, three sieges during the Civil War, and experienced three major restorations before the 20th century.