The Close surrounding Lichfield Cathedral has its own story to tell. In medieval times it was a fortified area. A stone wall surrounded it on three sides, whilst the South was naturally protected by the waters of the Moggs, now Minster Pool.
Evidence of the fortifications can still be seen in the south-east corner, where the wall and the foundations of the south gate have been uncovered. In the north-east corner the remains of Bishop de Clinton’s Palace are evident, but the rest of the medieval Close is more difficult to discover. Vicars’ Close, to the west, retains its 15th-century form, and several other houses are built round medieval remains. Opposite the Cathedral West Front is Erasmus Darwin House, a museum dedicated to his life’s work. The Bishop’s Palace, now the Cathedral School, built in 1687, was enlarged by Bishop Selwyn in 1867. The Deanery, next to it, is early 18th century.
On the south side St. Mary’s House, in the corner, is built over a medieval dwelling and still incorporates some of the wall and a staircase tower from the 14th century. Opposite this, The Old Stables uses the restored Muniment Room, once a stable block for Bishop Hacket. Newton’s College to the south-west was the gift of John Newton in 1806, and leads the visitor out through the site of the old Westgate and into Beacon Street.