01 July 2021, The Tablet

The return of the saint

St Chad at Lichfield

The return of the saint

Peter Walker working on a model of his statue of St Chad
Photo: courtesy of Peter Walker


As a new statue of St Chad is unveiled at Lichfield Cathedral, we trace the tale of a ‘pilgrim bishop’ and his place in British history

The current controversy over public statues of historical figures, and how they colour our view of our past, could make commissioning a new one tricky right now. But unlike eighteenth-­century philanthropist Edward Colston, whose memorial in Bristol was toppled last year because of his association with the Atlantic slave trade, St Chad is not a subject who divides opinion.

And so when locally born artist Peter Walker’s new and striking three-metre-tall bronze statue of the seventh-century church leader was unveiled last weekend in front of Lichfield’s splendid, triple-spired medieval cathedral (inset) there was only celebration in the air. As the dean, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, put it: “Lichfield Cathedral is here because Chad was here.”

Lichfield is a hidden gem among British cathedrals, and Chad is among the ranks of lesser-known Anglo-Saxon saints: so the hope is that this new artwork will carve out a place for them both in the public consciousness, and by association highlight the story of faith in these islands, past and present.

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