Museum Gardens were first created as an informal park in the late 1800s. The land was once part of Minster Pool until a causeway was built, on what is now part of Bird Street, and it became known as Bishop’s Pool (or Upper Pool). This pool silted up over time and was eventually filled in.
Museum Gardens opened as a public park in 1859, during the reign of Queen Victoria. It was developed by the City Corporation and funded by the Conduit Lands Trust. Originally incorporating ornamental pools and avenues of trees, the gardens were designed to complement the Italianate architecture of the adjoining Free Library and Museum.
Local society philanthropists and wealthy residents donated items. The garden’s ornamental fountain was donated by JT Law, the diocesan chancellor, in 1871.
The figures of the lions round Chancellor Law’s Fountain were given by Sir Richard Cooper, a city alderman, in the late 1880s. In 1892, the Conduit Lands Trust agreed to supply water to the fountain three times a week in the summer, without charge.
Beacon Park’s Recreation Grounds were opened in 1891 on nearly 5 acres of land. The grounds were extended by 11½ acres in 1944, thanks to a local benefactor, Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Swinfen Broun. The area now features tennis courts, bowling greens and football pitches.
Martyrs’ Plaque is the remains of a sculpture of the city’s common seal. It was originally set into the façade of Lichfield’s 18th century Guildhall, but is now displayed on a plinth in the park’s herbaceous garden.
The plaque portrays three dismembered kings who, according to legend, led 999 Christians into battle against the Romans in AD 288. The kings were defeated and became martyrs.
Beacon Park, including Museum Gardens, is owned and managed by Lichfield District Council.