This plaque was originally gilt and mounted on the front of Lichfield City’s Guildhall, which dates from the early 1700s and still stands on Bore Street in the city centre. As part of the Lichfield City Historic Parks project, it has been restored and moved to Beacon Park’s Herbacious Gardens.
The plaque is of the city’s historic seal, and shows three Christian knight martyrs, Lichfield Cathedral and a ring of trees.
In the mid 13th century the place name Lichfield was taken to mean ‘the field of corpses’. It is rumoured the name commemorated the slaughter of St Alban’s Christian followers, martyred under the Roman emperor Diocletian (AD 284–305) in Lichfield.
Despite this story not being taken seriously in medieval Lichfield, in 1549 the newly formed City Corporation chose to make the alleged massacre the design of its seal. The macabre seal depicts severed limbs, shields, swords, the cathedral and a grove of trees.
The classical Guildhall was rebuilt with a new gothic façade in 1847. Martyrs’ Plaque was moved to a rockery in Beacon Park’s Museum Gardens when it opened in 1864.
The plaque lay in the rockery, falling into disrepair until 2010, when it was conserved, restored to an upright position in a plinth, and relocated.