Lichfield Cathedral

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Crowned by three dramatic towers, Lichfield Cathedral is a Gothic fantasy, constructed in stages from 1200 to 1350. The enormous vaulted nave is set slightly off line from the choir, creating a bizarre perspective when viewed from the west door, and carvings inside the cathedral still bear signs of damage caused by Civil War soldiers sharpening their swords.

Check schedules online for 45-minute tower tours climbing 160 steps for sweeping views from the central spire.

In the octagonal Chapter House, you can view the illuminated Chad Gospels, created around AD 730; an ornate Anglo-Saxon bas-relief known as the Lichfield Angel; and a faded but glorious medieval wall painting above the door.

The grand west facade positively bows under the weight of 113 statues of bishops, saints and kings of England. Be sure to stroll the delightful, once-fortified Cathedral Close, ringed with imposing 17th- and 18th-century houses.