The volume tells the story of Lichfield and its neighbourhood from Romano-British times to the late 20th century. Lichfield was first mentioned in the mid 7th century and was chosen as a see in 669A.D. with St. Chad as its first bishop. A cathedral has stood there ever since, much rebuilt and restored over the centuries and noted for its three spires, 'the ladies of the vale'. Until the Reformation, St. Chad's shrine attracted a stream of pilgrims. The cathedral and its medieval fortified close were garrisoned by both sides during the Civil War and suffered great damage and losses. There are two other early churches, St. Chad's which is associated with the saint's dwelling place, and St. Michael's on the hilltop site where there may once have been a pagan sanctuary. The city itself originated as a new town planted by the bishop in the mid 12th century. In the mid 16th century, it was granted city and county status by the Crown. A church dedicated to St. Mary was built in the market place, and other medieval institutions included a Franciscan friary, an almshouse for men and another for women which both survive, and an important religious and social guild.
On the eve of the guild's suppression at the Reformation much of its landed property was conveyed in trust for the maintenance of the city's medieval water supply and for other needs. As a result, Lichfield has for centuries enjoyed private-enterprise public services, and the Conduit Lands Trust is still active. In the 18th century, Lichfield was a centre for polite society with its races attracting many visitors. In the 19th century, there was industrial development, notably in the brewing industry. The later 20th century, has seen the growth of light industry and also extensive residential development, with a nearly threefold increase in the city's population. Tourism too has been encouraged and is associated particularly with Samuel Johnson, born in the city in 1709. The volume also covers seven former townships lying outside the city but once part of the Lichfield parishes of St. Michael and St. Chad.
They include Wall with its Romano-British remains, Fisherwick which once possessed a mansion and park by Capability Brown, and the urban parish of Burntwood containing the former mining village of Chasetown and Chase Terrace; the others are Curborough and Elmhurst, Freeford, Hammer-wich, and Streethay with Fulfen.