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Whittington from the north showing St Giles Church on the left and the heath in the distance on the right
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Whittington is a village and civil parish which lies approximately 3 miles south east of Lichfield in the Lichfield district of Staffordshire, England. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 2,591, increasing to 2,603 at the 2011 Census. The parish council is a joint one with Fisherwick. The Coventry Canal borders the village to the north and east.
Whittington Heath was the site of the Lichfield races which had moved from Fradley in 1702. During the 18th century they were one of the largest and well attended race meetings in the Midlands and in 1773 a grandstand was erected near the Lichfield-Tamworth Road. However, during the 19th century the popularity of the races dwindled, and military use of the heath grew.
Under the Cardwell Reforms of the army, the War Office approached the Marquess of Anglesey in 1875 to buy the heath for the building of Whittington Barracks. Construction of the barracks for the depots of the two regiments and for a militia battalion (of which there were four in the county) started on Whittington Heath in 1877. 1881 was the date recorded as the formal handing over of the newly built barracks to the military.
In 1895 the last race meeting was held after the War Office declared it was "undesirable to hold a race meeting at the gate of the barracks." The Lichfield races are remembered in the names of pubs called the Horse & Jockey and in Lichfield, The Scales which was where jockeys were "weighed in". The old grandstand became a soldiers home before it was purchased in 1957 by Whittington Heath Golf Course as its clubhouse.
The village has long had a church dedicated to St Giles. However, the 13th century building was destroyed by fire in 1760, and was rebuilt in Georgian style using sandstone quarried from Hopwas Hayes wood. The church contains memorial panelling for Samuel Lipscomb Seckham (1827–1900), architect and High Sheriff of Staffordshire, who lived at Whittington Old Hall, a 16th-century mansion.
One family produced three vicars of Whittington: the Levett family. Rev. Richard Levett served as vicar from 1743 to 1751. His son, also Rev. Richard Levett, served as vicar of Whittington from 1795 to 1796 and Rev. Thomas Levett served for forty years, from 1796 to 1836. There are memorials to the Levetts in St Giles Church. Large landowners, the family also established charitable gifts towards the Whittington Free School. A subsequent rector of Whittington was Hon. Rev. George Barrington Legge, son of William Legge, 4th Earl of Dartmouth, who was married to the daughter of John Levett of Wychnor Park.
The co-founder of Marks & Spencer plc, Thomas Spencer died 1905, is buried at St Giles Church, Whittington. The churchyard also contains Commonwealth war graves of 47 service personnel of the First and Second World Wars.
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- "CWGC Cemetery report".
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