History on the hamlets of Gentleshaw and Cannock Wood in the county of Staffordshire


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Gentleshaw and Cannock Wood

Historically, the hamlet of Gentleshaw formed part of the parish of Longdon but it became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1840, soon after the church was erected. The place remained part of the civil parish of Longdon so there is a case, therefore, for the pubs listed here to be included in other parts of the website so some taverns may appear in more than one section. The ecclesiastical parish was created on September 4th, 1840 and was formed out of portions of the parishes of Longdon, Cannock, Cannock Wood, Burntwood and Chorley. In terms of public houses, the hamlet was in the petty sessional division and county court district of Rugeley. Consequently, if a publican landed themselves in hot water they would be expected to face a magistrate in Rugeley.

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Christ Church at Gentleshaw [2014]

Gentleshaw is a scattering of farms and cottages on an elevated section of Cannock Chase. Water drains off the hill along several water courses, including Redmoor Brook, Shaw Brook and Maple Brook, all of which form small valleys. It is a pleasant area for walking and cycling and there remain a couple of pubs in which to enjoy food and drink and where one can reflect on how the area would have appeared years ago when local patrons sought refreshment after toiling in the fields, quarries and below ground in the mines.

In the early 16th century the settlement was known as Gentylshawe, a name deriving from Shaw [a Middle English term for a grove]. The first element of the name is a reference to John Gentyl who, in 1341, was sued by Simon de Ruggeley for chopping down his trees. The open space created by this act subsequently became known as Gentylshawe.

Castle Ring at Cannock Wood [2014]

The area to the north at Cannock Wood was occupied in the Iron Age, the legacy of which is Castle Ring. It is said that it is possible to see nine counties from the top of Castle Hill which is roughly 800ft above sea level. The hill fort is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Scientific Interest. There is a path around the top of the monument, a legacy of Victorian tourism. For those pursuing genealogy research it is interesting to note that a boundary line dividing the Offlow and Cuttlestone Hundreds cuts across this monument.

Gentleshaw - Beaudesert Hall [1814]

A short distance from the hill fort is the site of one of the lost houses of Staffordshire. Beaudesert, the seat of the Paget family, Earls of Uxbridge and Marquesses of Anglesey, stood until the interwar years when, it was demolished due to it failing to sell at auction. Parts of the building were sold and dispersed widely before the remains were acquired by a demolition company.

The first of the Paget family to be raised to the peerage was Sir William Paget who, after rendering considerable service to Henry VIII, was appointed one of the council of the young King Edward VI., and in 1540 created Baron Paget of Beaudesert. William, the sixth Baron Paget, was Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire in 1688, and appointed Envoy Extraordinary to the Emperor of Germany. Following his death in 1713, his son Henry was created Earl of Uxbridge. This title became extinct in the late 18th century when Henry Paget died without issue. The Barony of Paget descended to Henry Bayley, who assumed the name of Paget, and was exalted to the Earldom of Uxbridge in 1784. He died in 1812, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Henry William Paget. He gained notoriety during the Battle of Waterloo, in which he lost a leg. He was subsequently created Marquis of Anglesey. It was to the family's other seat, Plas Newydd, in Anglesey to which they moved when they could no longer afford to maintain Beaudesert Hall.

The Remains of Beaudesert Hall at Gentleshaw [2013]

It is thought that the earliest house at Beaudesert was used as a hunting lodge for the Bishops of Lichfield and Coventry. The house was rebuilt during the Elizabethan period by the 3rd Baron Paget. That structure remained until 1771 when the family commissioned James Wyatt to create a neo-Gothic mansion. The interior of the house was remodelled following a fire in 1909. In 1931 the hall and nine lodges were put on the market but only the lodges, most of which remain, were sold. The furnishings and interior fittings were sold off, some of which were transported to Australia and installed in a property near Adelaide. Beaudesert Hall was finally sold to demolition contractors but even they went bankrupt before their task was completed. Consequently, some remains of the house can still be found within the grounds that were donated to the scout movement.

Cannock Wood Colliery [1938]

Commemorated by a pub, to the south of Castle Ring and close to Redmoor Brook there once stood the Cistercian abbey of Rademor. Legend has it that, around 1130, King Stephen gave an area of land known as 'Rademor' for a hermitage. A small community developed and an abbey was founded in the mid-12th century under the patronage of Empress Matilda. By 1155 the monks exchanged the abbey for a site at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire and it is said that the former abbey was used by King Henry II as an early hunting lodge on Cannock Chase.

Mining was established in the area of Cannock Wood in the late 16th century, though on a small scale. However, by the late 17th century Lord Paget was starting to grant leases for extended mineral exploitation. At this time there were eighteen households in Cannock Wood. Only a few cottages and farms built before the 19th century remain.

1900 Kelly's Directory

Anglesey The Marquess of, Beaudesert
Chetwynd Arthur, Chestall House, Cannock Wood
Gillart Rev. James M.A., Vicarage

Ashley John, Shopkeeper
Ashley William, Beer Retailer
Bayley George, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Bayley William, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Booth Edward, Carpenter
Boston Albert, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Bradbury Charles, Farmer, Cannock Wood
Bradbury George, Farmer, Cannock Wood
Bradbury Henry, Farmer, Cannock Wood
Bradbury Henry, jun. Beer Retailer
Clewley Charles Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Clewley Daniel, Farmer, Cannock Wood
Craddock Charles, Farmer, Cannock Wood
Craddock Henry, Butcher, Cannock Wood
Craddock Mary A. [Mrs.], Cowkeeper
Cumberledge Alexander, Cowkeeper
Cumberledge Martha [Mrs.], Farmer
Derry Daniel, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Derry Ebenezer, Cowkeeper
Derry Lewis, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Derry Thomas, Beer Retailer, Cannock Wood
Dodd John, House Steward to the Marquess of Anglesey
Foulger Walter, Gamekeeper to the Marquess of Anglesey
Hackwood Lucy, Shopkeeper, Cannock Wood
Harvey Charles, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Hickman Margaret, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Jennings Francis, Chief Accountant, Estate Office
Keeling George, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Kennerley Arthur, Farmer
Littler Jane [Mrs.], Windmill Inn
Littler William, Beer Retailer
Meachem, Isaac, Grocer, Cannock Wood
Newey Arthur, Cowkeeper
Startin James, Farmer
Winterton Joseph Richard, Clerk to Burntwood School Committee, Cannock Wood
Winterton William, Park Gate Inn and Farmer

1940 Kelly's Directory

Jones Rees, Broad Hazels, Chestall
Meachem Isaac, Cannock Wood
Sharples Rev. Lancelot Lloyd Huddleston [vicar]
Wootton Charles, Chestall House

Abberley Samuel, Smallholder
Bailey Robert, Farmer, Cannock Wood
Barker Sidney, Beer Retailer
Boston Harriett [Mrs.], Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Boston Horace, Farmer, Cannock Wood
Bradbury Harmer, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Bradbury Mary, House Agent, Cannock Wood
Clewley Daniel, Farmer, Lodge Hill Farm
Cliffe, John, Farmer, Yew Tree, Tithe Barn and Chorley farms
Cliffe Thomas, Farmer, Chestall
Craddock Herny, Butcher, Cannock Wood
Craddock Percy, Butcher
Cumberledge, Florence, Farmer
Derry Albert, Farmer
Derry Ebenezer, Cowkeeper
Derry Thomas, Beer Retailer, Cannock Wood
Hackwood William, Shopkeeper, Cannoclr Wood
New Inn - Walter Derry, Cannock Wood
Parkgate Inn - Mrs. Ann Bradbury
Price Harold William, Farmer
Price Thomas, Farmer
Red Moor P.H. Arthur Richardson
Robinson William, Insurace Agent, Cannock Wood
Smith Elsie, Shopkeeper, The Stores
Smith James, Cowkeeper, Cannock Wood
Stanfield Alfred, Baker, Chapel Lane
Startin Edwin, Smallholder
Windmill Inn - Charles H. Linney
Winterton Joseph Richards, Estate Agent Cannock Wood

List of Pubs

Anchor Inn
New Inn
Park Gate Inn
Red Moor Inn
Windmill Inn

Genealogy Connections

If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Gentleshaw and Cannock Wood area you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Staffordshire Genealogy.

Sir William Paget of Beaudesert

Henry William Paget - Marquess of Anglesey

Worthington's India Pale Ale [1950's]

Related Websites

Cannock Wood Parish Website
Longdon Parish Website

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Newspaper Articles

"A dispute between relatives regarding the tenancy of land was ventilated at Lichfield County Court on Monday before His Honour Judge H. A. Tucker. As an executor of his aunt Mrs. Deborah Mellor, Robert Henney of "The Laurels," Hayfield Hill, Gentleshaw applied for an order for possession of two acres of land, forming two fields, in Windmill Lane, Gentleshaw. Mr. W. F. Stretton, for plaintiff said upon the death of Mrs. Mellor, Henney was appointed an executor of the estate and as the property was to be sold he wrote to the defendant, Geoffrey Edward Tunnicliffe of Pear Tree Cottage, Gentleshaw, to say that the two fields he had been using would have to be given up. Tunnicliffe replied that he expected twelve notice to expire on March 25th, 1952 and to the effect that he had a tenancy of the land at a rent of £2 12s. per annum.

Plaintiff said Tunnicliffe sent him a year's rent but he returned it. He had not accepted any rent from defendant as the tenant of the land. Replying to Mr. Stephen Brown, for defendant, plaintiff said he had nothing to do with the land in 1947. He knew that Tunnicliffe farmed about 13 acres of which the two acres was part. Previous to 1947 he knew that the land was let to Mr. William Brown but that was terminated and Tunnicliffe then took the land over. He admitted writing to Tunnicliffe saying the land would be sold with vacant possession and that he would like him to have it. Tunnicliffe had made an offer which witness could not accept.

Arthur Henney, father of plaintiff, said after Mr. Brown vacated the land it was not used for a short time and then Tunnicliffe went on to it. Mrs Mellor, witness's sister-in-law, said she had allowed Tunnicliffe to put his cows in the fields but should not accept him as a tenant. He had the land free and she told witness many times she never had any money off Tunnicliffe.

Tunnicllife said Mrs. Mellor was his aunt and when Mr. Brown gave up the land he said it was a great shock to her. She asked what he was prepared to give for the ground if she let it to him and he offered £4 a year. She said if he gave her £12 12s., the same as his father paid for the land before Mr. Brown had the land, he could have it.

Mrs. Catherine Tunnicliffe, wife of defendant, said in March 1949 she remembered her husband giving Mrs. Mellor £2 2s. as rent for the fields and Mrs. Mellor gave him 2s. back to get a drink.

In reply to Mrs. Stretton, witness said she and her husband had a bedroom at Mrs. Mellor's house for ten months but Mrs. Mellor would not accept any rent. She did say they must not take any furniture there.

David Samons of Mill Lane, Gentleshaw, said he had known Mrs. Mellor all his life and she was a frequent visitor to his house which was only 20 to 30 yards away. She told him on one occasion she let Tunnicliffe have the land but did not mention about the amount of the rent. On one occasion she said she had given him the rent back for the work he had done on the hedges.

Mr. Geoffrey Brown submitted that on the evidence it was quite clear rent was paid and a tenancy was agreed with the late Mrs. Mellor. It seemed that the real desire of the plaintiff was to sell the property in the open market with vacant possession. Mrs. Mellor was an aunt of Tunnicliffe and it might be owing to that fact that she did not charge him as great a rent as she might otherwise have done.

Mr. Stretton said as the executor for his client was bound to do his best for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

His Honour said it was alleged by plaintiff that Tunnicliffe was a trespasser and that the land was used by him on licence from Mrs. Mellor but that the licence had been revoked. On the other hand Tunnicliffe said is was not a question of licence but a question of tenancy. Mr. Stretton was quite right in saying it was the plaintiff's duty to do the best he could do for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the estate. It was a question of fact whether the land was held by Tunnicliffe on licence or as a tenant. On the whole he [His Hon.] had come to the conclusion that Mrs. Mellor did let the land to Tunnicliffe and there was a tenancy of £2 12s. a year. He was satisfied by the evidence for defendant that there was a letting and it was not merely a licence. The action must fail because in any event there had not been any notice to quit. There would be judgement for defendant with cost. on Scale 2."
"Relatives in Dispute"
Lichfield Mercury : July 27th 1951 Page 3.

"Ever heard of an animal born to a pure bred Wessex pig that had eight legs, four ears, three eyes, two tails and one head? Neither had Mr. Ray Rostance of Windmill Bank, Gentleshaw, until last Sunday when he helped to deliver a litter. Three of the animals born first were quite normal. Then came the freak. It was stillborn. The animal had seemingly, two bodies from the navel cord. Above the body, it was joined at the shoulders. It was, to all appearances, a Siamese pig, but with three eyes and only one head. Two eyes were in the normal position but the other was on top of the head and in the middle of the ears! The remainder of the litter, two separate piglets, were born normally. The five are doing well. It was the gilt's first farrow and she is twelve months old. Mr. Rostance told a "Mercury" reporter who saw the freak animal which has now been buried, that in his twenty years of pig breeding, he had never seen anything like it before. A sister of the sow killed her first farrow of eight."
"Freak Piglet"
Lichfield Mercury : September 3rd 1954 Page 3.

"One of Gentleshaw's oldest sportsmen, Mr. Ebenezer Derry, of Windmill Bank, died in Burton Hospital on December 26th. He was in his 83rd year. Mr. Derry was playing member of Beaudesert Cricket Club for 45 years and a member of the club until his death. He was well-known and had lived all his life in Gentleshaw. The funeral took place at Christ Church, Gentleshaw, on Wednesday of last week with the Rev. J. K. Colman officiating. The bearers were three members of the cricket club, Messrs. Harold Tunnicliffe, C. Birch and Horace Tunnicliffe and Mr. Harold Price, a friend of the family. There were many beautiful floral tributes from relatives and friends."
"Forty-Five Years a Cricketer"
Lichfield Mercury : January 9th 1953 Page 5.

"A pair of tomtits have "hit" upon rather a strange spot in which to build their nest at Cannock Wood, having chosen a letter box in the door Mr. R. Street's office at the wood-pits of the Cannock and Rugeley Colliery. Although Mr. Street thrice destroyed the nest, the birds would not leave, and several were laid in the bare box. Eggs were, however, accidentally broken, in consequence of the workmen at the colliery dropping their keys into it and Mr. Street decided that the birds had forsaken their home, when to his surprise some days ago, discovered upon looking into the letter box, that a neat little nest had been constructed, and contained eight eggs. The birds have since been allowed the use of the box, and do not seem to be afraid of anyone. The space through which the birds entered the box is only 5-8ths of an inch wide."
"Bird Nest in a Post Box"
Lichfield Mercury : June 7th 1889 Page 8.