History on the village of Hoar Cross in the county of Staffordshire. Research is augmented with photographs, details of licensees, stories of local folklore, census data, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.



 

Hoar Cross
Hoar Cross

Background Information
Despite the relatively small size of this place, I have created a separate page for Hoar Cross as it was formed into its own ecclesiastical parish in 1874. Prior to this the hamlet was partly in the Newborough liberty and the civil parish of Yoxall. It is not the easiest of places to research and if you go way back then you'll need to dig into the archives of Abbots Bromley, Hamstall Ridware and Hanbury. Historically, the name has appeared as Horcros and Harecros, and is thought to have been the convergence of the four wards of the ancient Needwood Forest, though this has been questioned by those who believe that it was one of the four crosses marking the boundary of Burton Abbey.

I have passed through Hoar Cross on bicycle on a number of occasions as the terrain is excellent for two-wheeled speeding. However, on a more leisurely sojourn I have stopped to take a detailed look at the buildings. And anyone with an interest in architecture is sure to be overcome with elation here in Hoar Cross.

Hoar Cross Hall [1950]

Hoar Cross Hall once belonged to the Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury but passed to the Meynell family who rebuilt it between 1862-71. Designed by Henry Clutton, it was constructed in the Jacobean style of Temple Newsam, the seat of the Ingram family near Leeds. The connection being that, in 1782, Hugo Meynell married Elizabeth Ingram Shepherd, and their son took the name Hugo Charles Meynell-Ingram. In 1863 their grandson married Emily Charlotte, eldest daughter of Sir Charles Wood, 1st Viscount Halifax. They were responsible for the reconstruction of the hall which today features a symmetrical garden front with three canted bays, three gables, and large mullioned and transomed windows.

The last Meynell to reside at Hoar Cross Hall was Colonel Hugo Meynell. He moved to Newborough in 1952 and the building stood empty for a number of years. In 1970 the hall was acquired by the Bickerton Jones family who restored much of the building and added several collections of armour. William and Gwynth Bickerton Jones once claimed to have seen the ghost of a young woman dressed in Victorian-style clothing in an upstairs room.

The hall was used as a venue for medieval banquets and antiques fairs for a period. In 1991 the building was converted into a Health Spa Resort.

Hoar Cross - Church of Holy Angels [1938]

The Church of Holy Angels next to the hall will take your breath away, such is the opulence of its detail. It was designed by George Frederick Bodley who, in the same decade, built another superb church at Pendlebury in South Lancashire. Indeed, the art historian Nikolaus Pevsner wrote that "both are masterly, but there could be no greater contrast. Pendlebury is austere, Hoar Cross is luxuriant; Pendlebury is blunt, Hoar Cross exceedingly refined; Pendlebury high original, Hoar Cross essentially derivative. At Pendlebury, Bodley meant to create something new, at Hoar Cross he intended to show what perfection was obtainable within the rubrics of English late medieval decoration and architecture."

Emily Charlotte and Hugo Francis Meynell Ingram

One of the key reasons Bodley could achieve his vision at Hoar Cross was the blank cheque handed to him by Emily Charlotte who commissioned him to build a mausoleum for her husband Hugo Francis Meynell Ingram who died in a riding accident in 1871. He is pictured here in a portrait by Sir Francis Grant. He was originally entombed at St. Peter's Church in Yoxall but moved when the Church of Holy Angels was completed and dedicated by the Bishop of Lichfield on April 22nd 1876. Following his death, Emily Charlotte was reputed to be the richest heiress in England. She spared no money in building this memorial to her husband.

Hoar Cross - Interior of the Church of Holy Angels [1938]

The building's detail is remarkable and includes marble floors and intricately carved walls. After visiting the church, Sir John Betjeman was moved to write: "The church of the Holy Angels is the masterpiece of its late Victorian architect, George F. Bodley. The stalwart pink sandstone tower dominates the leafy hilltop. The tall nave, choir and transepts, so chaste and regular outside, make the stately interior all the more imposing because of its rich contrast with the exterior. It is, as David Peace described it 'a perfect association of splendour and intimacy architecturally expressed.' This is because the green, blue and gold stained glass by Kempe, the carved oak benches and screens, paved floors and sandstone walls blend into a perfect church interior of late Victorian vigour and hope."

George Frederick Bodley

Born in 1827, George Frederick Bodley was a pupil of George Gilbert Scott. His other designs between 1860 to 1870 include Brighton's Saint Michael's Church and chapels in the Cotswolds. Between 1869 and 1898 he worked closely with his partner, Thomas Garner, with whom he designed the churches of Holy Angels, St. Augustine, Pendlebury and All Saints in Cambridge. Independently, he built churches at Clumber and Ecclestone and Community Church, Cowley, Oxford. He also undertook work at Oxford at Magdalen College and Christ Church and at Cambridge. His other works include the cathedral at Hobart, Tasmania.

Although the whole interior is sumptuous, it is the carvings of the Stations of the Cross which are considered the outstanding decorations. They were carved by two old woodworkers in Antwerp named DeWint and Boeck, and then coloured by Messrs. Powell using a technique Emily Charlotte had admired in the Marienkirche at Danzig. The embroidery and vestments of the church include a Chasuble said to have belonged to Pope Gregory XI who died in 1378. It's just another incredible aspect of this church.

The memorials of Hugo Francis Meynell Ingram and Emily Charlotte have been placed in the Chantry Chapel. The tomb of the husband is a recumbent figure in white alabaster in the uniform of the Staffordshire Yeomanry of which he was Commanding Officer. Over the tomb is a richly-carved stone canopy with figures of angels above it. To the right lies the tomb of Emily Charlotte and at her feet lies her faithful little dog. At the foot are the figures of the Blessed Virgin and Child with angels on either side and underneath the words "Make them to be numbered with thy Saints in glory everlasting" and at the base "Pray for the soul of Emily Charlotte Meynell Ingram who built this church to the greater glory of God and in pious memory of her husband."
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Genealogy Connections
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Seighford area you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Staffordshire Genealogy.

Newspaper Articles
Robert Taylor [21], miner. who at the Stafford Assizes, on the 9th ult., was sentenced to death for the wilful murder of a poor woman named Mary Kidd, at Hoar Cross, on the 23rd November, was on Tuesday morning privately executed within the walls of the County Gaol, at Stafford. The circumstances of the atrocious murder which Taylor committed must be freen in the reconciliation of our readers, and therefore it will only be necessary to give a brief recapitulation of them. On the afternoon of Monday, the 23rd November last, Mary Kidd, the wife of a labourer, living at Hoar Cross, had occasion to visit the village of Yoxall, and she took with her the daughter of a neighbour, Sarah Ann Hollis, a little girl eight years of age. Returning in the evening, Mrs Kidd and her companion reached a wood at Coppice Plain, where a man was seen seated on a gate. This man prroved to be Taylor. Mrs did not know him, but she spoke to him as she passed, and asked him if he was going to sleep there. He replied that he was, and Mrs Kidd then advised him to go home and warm himself. The rejoinder of the man was to the effect that he had no home, and Mrs Kidd went away. Before she had gone many yards the man overtook her and suddenly demanded half-a-crown. Two-pence was given him, and having put the money in his pocket, he suddenly seized the unfortunate woman and with a sharp pocket knife cut her throat. She at once fell on the road, and Taylor, stooping over her, again inflicted cuts upon her throat. Whether the ruffian would have proceeded to offer violence to the little girl cannot be known, as just at that instant the sound of carriage wheels was heard, and he leaped over a gate and disappeared through the wood. The little girl lifted up the poor woman's head, and finding that she was dead ran terrified away. In a few moments, however, the driver of the approaching vehicle - the Rev. R. J. Mumford, vicar of Newborough, saw the woman lying in the road, and, having ascertained that life was extinct, he drove off to give the alarm. At eleven o'clock next morning the murderer was apprehended at Burton-on-Trent, and, on being charged with wilful murder, behaved in a remarkably cool and heartless manner, remarking that his guilt would have to be proved, he enquired if the woman was dead. On learning that she was, coolly observed, "Then I suppose they will hang me, or someone else, for it." His guilt was clearly established at the trial by the most convincing testimony, and Mr Justice Brett, in sentencing him to death, gave him to understand that there was no hope of escape from his doom. On this occasion, as at the time of his apprehension, the prisoner behaved in a most callous and unconcerned manner, and the sentence of death did not for a moment disturb his equanimity. This extraordinary conduct he continued until the end of his life. During the time that he stayed in Stafford gaol the chaplain, the Ref. W. S. Eastman, endeavoured by all means in their power to impress him with the responsibility of his position. The culprit listened to their exhortations, it is true, but he never seemed much impressed or stricken with remorse. He has, however, throughout admitted the justice of his sentence, and owned that he murdered the unhappy woman. In compliance with custom Taylor has been allowed a rather liberal dietary since his condemnation, and he availed himself of the concession to the fullest extent. His appetite seemed to be insatiable, and the meals he consumed were enormous. He was further allowed two pipes of tobacco a day, which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy. On Monday evening the culprit went to bed at eight o'clock. For about two hours he seemed restless and uneasy, but he at length dropped into a heavy sleep. This continued until four o'clock on Tuesday morning, when he rose. Shortly afterwards the two gaol chaplains arrived, and a few minutes past five o'clock Taylor, accompanied by Chidley [the chief warder] and another warder, attended chapel. Mr Vincent then baptised him, giving him the name of Robert, which name he had always adopted. The sacrament was next administered to him, and the chaplains prayed with him for some time. Leaving the chapel, Taylor was conducted back to his cell, and he then asked to be allowed a good breakfast. This meal he took at twenty minutes past six o'clock, and the quantity of food he consumed was astonishing - over a pound of beef, a like quantity of bread, and a quart of cocoa. The chaplains then resumed their ministrations. About twenty minutes to eight o'clock Taylor was informed that his last few moments were rapidly approaching, and he was then handed over to William Marwood, or Horncastle, the executioner, who had arrived at the gaol on the previous evening. Whilst the culprit was undergoing the process of pinioning the chaplains continued to encourage him with sentences from the Scriptures. He, however, showed no signs of faltering. He was, perhaps, rather paler than usual, but he neither trembled nor uttered any exclamation of fear. At a few minutes to eight o'clock the procession to the gallows was formed. Mr Mountford, deputy governor of the gaol, with Mr Nevitt, the representative of the Sheriff of the County, led the way, they being followed by three warders - Chidley, Plimmer, and Stauton - the last-named carring long thin black wands. Next came the culprit, walking between the two chaplains, the executioner being close behind him, and the rear being brought up by Captain Disney, deputy chief constable, with several gaol warders. As the procession slowly proceeded along the open walk leading to the gallows, several of the party shivered from the bitter cold, but the culprit showed no such sign. He walked steadily, his body being erect, and his head turned slightly towards the chaplain, was was repeating part of the burial service. Taylor was a man of short stature, his height being 5ft. 4in. He was, however, strongly built, and evidently possessed of great muscular power. He was dressed on Tuesday morning in a suit of his own clothes - a pair of old corduroy trousers, a black waistcoat, very old and threadbare, and a short black jacket, his head being bare. At length the procession drew up at the feet of the steps leading to the scaffold just as the clock was striking eight. This erections has already been described. It is formed in the shape of an oblong box, the dimensions being about 10ft. by 7ft. and 6ft. in height. From the ends rise two straight strong beams of wood, which support a cross-beam. Beneath this is the drop - a large trap door, which fails on the depression of an iron lever. The rope was fastened tot the centre of the cross-beam. It was a new cord, of great strength, and very long, so as to give the body a fall of at least five feet. The entire structure, which is painted black, is on wheels, so that it may be moved about from place to place. On Tuesday morning it was wheeled into a kind of yard at the north end of the gaol, immediately within the boundary wall. On the pause being made, each of the chaplains shook Taylor by the hand, giving him a parting benediction. He made no reply other than a short, half-careless nod of the head, and, as soon as the leave-taking was over, appeared desirous of meeting his fate as quickly as possible. Without assistance, he walked sharply up the steps of the scaffold, and taking his place on the centre of the drop, immediately below the dangling cord, looked round with all his old unconcern. Marwood now strapped together his legs in the usual manner, the chaplains continuing to read the sentences of the Scriptures. Next a white cap was produced from the executioner's breast pocket and drawn over Taylor's face. His voice was now heard for the first and last time. Clearly and deliberately came forth the request to the executioner, "Snap me off quick." Marwood placed the noose around his neck of the condemned man, hastily retired from the drop, and, without waiting for signal of any kind, pressed down the lever. Instantaneously the drop fell with a dull, heavy sound, and the body of the unhappy man, making the length of the rope, was brought up with a terrific jerk. Slowly it then swung to and fro. There was no other movement. The man must have died instantaneously. Even as he hung suspended it could be seen that his neck was dislocated by the fearful strain cast upon it. The chaplains who had continued their ministrations until the moment that the drop fell, then left the place, and a black flag hoisted over the chief entrance to the gaol alone proclaimed to the world that a murderer had gone to his last account. At a quarter past eight o'clock the gaol surgeon Mr C. H. Greaves, examined the body, and according to form declared that life was extinct. Three-quarters of an Three-quarters of an hour later the body was taken down, placed in a shell, and removed for the Coroner's inquest. This took place at ten o'clock, before Mr W. Morgan, the usual verdict being returned. The remains of Robert Taylor were interred in a part of the gaol premises specially set apart for murderers. A small crowd, consisting chiefly of boys, had assembled round the entrance to the gaol with the object of seeing the black flag hoisted. They, however, conducted themselves quietly. The last execution at Stafford was on the 13th August 1872, when a man named Edwards of Willenhall was hanged for the murder of his wife by beating her with a poker."
"Execution of the Hoar Cross Murderer"
County Express 9th January 1875
 

Trade Directories
1860 Post Office Directory
Hoar Cross is a small hamlet, partly in Newborough liberty, and partly in the parish of Yoxhall, Uttoxeter county court district; from Yoxhall about. 3 miles north-west, and the like distance south-east from Abbots Bromley. Hoar Cross Hall, the seat of H. C. Meynell Ingram, Esq., is beautifully situate on an eminence, which commands a fine view of the surrounding country, which is well wooded and picturesque. The population is 230, with 680 acres.
Ingram, H. C. Meynell, Esq.. Hoar Cross Hall
Collier William, Shoulder of Mutton
Ironmonger, Edward, farmer
Leedham, Phoebe [Mrs.], farmer
Lester, Thomas, shopkeeper
Lindsey, Samuel, tailor
Mills, Thomas, farmer, Gullet's farm
Mosedale, Charlotte [Mrs.], farmer
Pott, William, farmer
Prince, John, shoemaker
Ruston, James, blacksmith
Sumner, Sarah [Mrs.], farmer
Taswell, Thomas, farmer
Whynam, Thomas, wheelwright
Letters through Rugeley

1896 Kelly's Directory
Hoar Cross, a small hamlet 3 miles north of Yoxall, the same distance south-east from Abbot's Bromley, 6 south from Sudbury station on the North Staffordshire and Great Northern railways and 10 north-by-east from Lichfield, partly in Newborough liberty and partly in the civil parish of Yoxall, was formed into an ecclesiastical parish from Yoxall, Newborough and Abbot's Bromley, October 20th, 1874, and is in the Burton division of the county, partly in North Offlow hundred and partly in Uttoxeter union, Burton-upon-Trent petty sessional division, Lichfield county court district, rural deanery of Lichfield, archdeaconry of Stafford and diocese of Lichfield. The church of the Holy Angels, standing on an eminence, and erected in 1872-6 by the Hon. Mrs. Meynell-Ingram, in memory of her husband, Hugo Francis Meynell-Ingram esq. M.P. [d. 1871], but not yet consecrated, is a cruciform building; of red stone in the Decorated style of the 14th century, from designs by Mr. G. F. Bodley and consists of chancel with chantry chapel, nave of two bays, aisles, transepts, north and south perches and an embattled central tower, about 110 feet high, containing a clock and 6 bells: opposite the south door is a niche with a figure of St. Michael: the tower arch is filled by a high screen of oak, beautifully carved and gilded, and similar screen work uncloses the side chapel and choir vestry: there is a stone reredos, and on the south side of the chancel, beneath a magnificent arch, is an altar-tomb of alabaster, adorned with the shields of the families of Meynell, Ingram and Wood, and with niches inclosing figures of angels, south of this monument is a chantry chapel : the windows of the Chancel and chantry chapel and three west windows are stained, and there are 300 sittings. The register dales from the year 1874. The living is a vicarage, gross yearly value 150, with residence, in the gift of the Hon. Mrs. Meynell-Ingram, and held since 1885 by the Rev. William John Knox Little M. A. of Trinity College, Cambridge, and canon of Worcester. An orphanage for 12 boys, promoted and supported by the Hon. Mrs. Meynell'-Ingram, was opened here in April, 1888, and is under the direction of the vicar. Hoar Cross Hall, the seat of the Hon. Mrs. Meynell-Ingram, lady of the manor and principal landowner, is beautifully situated on an eminence, which commands a fine view of the surrounding country, in the midst of well-wooded and picturesque. grounds which adjoin the church. The soil is clay; subsoil, clay. The land is in pasture for dairy purposes. The population in 1871 was 314.
Post Office -  Thomas Lester, sub-postmaster. Letters from Burton-on-Trent at 8 a.m.; dispatched at 5.55 pm;. Sundays, 10.40 a.m. Postal orders are issued here, but not paid. Newborough is the nearest money order & telegraph office
National School [mixed], enlarged in 1883, for 100 children; average attendance, 88; Matthew G. Whitfield, master
Carrier - John Rushton, to Burton, on Thursday.
Arden, John Siward, Hill Side house
Little Rev. Canon William John Knox M.A. Vicarage
Littleton Capt, the Hon. Algernon Charles
Meynell-Ingrarn Hon. Mrs. Hoar Cross Hall
Rendell Rev. James Carter
Briggs, William Henry, farmer
Cotterell, Frederick, cowkeeper
Hill, Charles, farmer, Benteley Park
Mosedale, William, farmer
Pott, William, farmer
Pott William [Mrs] farmer
Rushton, John, blacksmith & carrier
Rushton, Martha ['Mrs.], farmer
Townsend , John, farmer
Watts, Charles, farmer

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