Some history on the county of Staffordshire

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Staffordshire Places

Map of Staffordshire

County Map of Staffordshire by Thomas Moule [c.1830]

The county was first recorded in 1016 when it was known as Staeffordscir. The name of Stafford comes from the Old English 'ford by the landing place' [staeff being landing place].

Topography

Staffordshire is bordered by Cheshire in the north, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire and Worcestershire to the south, and Shropshire in the west. The hills to the north of the county are a continuation of the Derbyshire moors and, in places, rise to 1,500ft above the River Trent. In-between are some of the most beautiful valleys in the land - the Manifold, Milldale and Dovedale. A wonderfully varied county, the northern part of Staffordshire is known as The Potteries, the middle is dominated by Cannock Chase and the southern part is occupied by the region called The Black Country.

History

Prior to the Roman conquest, the county was occupied and inhabited by the tribes of the Cornavii in the east and the Ordovices in the west. In the 7th and 8th centuries, Staffordshire formed part of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia and was ruled by Penda, a champion of heathenism against Christianity and later by Offa. A cathedral was built at Lichfield in 669 and the see rose to become second only in importance to Canterbury. Lichfield was also the location of Richard II's imprisonment [though he was also held at Pontefract]. He escaped by jumping into the castle's moat but was recaptured and carried to his death. In 1459, during the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Blore Heath ended in defeat for the Lancastrians, despite the Yorkists numbering only half as many men. It was industry that shaped the county of today - The Potteries, the region known also as 'Five Towns' where pottery has been made since the 17th century. Rich coal and iron resources lead to rapid development and industrialisation in the south of the county and earned the region the name of The Black Country. Wool formed the basis of Wolverhampton's earlier wealth - the moorlands to the north of the town were prime sheep pasture.

Landmarks

To the north, the valleys of Dovedale, the Manifold and the Churnet offer some of the loveliest scenery to be found anywhere in England. Cannock Chase is an area of 'outstanding natural beauty.' Conifers, silver birches, heathland and little valleys cover a wide area of countryside that was for centuries a royal hunting forest. Today a large communications tower looks down on the German Military cemetery where the dead of two wars lie buried, including the crew of the first Zeppelin shot down in World War One. To the south, Kinver Edge is a locus for walkers because it is here that three long distance footpaths meet - the Staffordshire Way, the Worcestershire Way and the North Worcestershire Path. The views from here are quite spectacular.

Monuments

Lichfield Cathedral - England's only medieval three-spired cathedral. Tamworth Castle - a Norman castle built on a mound raised in 913 by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, Tutbury Castle - Mary Queen of Scots was twice imprisoned in this fortress built on a steep rock. Chillington Hall - the seat of the Giffard family since the 12th century. Alton Towers - a neo-Gothic mansion that was the home of the Earls of Shrewsbury and now a leisure park attracting over two million visitors every year. Wightwick Manor - a half-timbered manor house built between 1887 and 1893. Eccleshall Castle - the remains of the 13th century castle includes a nine-sided tower. Moseley Old Hall - an Elizabethan house in which Charles II was sheltered following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester. Shugborough Hall - a white colonnaded mansion home of the Anson family, Earls of Lichfield, since the 17th century.

Photographs of Staffordshire

Click here for more information on Bloxwich in Staffordshire

Click here for more information on Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire

Click here for more information on Wwednesbury in Staffordshire

Contemporary Photographs

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