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Bradshaw’s Guide

Stafford

Stafford is the capital, but by no means the largest town, of Staffordshire, at the termination of the Trent Valley Loop, by which it is 132 miles from London. Population, 12,532, Two members are returned. Boots and shoes are the chief articles of manufacture. Near to a ford on the Sow, Elfleda or Ethelfleda, Alfred’s daughter, a great virago who reigned over Mercia, built a castle in the year 913. This was improved by the Normans, but reduced in the civil war; some remains of the keep are yet seen at Stafford Castle, a seat of Lord Stafford, 1½ mile to the west.

It is a long straggling town, with short streets branching out of the main thoroughfare (which bear curious names), where the best buildings stand, not far from the two parish churches. St. Mary’s is a venerable early Gothic cross, embattled with an octagonal tower of moderate height. The font is said to be very old. St. Chad’s contains some Norman work. The Shire Hall, a handsome building in Market Square, consists of the Courts and offices, and a spacious assembly room. The Town or Guildhall, built in 1853, is also in Market Square, and has an excellent covered market behind. Here it was, at the Spring assizes 1854, that the amiable and accomplished Judge Talfourd died on the bench, in the act of addressing the grand jury, and was carried out in his scarlet robes on the shoulders of his friends, before a crowded audience. The Grammar School, in Gaol Square, was endowed by Edward VI. The County General Infirmary is a large building in Foregate Street, with no pretensions to beauty, except a handsome portico. To the north, in the suburbs, are the county gaol, built in 1793, recently enlarged, where William Palmer, the sporting doctor, was executed, June 14th, 1S56; and the county asylum, on a pleasant site of 30 acres. About a mile to the east of the town has recently been erected a fine building, known as the Coton Hill Institution, for the reception of insane persons of the higher and middle classes. Izaak Walton, the father of angling, was born here in 1593. In the neighbourhood are the following seats:—Rowley, R, W. Hand, Esq.; Seighford Hall, F. Eld, Esq.; and Ronton (or Ronton) Abbey, a seat of the Earl of Lichfield, now occupied by J. B. Elley, Esq.; some remains of a cell founded by the Fitz-Noels in Henry II.’s time are left. East of Stafford, up and down the Trent, are—Sandon Hall, the seat of the Earl of Harrowby; Tixall Sir A Constable, Bart., a modern seat, near the gateway of an older one, in a large park; Ingestre, Earl Shrewsbury and Talbot; Shugborough, another seat of the Lichfield family, having a pillar to Lord Anson, the celebrated navigator (who was born here in 1697), in the grounds, which lie in an elbow made by the Trent and Sow; Wolseley, the Hon. W. Warren Vernon; Teddesley Park; Lord Hatherton’s seat; Beaudesert, the Marquis of Anglesea. Between Trent, and Dove are Blithfield, Chartley Castle, and Bagots Park.

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Places nearby

  • Shropshire : Shrewsbury

    This fine old capital of Shropshire, and parliamentary town, is 42 miles beyond Birmingham.

  • Staffordshire : Lichfield

    Lichfield, a small cathedral town and parliamentary borough on the Trent Valley line.