Pictures of Stafford
Set in a landscape of contrasts with constantly changing scenery from the Royal hunting forests of Cannock Chase to the breweries of Burton, it is pleasurable to come across the charming town of Stafford, a town that is lively, vibrant with colour and has a matchless variety of interesting buildings and historic places to see and explore.
From the moment you set foot in Stafford it is apparent that here is a town proud of its history and heritage, 800 years have passed since the town was granted its first charter by King John, but legend decrees its history extends even further into the mists of time, with the town probably being founded around 700 AD.
However, today we are concerned with all that has been preserved, this includes the attractive ruins of Stafford Castle seen on a gently rising mound. The castle was built by William the Conqueror and has dominated the town for over 900 years. It has a turbulent history, but now rests at peace, providing both the towns-folk and visitors with an exciting place to explore, learn a little of, and enjoy panoramic hill-top views and a gentle walk around a sweetly scented medieval herb garden.
Stafford's ancient High House is one of the largest remaining timber-framed houses in the country. It has connections with Royalty, King Charles I stayed there en-route for Shrewsbury in 1642. Further to commemorating this event, the house has furniture and objects reflecting the times in which it was built. This is also the home of the museum of the Staffordshire Yeomanry. The Ancient High House is a wonderful building, full of timeless charm and atmosphere which is well worth seeing.
St.Mary's Castle Church is as the name suggests close to the ruins of Stafford Castle. The church dates only from the 1840's, but stands on a spot where there has been a place of worship for more than 1,000 years. It has many interesting interior features and within its churchyard is the grave of W.G. Bagnall, whose Staffordshire steam locomotive factory was once of world renown.
The other Saint Mary's church stands in the centre of Stafford, this is large, cruciform in structure with a strong octagonal tower. It was formerly a royal free chapel and a collegiate of the 12th-century, when it would have had a dean and twelve cannons.
Still to be seen in the town is the foliage covered handsome building founded as the home of King Edward VI Grammar School for Boys. This has become amalgamated with Stafford Girls High School to form what is now known as King Edward VI High School.
In Stafford's maze of winding streets there exists a wealth of picturesque historic inns, these include the noted Bear Inn, in Greengate Street, the Coach and Horses on Mill Bank, and the Vine, with its handsome bay windows and pretty hanging baskets can be found in Salter Street. Throughout the town there is a fine array of Tudor buildings, with other properties of a lesser age to be found sitting prettily along the town's rambling side streets.
There is no shortage of "green lungs" Victoria Park is a splendid place to visit. The River Sow, covered with a series of delightful arched bridges runs right through the park which offers superb trees, spectacular flower beds and plenty of places to rest and picnic. At the park's eastern entrance visitors can see an old mill with water-wheels.
Worth a mention is that Stafford was the birthplace of Izaak Walton, the world's most renowned angler, he was born here in 1593 and despite leaving later for London, he never forgot his native town. Lying close to Stone is a delightful thatched cottage which was once Newton's home, this is now restored and is open a museum telling of the life and times of the man who was the author of the revered "Compleat Angler" it further shows a collection of fishing tackle, trout flies, rods and reels.
Not everything here is ancient, there is much that is modern, particularly the fine University buildings and shopping complexes which offer sufficient shops to satisfy the most demanding shopper. Visitors will also find excellent hotels, some converted from ancient manor houses and others of more recent times. A good choice of places for refreshment awaits you, this ranges from pleasant tea-rooms, cafe's, restaurants and fish n'chips. Plenty of pubs and a variety of places for entertainment can all be sought out within easy reach of each other.
The town has a county showground which hosts rural events, it also stages annual festivals which include a Shakespeare festival and a Film week.
Hopefully, this is sufficient to tempt you to visit Stafford for yourself, for apart from its obvious charms it is also an ideal place from which to explore the rich heritage of the potteries by touring the factories of Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, and Spode. In the surrounding countryside there are rivers and canal's, Shugborough Hall, a National Trust property is close to hand, and for the race-goer there is a fine course at close-by Uttoxeter.