A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 5, East Cuttlestone Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
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THE HUNDRED OF CUTTLESTONE - EASTERN DIVISION
BASWICH OR BERKSWICH
The ancient parish of Baswich, lying immediately east-south-east of Stafford, contained Baswich with Weeping Cross, Walton and Milford, the township of Brocton and the joint township of Acton Trussell and Bednall. Acton Trussell and Bednall were severed from Baswich for civil purposes by the mid-17th century. (fn. 1) Their history will be treated after that of Baswich.
The boundaries of the ancient parish of Baswich, after the separation of Acton Trussell and Bednall, as defined in 1671 and 1796, (fn. 2) were on the west the River Penk at Radford Bridge, on the north the River Sow, and on the east the line of the Sherbrook valley running southward across Cannock Chase to an old waymark known as Cank Thorn (fn. 3) near the war cemetery. At this point the three ancient parishes of Rugeley, Penkridge, and Cannock converge with Baswich.
This area was divided by 1666 into two separate constablewicks, (fn. 4) Walton and Brocton, the constables being appointed in the court of the manor of Haywood as late as 1841. (fn. 5) The surviving accounts of the overseers of the poor for the constablewick of Walton, which included Baswich and Radford, date from 1699 (fn. 6) and those for the constablewick of Brocton from 1759. (fn. 7) The constable's accounts for Walton date from 1699 and those for Brocton from 1736. (fn. 8) Baswich and Brocton have formed separate civil parishes since 1871. (fn. 9) The civil parish of Baswich was encroached upon by the extension of Stafford Borough as far as Stockton Lane in 1934, (fn. 10) so that its area in 1951 was 1,194 acres with a population of 1,096, while the area of the civil parish of Brocton was then 2,318 acres and its population 572. (fn. 11)
Two important trunk roads cross the parishes. The road from Lichfield to Stafford enters at Satnall Hills and runs due west to Stafford crossing the River Penk at Radford Bridge. This road was of great importance in the Middle Ages as is shown by the fact that the liability for the maintenance of Radford Bridge fell upon the hundred. (fn. 12) The bridge was rebuilt in 1771 and 1799, (fn. 13) and by 1830 responsibility for its maintenance had been fixed on the county. (fn. 14) It was again rebuilt c. 1825 and is of stone ashlar with three rusticated elliptical arches, between which are paired Tuscan columns supporting a modillion cornice. According to Dugdale, the river marked the western limit of the forest of Cannock until the 17th century. In King John's time Hugh de Loges, the royal forester of Cannock, held his fee by the serjeanty of meeting the Earl of Chester at Radford Bridge and conveying him across the forest. (fn. 15) This Lichfield-Stafford road is joined at Weeping Cross, where an island at the junction is preserved as a war memorial, by the road from Birmingham running via Cannock to Stafford, Newcastle under Lyme, and the north. The Industrial Revolution has made this road one of the most heavily burdened in the country. From Weeping Cross a minor road leads north, past the church and over the River Sow to the site of the Augustinian priory of St. Thomas (in St. Mary's parish, Stafford, Pirehill hundred), and on to Weston upon Trent, Chartley, and Uttoxeter. St. Thomas Bridge carrying this road over the Sow was a county bridge by 1830. (fn. 16) It appears to be contemporary with Radford Bridge and has a single elliptical arch and a parapet terminating in small octagonal piers. (fn. 17) The main line of the former L.M.S.R. crosses the northern tip of the parish of Baswich. Milford and Brocton Station was opened for passenger traffic in 1877, and for goods traffic in 1882; it was closed for passenger traffic in 1950 but in 1956 was still used for goods. (fn. 18)
The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, which follows the line of the River Penk to the confluence with the Sow where it turns eastwards alongside the Sow to the terminus at Haywood, was constructed under an Act of 1766 (fn. 19) and completed in 1772. (fn. 20) There was formerly a wharf at Radford Bridge, connected with Stafford by a tramway, where, it was stated in 1851, considerable business in coal, lime, &c., was carried on. (fn. 21) The canal is largely disused but still navigable.
Baswich church stands in an isolated position at the extreme northern tip of the parish, and there has never been a village to which the name Baswich as a geographical term can be applied, the old centres of population in the parish being the villages of Walton and Brocton. Several old houses remain in both Walton and Brocton (see below) but in the former, which was still expanding rapidly in 1956, most of the building has taken place since 1920. In Pool Lane, leading to Milford, there are several larger houses of the 19th and 20th centuries, and further building was in progress in 1956. Sawpit Lane is entirely built up with 20th-century houses, many of them semi-detached. There are three pairs of council houses in Oldacre Lane dating from c. 1950, and the police house in Sawpit Lane was built in 1949. (fn. 22) The school and the vicarage are at Walton. At Weeping Cross, north of the church and at the junction of the Lichfield to Stafford and the Cannock to Stafford roads, a wooden cross stood in Edward VI's reign (fn. 23) and by 1747 an inn of that name (fn. 24) on a site now occupied by Baswich House (see below). Weeping Cross became a favourite residential area in the 19th century and by 1834 there were 'several neat villas' on or near the Lichfield road. (fn. 25) Ribbon development took place here, mainly between the two world wars, down Baswich Lane almost as far as the church, down Stockton Lane in Radford Rise, and along the Lichfield and Cannock roads as far as the borough boundary. Since the Second World War large compact blocks of detached and semi-detached houses have been erected here, so that the greater part of the present parishes of Baswich and Brocton form a dormitory for Stafford.
Milford, now a hamlet in the south-east of the parish on both sides of the Lichfield road, first occurs in the late 18th century and grew up around the Milford Hall estate, many of the cottages along the main road being built by the Levett family from the late 18th century onwards. (fn. 26)
Despite modern development Brocton and Baswich still preserve a certain rural setting, particularly Brocton where there are over 2,000 acres of uninclosed uplands on Cannock Chase and of common at Milford, acquired in 1956 by the Staffordshire County Council from the Earl of Lichfield. (fn. 27) In the First World War there were extensive army camps in Brocton, a military burial ground for both British and German troops being consecrated there in 1917 on land given by the Earl of Lichfield. (fn. 28) During the Second World War the area of the Chase known as Anson's Bank was used as a bombing range. (fn. 29)
About 1890 Stafford Salt and Alkali Company opened the Common Salt Works on Stafford Common, north of the town. About 1900 the works were extended by a building at Baswich so that the canal could be used, and a wharf was then constructed. The brine was brought by pipeline down Greengate Street, supplying the Brine Baths which were opened at this date, and thence along the canal to Baswich. Salt continued to be manufactured at Baswich by the open-pan method until 1945 when Messrs. Geo. Hamlett & Sons, Cheshire, the Stafford Salt and Alkali Company, and Messrs. Manger & Son (Crown Salt Works, Stafford Common) put up the capital for a new salt-works, Vacuum Salt Ltd. This stands in Baswich Lane, opposite the old salt-works, and uses vacuum pans. A second pipeline from Stafford Common was laid to supply these works. In 1950 the three companies concerned merged as Amasal. (fn. 30)
Stafford Concrete Buildings Ltd. established their factory in Baswich Lane opposite the new saltworks in 1950 and 1951. It manufactures the smaller type of prefabricated building, using sand and gravel from Brocton. (fn. 31) Brick-making was formerly carried on in Brocton in 1851 (fn. 32) and there is now a large disused brick-works just west of the Cannock road. On the Chase the Bunter Pebble Beds are worked for gravel.
In 1801 about 781 acres of arable land were under cultivation in Baswich, roughly 197 acres sown with wheat, 298 acres with barley, 165 acres with oats, 27 acres with potatoes, 2 acres with peas, 3 acres with beans, 96 acres with turnips or rape, 3 acres with rye. (fn. 33) Most of the agricultural land is now used as pasture, especially near the Sow and Penk on account of flooding. In 1297 or 1298 some 180 acres of demesne lay in open fields, the largest block, 48 acres, being in 'campo de Halseyley' i.e. Haseley. (fn. 34) In 1357 there were three open fields in Baswich. (fn. 35)
In the old hamlet now called Walton on the Hill there are several houses dating from before the 19th century. Parts of nos. 9 and 11 were formerly one timber-framed house and the building retains original beams, a large fireplace, and a four-centred door head. No. 14 is a thatched house of three bays with some of its timber-framing still exposed externally. It has large back-to-back fireplaces between the two west bays. Congreve House opposite, the home of Sir William Congreve, (fn. 36) is a Tshaped brick house dating from the late 17th century. (fn. 37) Next to No. 14 is the former smithy. Walton Lodge and the vicarage were built in the early 19th century and both enlarged later. The former infant school near the vicarage is now used as a parish room; (fn. 38) there are older cottages adjoining it on the east side. The village hall is a wooden building erected c. 1933 on land given by Mrs. G. Haszard. (fn. 39) There is one old timber-framed cottage on the west side of Stockton Lane.
A timber-framed house, of which only the stone chimneys are still standing, formerly lay 200 yds. south of the present Brocton Hall. This may well have been the capital messuage held by Matthew Cradock in 1584; (fn. 40) its features suggest that it dates from the second half of the 16th century. It was later known as Brocton Farm. Drawings made in 1847 and 1849, (fn. 41) before the house was demolished, show a central block flanked by cross wings with overhanging gable-ends. There is a porch in the angle of the north wing and a massive chimney at the north end of the central block. The chimney, which is still in existence, has a stone base and brick shafts. On the ground floor are back-to-back fireplaces, one, in a good state of preservation, having a fourcentred arch and a stone lintel enriched with late 16th-century ornament. The second standing chimney belonged to the kitchen and appears to have been on the back wall of the north wing. It retains a very long oak lintel and the remains of baking ovens. Both chimneys carry fireplaces on the upper story. In 1666 George Launder, then owner of the manor, was assessed for nine hearths. (fn. 42)
Brocton Hall, now the clubhouse of the Brocton Hall Golf Club, may incorporate an 18th-century house but dates largely from c. 1815. It has a fine circular entrance hall and a stone staircase with an iron balustrade. There is a semicircular colonnade to the bowed entrance front. The house formerly had three stories above the basement, but the top floor was damaged by fire in 1939 (fn. 43) and has been largely removed. A pointed stone arch, not in situ, and two large carved gargoyles form a garden feature to the north of the house. Near the south-west corner of the park is an octagonal brick dovecot, probably dating from the late 18th or early 19th century. It is decorated externally with recessed panels in the form of pointed arches and quatrefoils.
Brocton Lodge, formerly Brocton Villa, (fn. 44) is a white stucco house with a Tuscan colonnade between flanking bays dating from the early 19th century. It lies on the west side of the road to Milford and originally formed part of the Brocton Hall estate.
The Cottage, Park Lane, is a small timberframed house on a cruciform plan with a large central chimney. A projecting wing in the centre of the front probably once formed its porch. This wing has exposed framing of quadrant and chevron design and is said formerly to have borne the date 1616. (fn. 45) The base of the central chimney is of stone and has back-to-back fireplaces serving the two bays of the central portion. Beyond the chimney is a staircase with flat wavy balusters. The kitchen wing at the rear, which has a lower roof line, was once a singlestory structure. Moulded and curved posts at the farther end, interrupted by a large stone kitchen chimney, and a single curved windbrace suggest that this wing may have been an earlier hall, altered and shortened in 1616.
At Brocton Green there is a small nucleus of timber-framed houses dating from the 16th and early 17th centuries. Village Farm has a stone plinth and a timber-framed west wing with the date 1646 scratched in modern plaster at the gable-end. On the dividing wall between this wing and the brick-faced main block is a large stone and brick chimney with back-to-back fireplaces. Green Farm, a timberframed structure, is now roughcast externally. The cottage on the corner of Oldacre Lane has exposed framing to the front consisting of square panels with straight braces. The eaves level has been raised. At the east gable-end is the base of a stone chimney, and the framing of the end truss is visible. Between this cottage and Green Farm is a timber-framed barn. On the corner of Chase Road is another partly timber-framed cottage. Bank Farm is a brick house dating from c. 1700.
Weeping Cross Inn at the junction of the StaffordLichfield and Stafford-Cannock roads was rebuilt or converted into a private residence known as the White House by John Stevenson Salt, probably soon after 1813. (fn. 46) About 1850 it was demolished, and Baswich House was built by Thomas Salt (d. 1871) on or near the site. It is an irregularly planned mansion of red brick with oriel windows of wood and many small gables, and is a good building of its period. A single-story picture gallery and a billiard room were added by Thomas's son Thomas (d. 1904). (fn. 47) The property was in use as a preparatory school before the Second World War. In 1952 it was acquired by the Staffordshire County Council for a Police Motor Training Centre. (fn. 48) Barnfields is a dignified red-brick house built by Samuel Twigg (fn. 49) early in the 19th century. The large stone barn to the south was already in existence and may be partly of 16th-century origin. This barn has been added to at various times and may incorporate stone from old Baswich church (fn. 50) (demolished 1740). At its northern end a game larder was added by John Twigg in 1841, (fn. 51) taking the form of a stone porch in the Norman style. Here, as elsewhere in the district, the garden contains dressed and carved stones, some of medieval origin, said to have come from St. Mary's Church, Stafford (restored in 1844–5). Weeping Cross House was built by a member of the Twigg family (fn. 52) in the middle of the 19th century. The Shawms in Radford Rise is a good example of the domestic architecture of its time. It was built in 1905 by H. J. Bostock, the architect being Henry T. Sandy, (fn. 53) and has roughcast gables, stone mullioned windows, a steep roof, and battered chimneys.
Milford Hall is an 18th-century house enlarged in 1817 and later. The principal front, facing east, originally had a central doorway and Ionic pilasters supporting a pediment at eaves level. (fn. 54) Adjoining the south side is an orangery with five tall windows. The east front was altered in 1817 by Richard Levett, the pilasters and pediment being removed and the central block set forward. The entrance was moved to the west side and the window arrangement altered. (fn. 55) Further additions, including upper stories to a service wing at the rear, date from later in the 19th century. East of the house there is an ornamental water supplied by the former mill stream. Near its north end is a small brick bath house dating from c. 1803. (fn. 56) In front of the building an oval stone bathing pool, screened by high walls, was supplied by pipes from the stream. The garden contains a circular colonnaded summerhouse which is thought to have been built by the Revd. Richard Levett in the late 18th century. It may have been suggested to him by the 'temples' in West Wycombe Park (Bucks.). Ionic capitals, probably from the east front of the house, are preserved in the garden, together with medieval stone fragments believed to have come from St. Mary's Church, Stafford.
The Old Dame Coffee House forms the east range of a three-sided block of farm buildings opposite Milford Hall dating from c. 1800. It was used as a dame school until 1879, after which hot drinks were served there to wagon drivers and tramps. (fn. 57) Milford Lodge, the only other large house in the village, dates from the early 19th century. In the extreme north-east corner of the parish are twin lodges at one of the entrances to Shugborough Park. These were designed by Samuel Wyatt c. 1800 and are contemporary with the diversion of the Lichfield road. (fn. 58)
North-west of Milford station the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal is carried over the River Sow by a stone aqueduct of four segmental arches. It was first erected on the south bank of the river, the water course being diverted southwards as soon as the building was complete. (fn. 59)
Holdford Bridge is a narrow humped bridge with four segmental arches, probably dating from the 18th century. It is of stone ashlar, and its parapets terminate in square piers.
Sir William Congreve (1772–1828), Comptroller of the Royal Laboratory, Woolwich (1814–28), and inventor of the Congreve rocket and brimstone matches, lived at Congreve House, Walton. (fn. 60)
BASWICH or BERKSWICH both before and after the Conquest was one of the manors of the bishopric. In 1086 it was assessed at 5 hides, and with Walton, which belonged to it, was then valued at 15s., 5s. more than in King Edward's time. (fn. 61) Also belonging to it were the vills of Brocton and Bednall, then waste, (fn. 62) but by 1297 or 1298 they were dependent upon the manor of Haywood. (fn. 63) The manor of Baswich remained with the bishop until 1546. (fn. 64) It held its own courts until at least 1360, (fn. 65) but by 1473 was being administered as part of the bishop's manor of Haywood, (fn. 66) the courts of which were held until at least 1869. (fn. 67) The bishop surrendered Baswich, with other manors, in 1546 to the Crown in exchange for certain benefices. (fn. 68) The lands, which had formed the bishop's demesne manor of Baswich, were granted in the same year to Sir William Paget (fn. 69) with whose descendant, the Marquess of Anglesey, any surviving lordship remains. (fn. 70)
In 1893 the Marquess of Anglesey conveyed to Lord Lichfield 1,784 acres of uninclosed land on Cannock Chase lying in Baswich and Brocton together with all manorial rights, except the coal and mineral rights, over this land. (fn. 71) Consequently, after the dispersal of the Chetwynd estates in Brocton and elsewhere in 1921, Lord Lichfield is frequently referred to as lord of the manor of Brocton. (fn. 72) The land conveyed comprised Satnall Hills, Milford Common, Spring Hill, Oat Hill, Broc Hill, Brocton Coppice, Coppice Hill, Hollywood Slade; Sherbrook Banks, Dry Pits, Tar Hill, Old Acre Valley, Sycamore Hill, Brocton Field, Anson's Bank, and various pools. In 1956 Lord Lichfield conveyed all this land to the Staffordshire County Council. (fn. 73)
Land in Baswich was granted c. 1199 by Geoffrey de Muscamp, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, to Simon the cook who later granted all his land described as in Stockton to the nearby Priory of St. Thomas. (fn. 74) About 1272 Avice, widow of Peter of Brocton, gave to the same priory land known as 'Smithemore', part of her dower. (fn. 75) The lands of the priory in Baswich and elsewhere were granted in 1539 to Bishop Roland Lee, (fn. 76) who in 1540 settled them on his nephew Brian Fowler. (fn. 77) Brian Fowler also held the demesne lands of the manor of Baswich, the warren and a house situated at the Baswich end of Radford Bridge on a 90 years lease beginning 1539. (fn. 78) These Fowler lands although occasionally called the manor of Baswich were subsequently usually referred to as the manors of SOWE and BROCTON. (fn. 79) On the death of Brian Fowler in 1587 they passed to his son Walter. (fn. 80) He died in 1621 and was succeeded by his son Edward, (fn. 81) who died in 1624 leaving as his heir a son Walter aged three years. (fn. 82) Walter Fowler was succeeded in 1681 by his son Walter (fn. 83) who died without male issue in 1684. (fn. 84) The lands then passed to his younger brother, William Fowler, who died without male issue in 1716. (fn. 85) Under a settlement of 1712 the estate then passed to John Betham, husband of Mary, daughter of Magdalen, youngest sister of William Fowler. (fn. 86) As John Betham Fowler (fn. 87) he died in 1719, and from then the lands were held in trust for his daughter Catherine, then aged nine, until her marriage with Viscount Fauconberg in 1726. In 1728 the beneficial interest was disputed by Robert Fitzgerald, his wife Rebecca, granddaughter of Dorothy, eldest sister of William Fowler, and the trustees. (fn. 88) The Fowler lands were finally partitioned in 1734, Baswich falling with the manor or lordship of Sowe and the capital messuage of St. Thomas to Lord Fauconberg, but by 1744 the lands south of the Sow in Baswich and Brocton had been acquired by Sarah Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, who in her will of that year disposed of them to her grandson John Spencer. (fn. 89) George Earl Spencer (fn. 90) transferred his interest in 1785 to George Anson of Shugborough (Pirehill hundred), the area conveyed being slightly more than 300 acres and the price £7,500. (fn. 91)
In 1086 Brocton was a member of the manor of Baswich. (fn. 92) By 1242 or 1243 Brocton formed with Bednall ¼ knight's fee then held of the bishop by John de Acton (fn. 93) of Acton Trussell. The overlordship of the bishop in Brocton continued until at least 1523. (fn. 94) The mesne lordship of the Trussells of Acton Trussell and their descendants in Brocton continued until at least 1569. (fn. 95)
In 1221 John de Acton granted a virgate of land and the capital messuage in Brocton to Avice and Benigna, daughters of Nicholas of Brocton, of which Bella their mother was to hold one-third, on condition that they relinquished their claim to another virgate. (fn. 96) In 1227 half of this other virgate was acquired by their brother John, (fn. 97) believed dead in 1221, (fn. 98) who had already successfully claimed the previous virgate from his sisters after his return from overseas. (fn. 99) This was probably the estate (fn. 100) granted by Thomas, son of Peter lord of Brocton, to Roger de Aston in 1295, (fn. 101) sometimes but doubtfully called the manor of BROCTON. Roger de Aston, still living in 1306 or 1307, (fn. 102) was succeeded by John de Aston who was dead before 1353. (fn. 103) His son and heir, Roger de Aston, died before 1364 or 1365 (fn. 104) leaving as his heir a son Thomas, then under age and in ward to William de Chetwynd and his wife Isabel, formerly wife of Roger de Aston. (fn. 105) Thomas Aston had been succeeded by Roger Aston, probably his son, before 1413. (fn. 106) Roger Aston died in 1447 or 1448 (fn. 107) and was succeeded by Robert Aston who died in 1467. (fn. 108) His heir, John Aston, died seised of lands and tenements in Brocton in 1484 (fn. 109) and was succeeded by his son John who died in 1523, when his tenements in Brocton were assigned as dower to his widow Joan, (fn. 110) daughter of Sir James Littleton, (fn. 111) who died in 1526. (fn. 112) The Brocton lands then passed to her son Edward Aston who died in 1569, leaving to his son and heir Walter tenements and messuages in Brocton. (fn. 113) In 1584 Walter Aston settled on his son and heir Edward what may have been this manor of Brocton. (fn. 114)
In 1544 or 1545 Thomas Cradock of Stafford purchased from Stephen Ward 2 messuages and 60 acres of land, 10 acres of pasture and 6s. rent in Brocton. (fn. 115) His son Matthew at his death in 1584 held a capital messuage in Brocton of the heirs' of Thomas son of Peter of Brocton, (fn. 116) presumably acquired therefore from the Aston family. This fell to Francis, younger son of Matthew Cradock, and on his death in 1594 to his son Edward. (fn. 117) By 1611 it had reverted to the senior branch of the Cradock family, (fn. 118) being held at his death in that year by George Cradock of Caverswall, eldest son of Matthew, and then described as 'a capital messuage in Brocton called Brocton Hall, 3 other messuages, 3 cottages, 1 dovecot, 130 acres of land in Brocton' held of William Lord Paget in fee and common socage. (fn. 119) In 1638 it was conveyed by this George Cradock to Thomas Aston and John Saunders. (fn. 120) By 1679 the owners were George and Elizabeth Lander who conveyed what was described as the manor to William Milward, (fn. 121) a step in the process of sale to Walter Chetwynd of Ingestre (Pirehill hundred). (fn. 122) In 1692 Walter Chetwynd left the manor of Brocton to Walter, son of Richard Chetwynd of Rugeley, (fn. 123) with whose descendants, a junior line of the Grendon and Rugeley branch of the Chetwynds, (fn. 124) the land remained until the sales between 1920 and 1922. (fn. 125) In 1851 William Fawkener Chetwynd owned 700 acres in Brocton. (fn. 126) In 1920 the Brocton Hall Estate consisted of 834 acres, the rental being £1,831 4s. 6d.; 131 acres were attached to Brocton Hall and 21 acres to Brocton Lodge, and there were six farms, namely Bednall Farm (75 a.), Brocton Gate Farm (68 a.), Road Farm (156 a.), Cottage Farm (15 a.), Brocton Bank Farm (131 a.), and Village Farm (129 a.). (fn. 127) The major part of the estate was then sold by Mrs. Mary Chetwynd, the farms mainly to the tenants. (fn. 128) Brocton Hall with its land was sold a short while afterwards to the Brocton Hall Golf Club, (fn. 129) the course being laid out in 1923 and the Hall used as the club house. (fn. 130)
In 1474 or 1475 a so-called manor of Haseley was in dispute between Robert and Humphrey Barbour, sons of John Barbour of Stafford who had died seised of it. (fn. 131) Robert Barbour at his death on 25 February 1531 or 1532 was seised of half a virgate of land and houses in Baswich called Haseley held of the Bishop of Lichfield and valued at 40s. (fn. 132) In 1732 Haseley manor or farm lying southsouth-east of Radford Bridge was owned by Richard Drakeford. (fn. 133) An 18th-century brick barn still stands near the site of Haseley manor-house, south-southeast of Radford Bridge and 150 yds. east of the canal.
Milford Hall formed part of the estate of Ellen and Lucy Byrd, daughters and coheirs of John Byrd, in 1771 on the marriage of Lucy to the Revd. Richard Levett, Vicar of West Wycombe (Bucks.), in which county the Byrds also had estates. (fn. 134) In 1810 there were 43 acres attached to Milford Hall. By private act the entail was cut, and the Byrd lands in Shropshire, Cheshire, and Buckinghamshire were subsequently sold, (fn. 135) the proceeds being invested in land in Baswich and in extending Milford Hall. (fn. 136) By c. 1830 the Levetts had acquired land in Brocton, mostly lying immediately south of the present Brocton Hall, and including the site of the old Brocton Hall. (fn. 137) This was exchanged with Sir George Chetwynd (d. 1869) for the Barley Mow Inn, Milford, in 1849. Between 1900 and 1929 Capt. W. S. B. Levett extended the estate to nearly 1,000 acres. He was succeeded by his daughter Mrs. Gerald Haszard, in 1956 still the owner of the estate, which was then about 600 acres and comprised Stockton, Walton, and the Home Farms. (fn. 138)
In 1279 18d. was accounted for by the bailiff of Baswich for the carrying of the mill stones to the mill. (fn. 139) In 1472 there was a water-mill and a fulling mill at Baswich. (fn. 140) In 1732, although the mill had disappeared, its site was identified as on the River Penkabout half a mile west of Radford Bridge. (fn. 141) There is considerable evidence that there was formerly a mill in what are now the grounds of Milford Hall. About 1845 a field south of the park was known as 'Mill Dam Field', (fn. 142) and traces of a water-wheel have been found at the upper end of the lake. (fn. 143) A small red-brick building 100 yds. south-west of Brocton Hall stands above the stream and is said to have been a mill. A field west of the park was known at one time as Mill Croft. (fn. 144)
There was a priest on the bishop's manor of Baswich in 1086. (fn. 145) By 1255 at the latest the benefice had been appropriated to the prebend of Baswich in Lichfield Cathedral and was then subject to the peculiar jurisdiction of the prebendary. (fn. 146) Dependent chapels of Baswich were founded in Acton Trussell and Bednall during the Middle Ages, (fn. 147) a chantry chapel existed in Brocton by 1549, and mission churches were established from Baswich at Walton and Brocton in 1842 and 1890 respectively (see below).
The income of the prebend from the rectorial tithes and incidents of Baswich in 1291 was £20. (fn. 148) At some time between 1529 and 1532 the right to the great tithes of Baswich, which had been leased by Richard Egerton, Prebendary of Baswich, to Edmond Warde, was being disputed by the Prior of St. Thomas, apparently unsuccessfully. (fn. 149) In 1535 the income of the prebend of Whittington and Baswich from tithes and other spiritual emoluments was £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 150)
A vicarage had been ordained by the time of Bishop Roger de Meuland (1258–95), and in 1341 the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield successfully claimed the right of presentation. (fn. 151) In 1407 the advowson was granted to the Prior and Convent of St. Thomas, a pension of 20d. being reserved. (fn. 152) In 1539, after the dissolution of St. Thomas's Priory, the canons' rights in the church of Baswich with its dependent chapels were granted to Bishop Roland Lee. (fn. 153) On his death in 1542 they passed to Brian Fowler his nephew. (fn. 154) The advowson of what was by the 18th century called a perpetual curacy (fn. 155) and only again in 1867 a vicarage (fn. 156) remained with the Fowler family of Brocton (fn. 157) and their descendants (fn. 158) until 1912, (fn. 159) when the Revd. (later the Very Revd.) W. R. Inge and J. H. H. V. Lane, then the alternate patrons, transferred the advowson to the bishop. (fn. 160)
In 1535 the income of the vicarage was £5 6s. 8d. (fn. 161) Mrs. C. B. Inge of Oxford, by will proved 1931, left £800 for the augmentation of the income of the minister of Baswich with Walton. (fn. 162) By 1933 the incumbent received £67 10s. a year from this source. (fn. 163)
Miss S. J. Smith, by will proved 1938, left £100 to the Vicar and Churchwardens of Baswich for keeping the graveyard in good order; this has been invested in stock. (fn. 164) Sermons are still preached by the Vicar of Baswich under the terms of the Twigg Charity at Christmas and Easter for which he receives 10s. (fn. 165)
A chapel at Brocton, mentioned as 'one wherein service was sometimes kept and sometimes not', was standing in 1549, (fn. 166) but the site is unknown. Chantry lands consisting of 2 messuages and a garden, belonging to the late chapel of Brocton, were granted in the same year to Roger Ackroyd, Geoffrey Harrison, and Thomas Burnet. (fn. 167)
The church of HOLY TRINITY, Baswich, which is of 12th-century origin, was largely rebuilt in 1740. (fn. 170) It consists of a chancel with a porch on its north side, a nave slightly wider than the chancel, and a west tower. It retains good Georgian features internally, including two double-tier family pews which occupy most of the chancel and a three-decker pulpit.
The earliest parts of the church are the jambs of the chancel arch and the footings of the external east wall both of which date from the 12th century. Late-12th- or early-13th-century masonry is also visible above the chancel arch on its east side. The north jamb of the arch has a circular shaft and curious superimposed capitals, one of which is probably reset. The lower capital is circular, the upper is of a crude Corinthian type with a cable moulding below it. The square abacus is chamfered along its lower edge. The south jamb has been cut back and has no distinctive features.
The church appears to have been extensively altered in the 14th century, the east and west walls of the nave, both with angle buttresses, and the pointed chancel arch being of this period. The lower stages of the tower, also with angle buttresses, are of 14th- or 15th-century masonry. The blocked west doorway, the window above it, and the string-course are of Perpendicular type.
In 1733 Quarter Sessions authorized an application for a brief for rebuilding. (fn. 171) The precedent certificate described the walls as bulging at the foundations, the roof rotted and in danger of falling in, and the steeple, being too high and too heavy for its foundations, as held with iron cramps. In 1739 an agreement was made with Richard Trubshaw and Richard Jackson, builders, to undertake the work of pulling down and rebuilding the church and steeple. (fn. 172) Their account for £336 was settled in 1742. (fn. 173) It may be assumed that Richard Trubshaw (1689–1745), master builder and quarry owner of Haywood, (fn. 174) was responsible for the design. The east and west walls of the nave and the base of the tower were left standing; the other walls were demolished to ground level and rebuilt in brick above a few courses of stone laid on the old foundations. The south nave wall has three round-headed windows with brick aprons and plain stone archivolts with key-blocks. There is a stone band at impost level and a moulded cornice. The square-headed south doorway, above which is a circular window, has rusticated jambs and voussoirs. In the north wall are four round-headed openings with blind panels below and semicircular lights above. The chancel has rusticated quoins and single round-headed windows in the east and south walls. The east gable of the nave is truncated, and the roof line is evidently lower than that of the medieval church. (fn. 175) The belfry stage of the tower was rebuilt in stone, each face having a round-headed window. It terminates in a straight parapet which formerly carried urns at the four corners. (fn. 176) A branching external stair gives access to the ringing-chamber and to the west gallery of the nave. The base of the tower, used as a vestry, is entered from the church by an 18th-century doorway. In 1771 the roof was retiled at a cost of £18, and the vestry was repaired and whitewashed. (fn. 177)
Many of the interior fittings, including the threedecker pulpit, (fn. 178) the altar rails, the original west gallery, and the small font against the west wall of the nave date from the 18th-century rebuilding. The lower stage of the pew on the south side of the chancel, formerly belonging to the Chetwynds of Brocton Hall, is probably of the same period. In 1812 a faculty was granted to Richard Levett of Milford Hall for erecting a two-tiered pew on the north side of the chancel for the accommodation of his family and servants. (fn. 179) The 16th-century altar tomb of Brian Fowler was cut away to give room for its staircase. The upper stage of the Chetwynd pew opposite, which is fitted with a fireplace, is similar in style and is of the same date. (fn. 180) Also early in the 19th century an eastward extension was made to the west gallery. (fn. 181) In 1894 a new lychgate in the churchyard was given by Mrs. Spooner, mother-in-law of the Revd. F. G. Inge, in memory of her husband. (fn. 182) A new altar was presented and alterations made to the chancel in 1899; the north door was raised and a wooden porch outside it rebuilt in brick at the expense of Capt. Levett. (fn. 183) In 1900 the nave was repewed, the chancel arch scraped and heating installed. (fn. 184) The chancel ceiling was removed in 1935 and the roof timbers exposed. (fn. 185) Electric lighting was installed in 1953, and a portable oak font was introduced in 1956. (fn. 186) The Royal Arms of George III hang on the north nave wall. Nearby is a marble tablet inscribed with details of the Twigg and Harding charities. Stained glass in the east window was inserted in 1935 in memory of William S. B. Levett (d. 1929). A south window contains stained glass given in 1950 by Eleanora and H. J. Bostock.
The oldest memorial is an altar tomb against the north chancel wall dated 1587 and inscribed to Brian, son of Roger Fowler, and his wife Joan. The angle pilasters have Renaissance ornament and the top bears a cross moline. The sides and front of the tomb have rows of shields bearing the arms of various families impaled with Fowler. (fn. 187) Nearby is a wall tablet erected in 1700 by William Fowler commemorating members of his family and Mr. Daniel Fitter, 'his virtuous friend'; also one in memory of William Fowler (d. 1716/17), his wife Catherine, and others. Above the Levett pew is a tablet to William Swynnerton Byrd Levett (d. 1929) and a cartouche on which his initials and those of his wife are entwined. Above the Chetwynd pew are several uniform tablets to members of the family including Walter Chetwynd (d. 1750), William Chetwynd (d. 1778), George Chetwynd (d. 1824), and William Fawkener Chetwynd (d. 1873). Elsewhere in the church are tablets in memory of Joseph Ellerton, (d. 1856) and Francis George Inge (d. 1923), vicars.
In the earlier 19th century vicars of Baswich were living at Weeping Cross. (fn. 188) When St. Thomas's Church was built at Walton in 1842 a house was already in existence on the adjoining site. (fn. 189) It was enlarged and converted into a vicarage soon afterwards. (fn. 190)
In 1553 there was a silver chalice with paten, two candlesticks, and a latten cross at Baswich church. (fn. 191) The plate included in 1956 a flagon, a two-handled cup, a paten and a salver, all Sheffield plate, purchased by the inhabitants of Baswich in 1798; a silver almsdish, 1809, the gift of Richard Byrd Levett in 1843; a silver chalice, undated, and a silver paten, both marked I.J.K.; a silver chalice with three garnets in knop, 1916, given in memory of Algernon Harold Baillie; a silver paten, 1917–18, given in memory of Aubrey Norman and Basil Norman, grandsons of William Grindley of Weeping Cross; a silver flagon and lid, a silver chalice, undated; (fn. 192) a silver chalice and paten given in memory of Norman Jones, 1956. (fn. 193)
In 1553 there were three bells and one little bell. (fn. 194) There are now three bells: (i) cast by John of Stafford, early 14th century, inscribed 'In Onore Sancte Trenete'; (ii) early 14th century, inscribed 'Missi decelis [sic] vos salvet vox Gabrielis'; (iii) 1591, Henry Oldfield of Nottingham. (fn. 195)
The registers date from 1601. Those for 1601– 1812 are printed. (fn. 196)
The church of ST. THOMAS, Walton, was built in 1842 as a chapel-of-ease to Baswich. The architect was Thomas Trubshaw (fn. 197) (1802–42), and the Early English style of the building is said to have been suggested by Thomas Salt of Weeping Cross. (fn. 198) It is a small cruciform church built of purple brick with stone dressings. The base of the tower, in the west angle of the north transept, serves as a porch. Access to the west gallery of the nave is obtained by a projecting turret at the south-west corner of the church. The tower formerly had a stone spire, but this was struck by lightning and destroyed in 1845. (fn. 199) It was replaced by the existing tall lead-covered spire.
Internally there is an open hammer-beam roof to the chancel and a king-post roof to the nave. The font is of stone and the pulpit of stone and coloured marble. The pierced alabaster chancel screen was presented in 1888, (fn. 200) and the carved oak reredos was erected in 1889 in memory of Col. Richard Byrd Levett. (fn. 201) In 1919 the north transept was converted into a war memorial chapel, (fn. 202) the architect being Cecil Hare. (fn. 203) A stained-glass window, said to be by Pugin, in memory of the Revd. Richard and Louisa Frances Levett was moved to the chapel from the south side of the church. (fn. 204) Other windows commemorate R. B. Levett (d. 1888), Mary Hitchings (d. 1922), Herbert T. and Edith Mary Allsopp (inserted 1937), and Major H. Pye (d. 1944). Electric light was installed in 1934. (fn. 205) The oak altar rails were presented in 1945 in memory of the Revd. Gerard Hitchings, late incumbent. (fn. 206) In 1956 a new organ was installed in the west gallery, the former instrument having been removed from a small organ chamber at the side of the chancel. (fn. 207)
On the south nave wall is a marble tablet in memory of the Revd. Richard Levett (d. 1843) and Louisa Frances, his wife (d. 1864). There are also tablets to Lt. Richard B. Wilton (d. 1917) and Lt. M. A. McFerran (d. 1918). An altar tomb bearing a recumbent effigy in alabaster in memory of Lt. Richard Byrd Levett (d. 1917) is placed at the entrance to the north transept. (fn. 208) Above it is a bronze Madonna and Child by Albert Roze. The carved oak canopy, designed by Cecil Hare, was added when the transept became a memorial chapel in 1919. (fn. 209) Other tablets in the church commemorate William Morgan of Walton Lodge (d. 1924), Herbert T. Allsopp and his wife Edith Mary (d. 1920 and 1935), and Louisa Mary and Evelyn Honora Levett (d. 1939 and 1946).
There are no remains of the ancient chapel at Brocton, but field names occurring c. 1845 north of the lane to Walton may indicate its approximate position. (fn. 212) The present church of All Saints is a plain rectangular brick building erected as a mission room in 1891 at a cost of £200. (fn. 213) It was dedicated to ALL SAINTS by the Bishop of Lichfield in 1951 and enlarged by the addition of a south bay in 1955. The crucifix above the altar dates from 1951, and the oak pews, of local workmanship, date from between 1950 and 1956. (fn. 214)
The plate consists of a silver chalice and paten given in memory of Mrs. Mary Chetwynd, 1951, and a modern brass alms dish. (fn. 215) In 1553 there was one bell and ornaments worth 16d. in the chapel at Brocton. (fn. 216) There is one modern bell in the present chapel.
In 1690 the house of James Twigg of 'Baswidge' was certified as a nonconformist place of worship under the Toleration Act. (fn. 217) In 1812 the house of a Mr. Browne at Walton on the Hill (fn. 218) and in 1826 the house of Thomas Saint were registered as meeting-houses for nonconformists. (fn. 219)
Dorothy Bridgeman (d. 1697), widow of Sir Orlando Bridgeman of Weston under Lizard (d. 1671) and formerly wife of George Cradock of Caverswall and Brocton Hall, (fn. 220) by will dated 10 January 1694 (or 1695), left two-tenths of £200 towards the schooling of poor children of Brocton. (fn. 221) It was possibly not until 1726, as in the case of her similar bequest to Castle Church, (fn. 222) that the money was made available. (fn. 223) Land in Baswich parish known as School Leasow and two doles in the 'town hills' believed to have been bought for this charity and let before 1778 for £2 10s., paid for the schooling of six children; after the raising of the rent in 1778 to £3 a seventh child was taught, and from about 1800 to at least 1823, when the rent was £6 6s., nine poor children were sent to a mistress in Brocton who taught the boys to read and the girls to read and sew. (fn. 224) The attendance at this private school on the day of inspection in 1871 was five boys and seven girls. (fn. 225)
All these charity lands have been sold, some part to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal Co., by whom a rent-charge of 14s. 8d. was still paid in 1905; some to the Trent Valley Railway Co.; and the rest under Orders of the Charity Commissioners of 1894 and 1895 and of the Board of Education of 1903. (fn. 226) The proceeds of sale and accumulated income, by 1905 invested in £369 4s. 2d. stock, produced an income of £18 4s. 4d. which was 'applied towards the remuneration of a school dame.' (fn. 227)
There is no longer a school in Brocton, but the charity, which is administered by a scheme under the Charitable Trusts Acts, may be applied partly for the benefit of children resident in Brocton parish and attending a public elementary school, either in providing facilities for conveyance to school or in providing spectacles or surgical appliances or other aids to health; partly in helping such children towards higher education, by payment of fees and travelling or maintenance allowances, or alternatively in otherwise promoting the education of the boys and girls of the poorer classes in Brocton. (fn. 228) The annual income in 1954 was £41 16s. 4d. interest on stock and 8s. 1d. from Docks and Inland Waterways. (fn. 229)
Another dame school was founded at Milford by Richard Levett of Milford Hall and his wife Louisa, niece of Lord Bagot, who were married in 1804. (fn. 230) Elizabeth Dean, schoolmistress, was a resident of Milford by 1834. (fn. 231) The Levett family continued to finance the school, providing even the girls' dresses which, within the memory of those living in 1949, were grey and white gingham with goffered white linen tippets for summer and red and black plaid for winter, with scarlet cloaks and hoods. (fn. 232) The children were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, the youngest prepared wool for the older girls to spin, and both boys and girls knitted their own stockings. This little dame school closed down in 1879 on the death of Mrs. Betty Dean. (fn. 233)
A National school for boys and girls of Baswich parish was built at Walton on the Hill in 1838, with a house for the master and mistress. (fn. 234) It received an annual parliamentary grant from 1855. (fn. 235) From at least 1865 the standard of work seems to have been very low, and a reduction of the government grant was threatened in 1872. (fn. 236) Attendance between 1863 and 1894 was irregular, (fn. 237) being about 50 in 1871. (fn. 238) After the appointment of William and Annie Longson as master and mistress in 1893, the school began to improve. (fn. 239) By 1894, when average attendance was 105, (fn. 240) it had probably already absorbed the infant school. This, founded in Walton c. 1860 in a building adapted from several cottages and supported entirely by Miss Salt of Weeping Cross, had places for 40 children and an average attendance in 1884 of 20. (fn. 241) The National school building was enlarged in 1894 and again in 1907. (fn. 242) It had an average attendance of 93 boys and girls and 52 infants in 1910. (fn. 243) There were 129 in the school in 1931, when it was limited to junior children and infants, the seniors being transferred to Stafford borough. (fn. 244) It became a controlled school in 1949 (fn. 245) and is now Baswich Church of England Voluntary Primary (Controlled) School (Junior Mixed and Infants). (fn. 246) The average attendance in 1955 was 150 children. (fn. 247)
The interest on a sum of £35, being the surplus of 'The Revd. Joseph Ellerton Memorial Fund', was assigned in 1891 for the provision of rewards, at Christmas, for 'the best conducted children at Berkswich National School.' (fn. 248) In 1918 the principal was used to buy £37 0s. 1d. stock, and in 1954 the income, £1 5s. 10d., was still spent on school prizes. (fn. 249)
Charities for the Poor
Dorothy Bridgeman (d. 1697) (fn. 250) left to the poor of Brocton township land there which was yielding 10s. in 1786 (fn. 251) and 20s. in 1823. The income in 1823 was distributed on St. Thomas's Day (21 Dec.) in sums of 2s. 6d. or 3s. among the poorest parishioners in the township. (fn. 252) This charity was subsequently lost.
Thomas Twist of Walton, by will of 1683, left £10, the interest to be spent on cloth for the poor of the liberty of Walton, i.e. all the parish except Brocton township. (fn. 253) In 1786 the interest was 8s. (fn. 254) and from at least 1816 10s. which was laid out in flannel given away at a vestry meeting in October. (fn. 255) The annual income, 7s. 4d., was being paid to the poor in cash in 1954. (fn. 256)
George Baddeley of Weeping Cross, by will dated 1717, gave a rent of 6s. charged on land at Weeping Cross to be distributed in bread to the poor of Walton liberty on Palm Sunday and on the first Sunday of each of the following two months. (fn. 257) Payment had ceased some years before 1823, and attempts then made to recover the charity seem to have been unsuccessful. (fn. 258)
Roger Twigg of Walton, by will of 1726, left £40, the interest to provide 'bread-corn' for the poor of Walton constablewick on 25 March and at Midsummer, Michaelmas, and Christmas. (fn. 259) On Roger's death in 1733 (fn. 260) the £40 passed to his brother Samuel, who, by will of October, charged two closes with a rent of 32s., being interest at 4 per cent on £40. Samuel added a rent of 40s. of which 8s. was to be added to the four distributions laid down in his brother's will, 10s. was to be paid to the minister at Baswich for sermons on St. Thomas's Day and Good Friday, 10s. was to be distributed in 'household bread' on these two days at the church and the remaining 12s. was to be given away in 'penny bread' on the first Sunday of every month. (fn. 261) By 1823 £2 was distributed in bread-corn to twelve of the poorest in the constablewick of Walton, most of them widows, 10s. in sixpenny loaves on Good Friday and St. Thomas's Day, and 12s. in twelve-penny loaves on the first Sunday of the month, and 10s. was paid to the vicar for the two sermons. (fn. 262) In 1954 10s. of this £3 12s. was still paid to the vicar for sermons at Easter and Christmas, and the rest went to the poor. (fn. 263)
Esther Harding of Weeping Cross, by will of 1830, left £50, the interest to be used to purchase warm clothing for the poor of the parish. (fn. 264) In 1918 the principal was invested in £52 16s. 2d. stock, and in 1954 the income of £1 16s. 10d. was still paid to the poor. (fn. 265)