A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 5, East Cuttlestone Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
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Castle Church has been a separate parish from at least 1546. (fn. 1) The ancient parish was roughly square in shape and mainly lay immediately south, southeast, and south-west of Stafford. Its boundary followed the course of the River Sow from a point 2 miles north-west of Stafford eastward to the confluence of the Sow and the Penk, except for a triangle of land north of the Sow comprising part of Lammascote and of Littleworth. The boundary then ran south for 6 miles along the course of the Penk, then slightly north-east in an uneven line to the base of Willowmore Hill (Bradley parish) 6½ miles away, due north for 5½ miles, and then due west for 2 miles turning north again to meet the Sow. (fn. 2) A detached strip of Coppenhall between Thorneyfields Lane and Burton Manor had become part of Castle Church by 1881. (fn. 3) The parish is mainly flat but rises in the south-west to about 450 ft. The Rising Brook rises in the south of the parish and crosses it in a north-easterly direction, joining the Spittal Brook which flows across the north-east of the ancient parish to join the Sow. Three main roads cross the ancient parish: the road to Newport in a southwesterly direction; the road to Lichfield, 'the king's highway' of the Middle Ages, later turnpiked from Radford Bridge, (fn. 4) in a south-easterly direction through Forebridge; and the road to Wolverhampton in a southerly direction through Forebridge. All three roads now converge on the borough of Stafford near the Green Bridge.
The ancient parish, which was divided into two constablewicks by 1666, (fn. 5) consisted of the vills of Castle, i.e. the area surrounding the castle of the Stafford barony, which lies in the north-west of the ancient parish with the church half a mile south-east of it; Forebridge lying south-east of and adjacent to the borough of Stafford; Rowley in the centre of the parish; Burton lying a mile north of the southern boundary of the parish; Rickerscote in the southeast of the parish; Silkmore in the east of the parish; and the hamlet of Hyde Lea on the southern boundary of the parish. Risingbrook, an area of very modern development, lies slightly south-east of Rowley. The parish had a population in 1801 of 563 (fn. 6) and an area in 1831 of 3,777 acres. (fn. 7)
By the Parliamentary and Municipal Reform Acts of 1832 and 1835 an area in the north of the parish, the present Castletown and Forebridge, was taken into the borough. The new boundary in the northwest of the parish ran from the windmill at Broad Eye, Castletown, to the stile at the end of the footpath from Newport Road to Penkridge Road, then south to where the Rising Brook turns east, then along the brook to the junction with Spittal Brook, and finally to the Sow. (fn. 8) This change left the parish with an area of 3,460 acres in 1851. (fn. 9) In 1876 the triangle of land north of the River Sow and now part of Lammascote and Littleworth was taken into the borough. (fn. 10) In 1917 a larger area, roughly an intake a mile deep along the north-east boundary and comprising the area up Newport Road almost to the castle and including the church and vicarage, Rowley Park, Risingbrook, and Silkmore, was absorbed by the borough. Thus, speaking approximately, the north-east corner of the ancient parish was cut out. (fn. 11) A further intake into the borough in 1934 included Burton Manor and Rickerscote so that only two long tongues of land stretching north and east from Willowmore Hill, the south-west corner of the ancient parish, remained in the civil parish of Castle Church. (fn. 12) The area of the parish in 1951 was 1,704 acres and the population 580. (fn. 13)
The name Forebridge was given by 1288 to land immediately south of the bridge crossing the Sow into Stafford. (fn. 14) By 1327 Forebridge formed a separate vill and had nine inhabitants who were taxed for the twentieth. (fn. 15) The Green in Forebridge is mentioned in 1304 (fn. 16) and most of the population of the parish was settled here in 1403, though eight cottages had been burnt and not rebuilt. (fn. 17) The Hospital of St. John, the Hospital of St. Leonard, and the house of Austin Friars were all situated in Forebridge. As early as 1295 the Hospital of St. John, which probably stood with its chapel at the junction of the present White Lion Street and Lichfield Road, (fn. 18) had tenements attached to it for the use of the poor. (fn. 19) It was claimed in 1535 by Henry Lord Stafford that the chapel there, founded by his ancestors, had been allowed to fall into decay and that the surrounding houses, once intended for poor people, were inhabited by 'unthrifty persons of evil living'. (fn. 20) Whether or not these statements were justified, it is certain that by 1543 the estate of the Master of St. John's, in Forebridge, included thirteen tenements, most consisting of house, garden, and croft. (fn. 21) By 1542 the church of the Austin Friars, which is thought to have lain south-west of the Green, had been demolished. (fn. 22) Six cottages on the Green were occupied by Lord Stafford's tenants-at-will c. 1519. (fn. 23) The pinfold 'upon the top of the Green' figured in a dispute between tenants of the barony between about 1539 and 1542. (fn. 24) In 1543 there were 32 tenements, most with garden and croft adjoining, in Forebridge around the Green and, standing upon the middle of the Green, 2 messuages, of which seven tenements had been made, and a cottage. (fn. 25) One of the houses, with garden and orchard, belonged to Billington chapel (Bradley parish). (fn. 26) During the Civil War, in 1642, the inhabitants of the Green were ordered by the Parliamentary Committee at Stafford to pull down buildings within musket shot of the town walls, being warned that those who neglected to do so would be left to shift for themselves, whereas those who submitted would receive full satisfaction for any damage and would be provided for elsewhere. (fn. 27) In 1680 the greater part of the population of the parish still lived at Forebridge or Stafford Green, where there were between 30 and 40 houses. (fn. 28) The Green, the area covering the triangle now formed by the Lichfield and Wolverhampton roads and White Lion Street, was built up on all sides and in the centre c. 1840. (fn. 29) Farther east along the Lichfield road there were several large residential properties including Forebridge Villa, now St. Joseph's Convent, and the house now known as The Old Hough. (fn. 30) Green Hall on the north side of the Lichfield road stood alone and had considerable grounds. (fn. 31) Two well-designed terraces on the Wolverhampton road date from c. 1830. About 1840 this road was built up on its east side for a mile south of the Green, and Garden Street which runs off the Wolverhampton road just south of the Green had houses on both sides. (fn. 32) The further development of this area after its absorption by Stafford borough in 1835 is reserved for treatment with the history of the borough in another volume.
At or near the Green several 18th-century houses and cottages have survived, but, apart from the White Lion Inn, (fn. 33) there appear to be few, if any, earlier buildings. The remains of Forebridge lock-up, probably dating from the early 18th century, adjoin the west end of the White Lion at the corner of White Lion Street and Lichfield Road. This is a small square stone structure, roofed with stone slates and with a brick vault internally.
The vill of Castle with Marsh had eight inhabitants in 1327 who were taxed for the twentieth. (fn. 34) Several farms lay in the 'Castle' region, the northeast of the parish, in 1788: Highfields, Castle Farm, Eldershiers, Hill Farm, Burley Fields Farm, and Silvester's Farm. (fn. 35) About 1840 there were only five houses on the Newport road, The Hollies, opposite Rowley Avenue and the oldest residential property on the road, The Hawthorns, on the south side of the road ¼ mile south-west of The Hollies, Deans Hill on the north side ¼ mile farther on, a cottage slightly to the west, in 1851 kept as a beerhouse, and Castle Farm opposite the church. (fn. 36) About 1½ mile of this road as far as The Hawthorns was included in Stafford borough in 1835 (see above), under which its further development will be treated in another volume. On the remaining stretch of the Newport road three large houses had been built immediately south of Deans Hill by 1877. (fn. 37) By 1900 a further four houses had been built south-west of these (fn. 38) and c. 1906 another was added, Upmeads, designed by Edgar Wood. At this period it was considered remarkable for its flat roof and was described as 'fortress-like' and 'boxy'. (fn. 39) Castle House, in 1957 offices of the Staffordshire County Council, which stands opposite the church, was built c. 1870 and is an impressive brick mansion. In 1917 this area as far as the church was taken into Stafford borough (see above) and its further development is reserved for treatment in another volume.
Smaller houses in the Newport road and Thornyfields Lane, still outside the borough boundary, were built between the two world wars. There has been further building of detached houses west of St. Mary's Church since 1950. Except for these, however, this area was still open country in 1957. Billington Farm, beyond the built-up area, has a date tablet of 1739 bearing the Stafford Knot. The house was refronted in the 19th century. A rebuilt brick barn fronting the road has a truss incorporating two crucks.
Rowley formed a separate vill by at least 1452, (fn. 40) the Hall being the principal building there. Rowley Park, part of the grounds of Rowley Hall (fn. 41) lying west of the Wolverhampton road, was bought before 1868 by the Staffs. Land, Building, and Investment Co. Ltd., for building villa residences around a triangular plot which was to be laid out as ornamental pleasure grounds. (fn. 42) By 1900 about 40 substantial houses had been built in this area, the most compact building being along the east end of Crescent Road. (fn. 43) Apart from an incomplete terrace in Lawn Road dating from c. 1870 there is no uniformity in the size or style of the villas in Rowley Park. The grounds of the original houses have in many cases been divided into smaller plots, so that the estate now contains houses of all sizes and periods.
In 1680 there were two little houses at Risingbrook. (fn. 44) By c. 1840 there were still only a few cottages there (fn. 45) and in 1924, seven years after the area was absorbed by Stafford borough, there were only the Royal Oak Inn and one or two houses. (fn. 46) The recent development of this area is reserved for treatment under Stafford borough in another volume.
In 1327 the joint vills of Burton and Rickerscote had nine inhabitants who were taxed for the twentieth. (fn. 47) In Burton and Rickerscote constablewick in 1666, 30 inhabitants were assessed for 39 hearths and 15 were exempt. (fn. 48) In 1680 there were 12 or 14 houses at Rickerscote and 12 or 14 also at Burton and Hyde Lea as well as 3 large estates. (fn. 49) There was a group of houses forming a considerable hamlet on either side of the road leading from Rickerscote House to the Plough Inn by 1840. (fn. 50) West of Rickerscote House there is a post-1945 housing estate.
In 1818 the western part of the parish to Moss Pit Bank and the Wolverhampton road was said to be 'thinly interspersed with handsome mansions'. (fn. 51) There were about half a dozen cottages in the area of Burton Manor c. 1840 and a few cottages at Moss Pit and along Burton Bank. (fn. 52) By 1924 there had been some more building at Moss Pit and along Burton Bank. (fn. 53) North of the junction of Burton Bank and the Wolverhampton road is a post-1945 housing estate joining up with the Rickerscote estate. In 1950 there were still only a few cottages around Burton Manor itself.
The general effect of the expansion of Rowley, Risingbrook, Rickerscote, and Moss Pit is that the area east of the Wolverhampton road was completely built up by 1950 as far as Moss Pit, nearly three miles from the centre of Stafford, and the area west as far as the junction with the road to Coppenhall, nearly two miles south of the centre of Stafford; and the area between the two roads leading from the Wolverhampton road to Rickerscote has also been built up for about half a mile.
Hyde Lea Common was ringed by small encroachments by 1788 (fn. 54) and by c. 1840 there were a few cottages there, several of which, dating from the late 18th and the early 19th centuries, still survive. (fn. 55) A school was built there in 1863. (fn. 56) By 1881 there were two public houses there, the Crown Inn and the Dun Cow Inn, but by 1900 only one, 'The Crown,' and by 1924 there was also a post office. (fn. 57) Considerable building of residential property has taken place there between the two world wars and since 1950.
Industrial and housing development has taken place also in Silkmore and along the stretch of the Lichfield road not taken into the borough in 1835. This has occurred mainly since 1917 when the area went into the borough and is reserved for treatment in another volume. The development of the triangle of land in the north-east of the ancient parish, on the north of the Sow taken into the borough in 1876, and of Castletown is reserved for like treatment.
There were several saline springs at Rickerscote in 1811 (fn. 58) and a salt well still existed there in 1956.
The castle of the Stafford barony is not mentioned in Domesday Book, but the existence of the remains of what was undoubtedly a motte and bailey castle (fn. 59) and references to the existence of a chapel 'within the castle' from the time of the Conquest (fn. 60) make it probable that the first fortification of the Stafford family, on the hill south-west of Stafford, was built soon after the Conquest. In 1347 Ralph de Stafford made an agreement with John de Burcestre, mason, for the building of a castle upon 'la moete', (fn. 61) presumably the first stone castle there. In 1348 Ralph was given licence to crenellate his 'dwelling place of Stafford' and make a castle of it. (fn. 62) He was still paying workmen's wages in 1368. (fn. 63) In July 1392, four days after the death of Thomas Earl of Stafford, the king appointed his own esquire William de Walsall as constable or keeper of this castle, as well as surveyor of the park, provided the offices were still vacant. (fn. 64) After the forfeiture and attainder of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham (d. 1521), when the castle escheated to the Crown, it was described as standing 'upon so goodly an height that all the country may be seen 20 or 30 miles about. And one way a man may see to the king's lordship of Caurs [i.e. Caus] in Wales 30 miles from thence, and another way to the king's honor of Tutbury. (fn. 65) In spite of the many faults in the lead-covered roof, and in the floors and in the pointing of the battlements, 'this little castle and the members about it . . . standing pleasantly nigh much game for hunting . . . should be right pleasant for the king when it shall please his grace to make his progress into those parts in grease-time'. (fn. 66)
In 1522 the king appointed Edward Littleton of Pillaton (in Penkridge), then usher of the chamber, as constable and doorward of Stafford castle. (fn. 67) Littleton still held these offices at Michaelmas 1533, (fn. 68) though the castle and manor had been restored to Henry Lord Stafford and Ursula, his wife, in 1531. (fn. 69) Letters of Henry Lord Stafford were dated from the castle in 1532 (fn. 70) but he left the neighbourhood in 1537, leasing to William Staunford (or Stanford) what was described as the manor place of the castle of Stafford, with demesne lands, stock, grain, and implements of husbandry. (fn. 71) Whether Stanford occupied the castle itself is uncertain but his name is appended to a room by room inventory of goods and furnishings left behind by Lord Stafford. (fn. 72) Lord Stafford had returned by at least 1546 and was living in the castle until 1553 and in 1561. (fn. 73) His eldest surviving son, Henry, died there in 1566. (fn. 74) In 1574 this same Edward Lord Stafford, with Lords Dudley and Paget, issued from the castle returns for musters for Staffordshire. (fn. 75) A Council, not apparently attended by Lord Stafford, was held at the castle in 1575. (fn. 76) On 27 July 1603 he wrote to the Earl of Shrewsbury from his 'rotten castle of Stafford'. (fn. 77) His son and heir, Edward (d. 1625), who was buried in Castle Church, (fn. 78) had leased what seems to have been the actual castle with the Little Park and land called 'the Lawnd' in 1607 for 21 years at £5 rent to John Cradock. (fn. 79) It was this Edward's widow, Isabel, 'the ould Lady Stafford' who had 'betaken herself to the castle' to defend it in the absence of her grand-daughter's husband, William Howard, Viscount Stafford, and who refused entry in 1643 to the parliamentary forces; whereupon they set fire to 'some of the poore out houses' in order 'to trye whether these would awake their spirites to any relentinge, but all in vaine . . .' . (fn. 80) The defenders shot some men and horses, 'which did much enrage and provoke the rest to a fierce revenge, and to practice those extremities which consumed . . . almost all the dwelling houses and out houses to the ground'. The defenders still held out for the king (fn. 81) but on 22 December 1643 the Parliamentary Committee at Stafford ordered the demolition of the castle. (fn. 82)
The stone castle built by Ralph de Stafford between 1347 and c. 1368 was rectangular in plan, measuring about 120 by 50 ft., with an octagonal tower at each of the corners and a fifth tower in the centre of the north side. (fn. 83) Ralph's agreement with John de Burcestre, mason, for building a castle on 'la moete' specified that the walls were to be 7 ft. thick at the base and that the towers were to be 10 ft. higher than the main body of the building. (fn. 84) In 1524 the castle was described as 'little and without courts . . . all uniforme, and of one fashion with two towers at each end and another in the middle . . . three chambers in each tower, each with a draught and a chimney'. (fn. 85) An inventory of the contents of the building made in 1537 (fn. 86) gives an idea of the accommodation and fittings at that period. The great hall, fitted with a screen ('spere'), had windows facing north and south. It was probably on an upper floor, having a 'nether hall' beneath it. The great chamber, or solar, had at least one window facing west. It was hung with 'old arras' and furnished with forms and stools bearing the Stafford Knot. Its 'great window', partly sealed with English wainscot, was glazed with 30 panes, ten of them casements. Mention of a 'little chamber' under this window suggests that it was in the form of a projecting bay. The principal chambers, apart from those of 'my lord' and 'my lady', included those of John Russell, Lord Henry, and Lord Neville. A series of nurseries was connected by a staircase 'to my lady's chamber'; another stair led from the lord's chamber into the garden. The chapel had doors leading to the great court, to the garden, and to Lord Henry's chamber. It had eight glazed windows and appears to have consisted of a nave and chancel, the latter panelled and fitted with seats. There was also a 'little chapel'. The usual domestic rooms and buildings included a 'styllyng house' in the garden. Also in the garden was a panelled 'suppyng place' having a window and being furnished with a table. Among the outbuildings were barns, stables, and a millhouse. One of the stables was assigned to the water-carrier. A very deep well, slightly north-east of the castle and said to date from the time of Henry IV, (fn. 87) is now covered over.
The demolition of the castle in 1643 did not include the foundations or the bases of the towers. A fragment of walling was also standing when Sir William Jerningham succeeded c. 1788. (fn. 88) He intended at first to strengthen this but eventually had the whole site cleared and the plan exposed. His son, Sir George William Jerningham, started to rebuild on the old foundations, the work being designed and supervised by his brother Edward. (fn. 89) The scheme was never completed but by 15 October 1817 Edward Jerningham was occupying a suite of rooms at the west end, flanked by two towers, and was visited there by the antiquary, William Hamper. (fn. 90) The stone came from a quarry at Tixall (Pirehill hundred). (fn. 91) The design of the building was 'after the style of Edward III' (fn. 92) and is an early example of a castle rebuilt in the Gothic taste. The rebuilt portion consists of two octagonal towers with machicolated and embattled parapets. Between them a screen wall is enriched with arcaded panels and behind this the living rooms rise to three stories. There is evidence that the highest story and a small stair turret were later additions. The extra weight of these together with the insufficient abutment to the wide threecentred arch over the west window has contributed to the instability of the building. (fn. 93) The eastern half of the site consists only of the original foundations. During the Second World War parts of the castle, already in a decayed state, were used by the Home Guard. (fn. 94) The trees surrounding it were felled in 1949, (fn. 95) making the building a more prominent landmark in the surrounding countryside. In 1950 the mound was replanted with mixed deciduous trees and conifers and in the same year the structure was declared unsafe, the resident caretakers left, and visitors were prohibited. (fn. 96) In 1951 reports submitted by the County Planning Officer and by the Old Stafford Society in association with the Georgian Group gave details of the structural condition of the building and made recommendations for its repair and future use. (fn. 97) By 1957, partly as a result of wilful damage and the theft of lead from the roofs, the structure had further deteriorated.
Several mounds and depressions within half a mile of the castle mound may represent part of its outer defences. These include a ditch, partly wet, in the grounds of Castle House. Castle Bank, east of Thornyfields Lane, appears to be in the direct line of the principal approach from the south. An unusually wide rectangular moat, now dry, lies on the north side of the Newport road, about 1,000 yds. south-west of the castle. (fn. 98)
The hill on which the ruins of Stafford castle now stand, with the land sloping down to the River Sow, can probably be identified as Robert de Stafford's 'Monetvile', assessed in 1086 at one hide, and held of him by Walter and Ansger. (fn. 99) Earl Edwin had held this land before the Conquest, (fn. 100) and with Bradley and its members, and Rickerscote, 'Monetvile' completed a compact 20-hide estate, known at least until 1293 as the Liberty of Bradley. (fn. 101) By 1208 the vill here was named Castle (Castell). (fn. 102) From at least 1290 a manor, eventually known as STAFFORD manor or FOREBRIDGE, (fn. 103) but also called the Castle near Stafford (1290), (fn. 104) the Castle of Stafford (1293), (fn. 105) and Castle manor (1399), (fn. 106) has existed here. It has been held by the barons of Stafford until the present day except for certain periods of alienation.
In 1297, when about to go overseas on the king's service, Edmund de Stafford was given licence to lease his manor of Stafford for eight years. (fn. 107) In 1298 and 1303 he settled it on himself and his wife Margaret. (fn. 108) Edmund died in 1308 and his widow, who subsequently married Sir Thomas de Pipe, (fn. 109) was still regarded as Baroness of Stafford (fn. 110) until her son Ralph's coming of age in 1322. (fn. 111)
Edmund Earl of Stafford was killed at the battle of Shrewsbury (21 July 1403), leaving an infant son. (fn. 112) The Castle manor was among the two-thirds of his possessions granted in 1404 to Henry IV's second queen, Joan, as part of her dower. (fn. 113) It was presumably forfeited by her between c. 1419 and 1422 on her deprivation for witchcraft, (fn. 114) since early in 1422 Anne Countess of Stafford, widow of Earl Edmund, was suing her for leave to present, by default, to the Hospital of St. Leonard, which was appurtenant to the castle and demesne of Stafford. (fn. 115) In February 1423 Edmund's son, Humphrey, though still a few months under the age of 21, was given livery of the whole of his inheritance, with issues from August 1422. (fn. 116) On his death in 1460 Anne Duchess of Buckingham and his half-brother, Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, his executors, were given the custody of all the late duke's castles, honors, manors, lands, knight's fees, and advowsons in England until the coming of age of his infant grandson and heir, Henry. (fn. 117) For these they paid an annual farm to the Crown (fn. 118) until 1464 when the grant was revoked and Anne alone was given custody of the lands, surrendering the custody of the heir to the king. (fn. 119) Anne Duchess of Buckingham had married Walter Blount, Lord Mountjoy, by 25 November 1467 (fn. 120) and they jointly controlled the young Henry Stafford's English lands from at least 1470. (fn. 121) Henry Duke of Buckingham was given licence to enter upon his inherited possessions here and elsewhere in England, Wales, the Marches, and Calais, as from Michaelmas 1472, (fn. 122) although he was not of full age until 1475. (fn. 123) His mother's lands returned to him after her death in 1480. (fn. 124) After the attainder and beheading of Henry Duke of Buckingham in 1483, (fn. 125) the stewardship of his Staffordshire lordships and lands was granted by the Crown in 1484 to Thomas Wortley, one of the knights of the body. (fn. 126) With the accession of Henry VII, Edward Duke of Buckingham, son of Henry, was restored to his father's honours, (fn. 127) and in 1498, though not of full age, was given special livery of his possessions in England and elsewhere. (fn. 128) His demesne lands of Stafford manor were usually leased as in 1486–7. (fn. 129)
The Stafford barony lands with other honors and lordships again escheated to the Crown when Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham and Earl of Stafford, was attainted and beheaded in 1521. (fn. 130) Stafford manor was not among the manors restored in 1522 to the former duke's son, Henry Stafford, and his wife Ursula. (fn. 131) It was not until 1531 that Stafford manor (though not the knight's fees and court leet attached to it and to Forebridge) was granted to them in tail, subject to sundry reversions and an annual rent to the Crown. (fn. 132) In 1547 Henry was restored in blood as Baron Stafford. (fn. 133) In 1554, in consequence of his good services to Queen Mary in the rebellion of the Duke of Northumberland and otherwise, Henry and Ursula's lands were confirmed to them to be held by the same rents and services as before the attainder of the late Duke of Buckingham. (fn. 134)
Ursula survived both her husband (d. 1563) and her son, Henry Baron Stafford (d. 1566), and it was only after her death in 1570 that her son Edward Baron Stafford (d. 1603) succeeded to the castle and manor of Stafford and its dependencies. (fn. 135) He died at Stafford castle in 1603, leaving the castle and manor of Stafford with its appurtenances as his only demesnes in the county. (fn. 136) His son Edward Stafford died here in 1625, his heir being an infant grandson Henry, (fn. 137) who was placed in the wardship of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, the Earl Marshal. (fn. 138) On Henry Stafford's death in 1637 still under age, the heir to his lands was his sister Mary, wife of William Howard K.B., (fn. 139) second son of the Earl Marshal. (fn. 140) The heir to the barony, Roger Stafford, son of Richard, youngest son of Henry Baron Stafford (1547–63), surrendered his claim to the king in 1639 and died c. 1640, when the barony (created 1547) became extinct as did the direct male line of the Stafford family. (fn. 141) On 11 November 1640, however, William Howard, already Baron Stafford, was created Viscount Stafford. (fn. 142) Stafford manor and Forebridge, sequestrated with other of Viscount Stafford's estates for recusancy, were discharged in 1649, (fn. 143) but he was attainted and executed in 1680 for complicity in the Popish Plot. (fn. 144) The manor, with the castle, was assured in 1681 to his widow. (fn. 145) She and her son, Henry Howard (cr. Earl of Stafford in 1688) were found to have conveyed these by 1680 to Cardinal Howard and others in trust for the College or Society de Propaganda Fide in Rome, for the celebration of 4,000 masses a year for 51 years for the soul of the late viscount, and, thereafter, for beginning the process for his canonization. (fn. 146) The premises were seized into the king's hands as a result, and a warrant was authorized in 1694 for the grant of the property (called Stafford castle) to Charles Duke of Bolton. (fn. 147) The effect of this grant is not clear, since Henry Howard's lands surveyed in 1698, while he was in France with James II, included the manor, then called Forebridge, with the 'site of the old castle called Stafford castle' and a messuage called The Lodge, with about 100 acres in Castle Church parish and meadow lands there. (fn. 148) These were settled in 1720 on his nephew and heir, William Earl of Stafford (d. 1734). (fn. 149) By 1788 this estate had passed to Sir William Jerningham Bt. (fn. 150) grandson of Mary, sister of John Paul, Earl Stafford (d. 1767). (fn. 151)
Lord Stafford in 1956 owned considerable property in this part of the parish, including Hill and Burley Fields farms and the Castle Wood. (fn. 152)
In 1299 ½ carucate in Bradley without a messuage, rent of mills in Stafford borough, fixed rents from various manors, rents of cummin and pepper and of six arrows, and annual rents of frithfee and wakefee were owed to the Castle manor. (fn. 153) In 1403 and subsequently these rents were accounted for apart from the manor and were known as Stafford Rents. (fn. 154) Assised rents and rents for a term at the will of the lord then came from the vill of Castle, the Green in Forebridge, Rowley, the Lees, and Burton as well as from Bradley, Apeton, Billington, Littywood, Longnor, and The Reule (all in Bradley), Coppenhall, Dunston, Stretton, and Levedale (all in Penkridge), and from land in the parishes of Seighford and Stone and the extra-parochial area of Tillington near Stafford. (fn. 155) Along with these rents there were the proceeds of leases of the fisheries at Broad Eye (Brode) and 'Le Smalemede', of the capital messuages of Bradley and Rowley and of demesne lands there, and also of tenements and mills in the town of Stafford, (fn. 156) on the other side of the river. The proceeds of sale of small rents, including hay from Woollaston and Alstone in Bradley, hens from Levedale, six barbed arrows from Butterhill in Coppenhall, were 8s. 11d. in all. (fn. 157) An annual rent or custom of frithfee, wakefee, and 'kelghe' were paid by the vills of Bradley, Longnor, Apeton, Woollaston, Alstone, Brough and Reule, Barton, Shredicote, Billington, Mitton in Penkridge, Burton and Rickerscote, Stafford Castle, 'Mersshe', and Rowley. (fn. 158)
This group of vills and other tenements forming Stafford Rents varied from time to time, as by the inclusion of lands of Ralph Basset, lord of Drayton, inherited after 1390 by the earls of Stafford; (fn. 159) or by the tenements in Stafford town in the lord's hands after the death of Roger Bradshawe. (fn. 160) Some of these properties were still in Lord Stafford's possession in 1937. (fn. 161)
In 1293 assize of bread and beer was claimed for the Liberty of Bradley attached to the castle. (fn. 162) By 1387 the name, and possibly the location, of the court leet, as well as of the three-weekly court, for what were still then described as the members of Bradley had been changed from Castle manor to Castleforebridge. (fn. 163) Profits of the courts, beyond the fees of the steward and other ministers, were then valued at 30s. a year. (fn. 164) By 1404 these were reckoned at 40s. (fn. 165) and in 1440 what was then described as the Liberty of Forebridge was worth £4 11s. 11d. a year beyond the bailiff's fee of 40s. and other allowances. (fn. 166) The townships presenting at the view of frankpledge in 1472 and 1473 and also from 1499 to 1503 were Tillington (near Stafford), Alstone, Brough and Reule, Billington, Longnor, Barton and Apeton, Woollaston and Shredicote, and Bradley (all then in Bradley parish), with Burton, Rickerscote, and Forebridge (subsequently in Castle Church parish). (fn. 167) The Liberty and leet of Forebridge were valued in 1521 at £4 16s. 2d. (fn. 168) The bailiff's fee was 60s. 8d. by 1522 (fn. 169) when this office was given by the king to Edward Littleton after the fall of the Duke of Buckingham. (fn. 170) In 1524 Henry Lord Stafford gave the office to Thomas Barbour at fee and wages of 60s. 8d. from lands and tenements in Forebridge. (fn. 171) On 19 October 1532 courts were held at Stafford castle, (fn. 172) where, it is said, they continued to be held, (fn. 173) although the view of frankpledge was at Forebridge in 1570. (fn. 174) From at least 1625 to 1631 courts were again held at Forebridge, when the High Steward of the leet and manor was Sir Walter Chetwynd of Ingestre (Pirehill hundred) and of Grendon (Warws.), and the under-steward Thomas Worswick, (fn. 175) Mayor of Stafford, in 1622. (fn. 176) The townships included in the leet were still the same as in 1472. (fn. 177)
In 1801 the leet of Forebridge was said to include the whole of the parish of Castle Church, and also Coppenhall and Mitton in Penkridge and all the townships then in Bradley parish, thus excluding Alstone, one of the earlier members of Bradley, then in Haughton parish. (fn. 178)
In 1242 the heirs of Roger the tailor (cissor) were holding ½ fee in 'Borton' of Robert de Stafford, (fn. 181) but in 1279 William le Teyllur of Burton, otherwise William son of Roger le Tayllur, declared he was holding nothing by inheritance from his father in Burton. (fn. 182) By 1247 or 1248 Julia widow of William le 'Plumer' (? Palmer) was claiming one-third of 3½ acres of land and one-third of a nook of pasture in Burton as dower. (fn. 183) Roger le Palmer of Burton by Stafford and William le Palmer of the same occur as witnesses to a grant of land in Burton in 1283, (fn. 184) and Richard le Palmer and William occur there in 1310. (fn. 185) In 1444 Simon Palmer was holding the manor of Burton by military service, paying no money rent but doing suit at the Earl of Stafford's court every three weeks. (fn. 186) In 1452 he paid 5s. 6d. rent for ½ messuage and 1 virgate of land leased to him that year, (fn. 187) but no manor is mentioned, and this may be the ½ messuage and virgate for which Peter Robyns paid 5s. 6d. rent as a tenant at will of Lord Stafford in 1488. (fn. 188)
An estate in Burton is said to have been held by 1432 or 1433 by Robert Whitgreave, and to have descended through another Robert (fn. 189) who is said to have died in 1448 or 1449. (fn. 190) His son Humphrey was followed by a son Robert on whom in 1524 the capital messuage was settled, on his marriage with Margery, daughter of Thomas Staunford, Stanford, or Stamford of Rowley. (fn. 191) Robert died in 1550 and was succeeded by his son Humphrey. (fn. 192) The estate descended in the Whitgreave family (along with Great Bridgeford in Seighford and Moseley Old Hall in Bushbury) (fn. 193) until the beginning of the 18th century when the elder branch of the family became extinct and the estate was sold. (fn. 194) Burton farm on which was the moat formerly surrounding the ancient seat of the family was repurchased by Francis, second son of G. T. Whitgreave, a short time before 1851. (fn. 195) Burton Hall was acquired c. 1930 as a social and sports club by the British Reinforced Concrete Co., the moat was drained and a dance hall built. (fn. 196) The bar was added in 1956. (fn. 197)
During the 17th century the estate seems to have been tenanted by the family of Riley or Ryley, John, son of John Ryley of Burton Hall, dying in 1664 and Edward Ryley of Burton in 1669. (fn. 198)
The mid-19th-century Hall, completed in 1855 from designs by E. W. Pugin, (fn. 199) is built on the ancient moated site, and is a gabled building of red brick. On the front the letter 'W' is picked out in blue bricks. The interior contains elaborate fittings in the Gothic style.
RICKERSCOTE (Ricardescote), one of the berewicks of Bradley in 1086 and assessed at 2½ hides, was held before the Conquest by Earl Edwin and after it by Robert de Stafford, whose tenant there was one Robert. (fn. 200) The overlordship descended in the Stafford barony until at least 1697. (fn. 201) In 1294 Hervey Bagot was holding an intermediate lordship here (fn. 202) which may have descended by 1310 to William Bagot. (fn. 203)
This holding has been identified as part of the ¾ fee held in 1166 of Robert de Stafford by Roger vigilis or Le Waite (fn. 204) who gave land there to Stone Priory (fn. 205) and whose daughter Cecily conveyed ½ virgate there some time between 1224 and 1227 to the prior and canons of Kenilworth. (fn. 206) Hugh la Weyte held ½ fee in Rickerscote of the barony of Stafford by 1243, (fn. 207) but nothing further is heard of this family in connexion with the vill, unless Hugh la Wayte can be identified with Hugh de Akesey (of Doxey in Seighford, Pirehill hundred) whose widow Beatrice and brother Robert de Dokeseye were disputing in 1275 and 1277 with Richard Attewell of Rickerscote concerning rights of common of pasture appurtenant to his free tenement in Rickerscote. (fn. 208)
About the middle of the 15th century what was described as the manor of Rickerscote was settled on Avice, daughter and heir of Sir Richard Stafford, eldest son of Sir Humphrey Stafford of Hook (Dors.), with other manors including Littywood in Bradley. (fn. 209) After her death it passed to her cousin Humphrey Stafford, who died in 1461 when his heir was another cousin, Humphrey Stafford, lord of Southwick. (fn. 210) This Humphrey Stafford died in 1469, holding, of the Duke of Buckingham, ½ fee in Rickerscote for which his heirs still owed 50s. in 1471. (fn. 211) After this date the vill or manor of Rickerscote seems to have been retained in demesne as part of the barony and within the leet jurisdiction of the manor of Forebridge between at least 1472 and 1681. (fn. 212)
Sampson Barnfield, 'eldest son of Barnfield of Dunston', seems to have been the principal resident here in about 1679. (fn. 213) A house and land (51 a.) in Rickerscote were held by Roger Hinton who died c. 1685. (fn. 214) William Goldsmith, who died in 1703, also held land here as well as in Burton and Risingbrook. (fn. 215)
A fishery in Rickerscote was held of the barony in 1444 by John Alde at a rent of 3s. 4d. (fn. 216) and in 1453 by John 'de Alle'. (fn. 217) This may be the fishery held by Hugh Goldsmith from about 1520 to 1532 for which he owed 3s. 4d. in 1533. (fn. 218) He was still holding it in 1535. (fn. 219) In 1627 William Gouldsmyth was amerced at the view of frankpledge and court baron of Forebridge for not scouring his part of the River Penk. (fn. 220)
The central block and the south cross-wing of the farmhouse known as Rickerscote Hall are timberframed and date from c. 1600. The framing at the front, exposed above first-floor level, is in the form of square panels with quadrant ornament. Elsewhere the timbering has been encased in brick. Near the north end of the central block a single chamfered post, visible internally, may indicate the position of the open truss of a two-bay medieval hall.
One hide at SILKMORE (Selchemore) formed one of the berewicks of Bradley in 1086 and was held by Robert de Stafford in chief. (fn. 221) It was subsequently absorbed into the Castle manor with which demesne land in Silkmore descended until at least 1788. (fn. 222)
By about 1403 a capital messuage in Rowley was held of Edmund Earl of Stafford by Henry Haymes, at a rent of 33s. 4d. (fn. 223) Humphrey Earl of Stafford and Duke of Buckingham (d. 1460) leased it to various tenants. (fn. 224) One of these farmers was, presumably, Thomas Fyssher who paid 39s. 8d. as a tenant-at-will for a tenement in Rowley in 1452. (fn. 225) The overlordship of this capital messuage descended with the barony until at least 1588. (fn. 226)
Robert Standford or Staunford, who had married Fisher's daughter Elizabeth (fn. 227) or Isabel, (fn. 228) paid 2d. rent as a free tenant for the capital messuage in 1486 as well as 40s. as tenant-at-will for an orchard and tenements called the farm of Rowley. (fn. 229) In 1502 or 1503 Isabel Stanford, then a widow, was engaged in a dispute concerning a messuage, land, and meadow in 'Rowley in the parish of Castle Church', held by her in demesne as of fee, with Thomas Stanford, described as of Rowley. (fn. 230) Thomas, who was Robert's third son, was M.P. for Stafford 1529–30. (fn. 231) He was dead by 1535, (fn. 232) having held land in Rowley with what was described as the capital messuage, (fn. 233) which was the subject of dispute in 1539 between his son and heir William Stanford and Henry Lord Stafford. (fn. 234) Lord Stafford claimed that this capital messuage had been restored to him in 1531 by the Crown after the forfeiture of the barony, (fn. 235) while Stanford submitted evidences of his family's holdings in Rowley from the time of Edward III to that of Henry VIII. (fn. 236) During this suit, which lasted until at least 1547, (fn. 237) a very old man deposed, in 1539, that he had lived with Robert Stanford and had heard him say that the house standing above the Green of 'Rowlowe' and in the orchard was the Lord Stafford's, called the 'Halle of Rowlowe', which had by that time become a 'caulf' house. (fn. 238) Agreement had been reached between the parties by at least 1552, when William Stanford granted an annuity out of what was called the manor of Rowley to his half-brother Roger. (fn. 239) In 1562 William settled this so-called manor on his son Edward and Edward's wife Jane, with successive remainders to their sons William and Edward, and, dying in 1570 seised of the manor and a messuage and 120 acres in Rowley, was succeeded by his grandson, William, then under age. (fn. 240) William succeeded also to the manor of Packington in Weeford and to land in Handsworth (both in Offlow hundred). (fn. 241) William Stanford, described as of Packington, was living in 1583. (fn. 242)
The next link in the descent is not clear, but in 1588 Edward Lord Stafford conveyed Rowley manor to Edward Rowley and William Brett. (fn. 243) They may have been trustees for the purpose of transferring the manor to another branch of the Stanford family since, in 1607, Sir Robert Stanford of Perry Hall died seised of it, and also of the site of the house of the former Austin Friars in Forebridge, his heir being a son Edward. (fn. 244) Sir Robert was the son of Sir William Stanford of Gray's Inn, M.P. for Stafford (1542, 1545–7) and for Newcastle under Lyme (1547–52), Justice of Common Pleas, (fn. 245) and kinsman and supporter of William Stanford of Rowley in the dispute of c. 1539. (fn. 246) In 1610 Edward Stanford joined with his wife Mary in a conveyance of the manor of Rowley (and also of the site of the Austin friary) to Richard Berington (fn. 247) who had married Edward's sister Anne, (fn. 248) and who died in 1612 holding manor and friary land in chief, by knight service. (fn. 249) Richard Berington was succeeded by a minor son John, (fn. 250) who is said to have been holding the manor in 1660. (fn. 251) 'Mr. Berrington' was living at Rowley Hall in 1679 or 1680. (fn. 252) In 1721 a John Berington made a conveyance of the manor to Thomas Hitchecocke. (fn. 253)
The present Rowley Hall was built c. 1817 by William Keen, (fn. 254) and George Keen was the occupant in 1851. (fn. 255) Part of the Rowley Hall Estate, some 120 acres, was sold before 1868 for building development. (fn. 256) By 1896 only 50 acres of park and farm were attached to the Hall. (fn. 257) The hall, a two-story mansion of stone ashlar with a semicircular Ionic porch, is now (1957) a Home Office Remand Home for girls. It was described soon after its erection c. 1817 as an 'elegant house'. (fn. 258)
By 1452 one of the principal tenants-at-will in Forebridge was John Barbor or Barbour. (fn. 259) By 1486 or 1487 Humphrey Barbour, his son, was the principal free tenant there, (fn. 260) as was Humphrey's son Robert in 1518. (fn. 261) Robert, who was given the office of bailiff of the Liberty of Forebridge in 1524, (fn. 262) died in 1531 as lord of Flashbrook in Adbaston (Pirehill hundred) and holding what was described as a capital messuage in Forebridge and Rowley, in which his widow, Joyce, daughter of Lewis Eyton, continued to live. (fn. 263) His heir was his son John (fn. 264) whose holding in Forebridge in 1543 was the most considerable among the lay tenants and included a house (tenanted by one Ralph Dickens) with croft and leasow of 7 acres and other named crofts, meadows, and pastures. (fn. 265) This was apparently sold c. 1600 to a family called Leigh, of London, who sold it c. 1615 to the Drakeford family. (fn. 266) In 1732 the house, Green Hall, and the estate were owned by Richard Drakeford. (fn. 267) In 1809 Edward Drakeford sold part of the estate, a messuage and tenement called Silvercroft, to Benjamin Rogers who built the house called Forebridge Villa (since 1907 St. Joseph's Convent) there. (fn. 268) Green Hall was bought in 1922 by the County Council from W. E. Pickering and used for a time as the preparatory section of the Girls' High School. Since 1949 it has been occupied by the Architect's Dept. of the County Council Education Committee. (fn. 269)
Gregory King records c. 1680 that shields of arms of the Drakefords and others were set in the windows of Green Hall. (fn. 270) In 1732 the house appears to have had a three-gabled front and a large barn near the road. (fn. 271) It was rebuilt c. 1825 when it was given an impressive stucco facade of seven bays. (fn. 272) The highest row of windows is constructed in the roof parapet and has no rooms behind it; possibly there was an intention to build another story at some future date. The iron gate and overthrow were formerly in the stable yard, now demolished.
In 1208 one Hugh son of Ralph conveyed to Eudes Prior of the Hospital of St. John, Stafford, 40 acres of land in Castle. (fn. 273) After the dissolution of the free chapel or hospital in 1547 (fn. 274) its lands here and elsewhere were granted by the Crown in 1550 to the burgesses of Stafford for the endowment of a free grammar school. (fn. 275) At some date between 1551 and 1553, one William Tully, to whom the farm of these lands had been leased by the prior or keeper of the hospital in 1536 or 1537, and some of the tenants here asserted their right to withhold their rents on the grounds that the hospital was founded for relief of the poor (fn. 276) and as such was not subject to the statute of dissolution. The burgesses seem to have proved their claim by showing that, for as long as they could remember, this free chapel or hospital had not maintained or relieved any poor. (fn. 277) In 1588, however, the queen granted to Edward Wymarke of London what was described as the free chapel of St. John the Baptist in Forebridge, with all lands and tenements, to hold by fealty and at a rent of 2s. 6d. a year. (fn. 278) A similar grant was made to William Tipper and Robert Dawe in 1592 at a rent of 3s. 4d. and the same service. (fn. 279) By about 1607 some possessions of the late hospital were in the hands of George Cradock, who at his death in 1611 held the chapel, with a messuage called St. John's House, four cottages, and a pasture called St. John's Birch, all in chief in socage. (fn. 280) His heir was his son, Matthew Craddock, (fn. 281) who by 1612 or 1613 was owing £5 9s. annual rent to the school of Stafford for what was described as the great house adjoining St. John's Chapel in Forebridge (in the occupation of a tenant), with three cottages, and for land called Stychfields. (fn. 282) At his death in 1636 Matthew Cradock held 'a chapel called St. John's Chapel in Forebridge' which passed to his son George. (fn. 283)
The hospital and chapel are thought to have stood at the junction of Lichfield Road and White Lion Street on the site now occupied by the White Lion Inn. (fn. 284) The hospital is known to have existed in 1208. Its seal depicts a cruciform building with 13thcentury features (fn. 285) and may possibly perpetuate an approximate image of the chapel as it was when the matrix was struck. The west part of the White Lion Inn, now used as a clubroom, is built of stone and may represent the remains of the chapel. At the rear a single pilaster buttress and part of a windowopening are visible and some masonry is exposed in the lower part of the gable end. Elsewhere the walls are covered with roughcast but there are indications of further buttresses. The exposed masonry suggests considerable rebuilding in the 16th or 17th century and a stone wall in the yard to the south is probably of the same date, although containing earlier material reused. The eastern part of the inn consists of a timber-framed two-story house of the late 16th or early 17th century with a gabled wing, probably originally a porch, projecting towards the street.
By 1486 or 1487 a free tenement within Forebridge, namely Edmondsfurlong in Radford (Ratford), was held by the Rector of 'Spittell', (fn. 286) otherwise the hospital of St. Leonard. (fn. 287) This remained with the hospital, being held of the lords Stafford for a chief rent of 14d. (fn. 288) and was described in 1543 as 1 acre lying by Radford (Ratford) Bridge, called Edmondesfurlong, (fn. 289) or otherwise as one 'place' of land. (fn. 290) At this date the other free tenements of the parson of the Spital in Forebridge included one 'flat' called Pakkefurlong in the Greenfield, two distinct acres in the same field, one of them abutting upon the pit, and also a croft adjoining this same field and containing about 8 acres. (fn. 291) Besides this share of the arable he had two pastures, one of about 14 acres and the other of about 6 acres, lying near the Spital chapel, with two days' math of meadow. (fn. 292) In 1550 this pasture land lying beside the 'free chapel of St. Leonard' with the parcel of meadow and also 9 acres in the Greenfield, all formerly held by the hospital, were granted by Edward VI to his grammar school at Stafford. (fn. 293) The barony retained some rights, for in 1588 14d. was due from the executors of 'Mr. Sutton' in chief rent for the 'Spittle lands'. (fn. 294) By 1633 the chamberlains of Stafford were paying a rent to Mistress Stafford's bailiff for these lands. (fn. 295)
The land in the vill of Forebridge given by Ralph Lord Stafford in 1343 for the foundation of a house of Austin Friars (fn. 296) with later endowments (fn. 297) appears to have lain in the region still known as the Green, since in the survey of the barony's tenements here in 1543 the late friars' churchyard, standing 'uppon the myddes of the Greene', was named as a boundary to a tenant's holding. (fn. 298) In 1544 lands and such buildings as remained of the former Austin Friars were granted in fee by Henry VIII to Edward Stanford (or Staunford) and included a croft called Friars' Orchard, pasture called the Friars' Field, and also the site of the late Austin Friars, with a croft and churchyard. (fn. 299) Edward Stanford remained in possession of these lands until in 1554 Queen Mary granted in fee to Thomas Reeve and Giles Isham the site of the late house of Austin Friars in Forebridge by Stafford with all buildings, lands, &c. within the precinct, and a croft of land called 'le freers orchard' belonging to the house. (fn. 300) Reeve and Isham, it is said, then sold their rights in the Friars' Orchard to Lord Stafford, who attempted to eject Edward Stanford. (fn. 301) In 1562, however, Stanford settled the site of the house, the 'circuit', and other appurtenances on his wife Jane with successive remainders to their two sons William and Edward. He died at Rowley in 1568, holding the property in chief as 1/100 knight's fee, his heir being his son William, still under age. (fn. 302) In 1578 or 1579 William Stanford (who had inherited Rowley and other manors from his grandfather in 1570) (fn. 303) conveyed the site to Thomas Repingdon and others presumably for a settlement (fn. 304) since Sir Robert Stanford of Rowley at his death in 1607 was found to be holding the site and precincts of the late friary, with the graveyard, some 2½ acres, of the king in chief as 1/100 fee. (fn. 305) His heir was his son Edward, (fn. 306) who conveyed the site of the friary with Rowley in 1610 to Richard Berington. (fn. 307)
A messuage called Rising Brook ('Risom Brook') was held at his death in 1570 by William Stanford of Rowley, along with 42 acres of land, all in socage, of Lord Stafford. (fn. 308) By will of 1663 Simon Fowler left a messuage, land, and tenements there to his wife Ann, for life, and then to his daughter Margaret Backhouse, widow. (fn. 309) There were two little houses there c. 1680. (fn. 310) By 1778 the owner of Rising Brook House was a Mr. Moore, (fn. 311) and c. 1824 an estate of about 35 acres there was owned by John Moore of The Toft in Penkridge. (fn. 312)
Land called Lee or La Lee, now in Castle Church but then within the manor or territory of Billington in Bradley, was frequently conveyed during the 13th century by or to members of the family of Caverswall, and between c. 1260 and 1270 Richard de Lee, Thomas son of Richard de la Leye, and Nicholas son of Thomas de la Leye are all found conveying their rights in ½ virgate in Billington to Roger de Caverswall. (fn. 313) At what may have been a slightly later date, a house and garden with lands variously described as the fields of 'Leg' or in 'Le Leye within the manor of Billington' were conveyed to William de Caverswall by John de Weohaliz (or John son of John de Wethales), or Adam son of John. (fn. 314) In 1562 Henry Lord Stafford and his wife Ursula granted a lease for lives of one-half of Lees Farm to Thomas Backhouse (or Chamberlain), his wife Margaret, and his son John. (fn. 315) It may have been this John Chamberlain or Backhouse, described as of the Lees Farm, who with his wife Anne and son John received a lease for their lives of one-half of the farm in 1589, at a rent of £3 1s. 8d. (fn. 316) Meanwhile, what was presumably the other half was leased for their three lives, in 1588 at a similar rent, to George Backhouse or Chamberlain, his wife Margaret, and his son Francis. (fn. 317) On 1 July 1608 this George Chamberlain assigned his rights to John Stanley of Alstone (then in Bradley), (fn. 318) but on 14 July Lord Stafford made a further lease of a moiety to George and Margaret and a son John. (fn. 319)
In 1695 William Barnesley of the Inner Temple and others, as trustees, leased Lees House, then described as in Castle Church parish, to Humphrey Goldsmith for a term still running in 1701 when they made a conveyance of it in moieties to Thomas Salt of Beffcote and John Lees of Cowley (both in Gnosall). (fn. 320) In 1711 one-half of one of these moieties was conveyed by John Lees the elder of Cowley to Thomas Salt of Beffcote with an equivalent share of barns and other appurtenances (the tenant then being one Vincent Payne), to the use of John the elder for life, with reversion to John Lees the younger. (fn. 321) Thomas Salt of Stafford and Thomas Lees of Cowley, yeomen, in 1753 made a lease for 21 years to William Jennings, apparently already tenant there, of what was described as The White House or Lees House, at rents of £20 a year to each of them, with 6s. 8d. chief rent to the king or his assigns and 4d. a year for right of way over the Lees Grounds. (fn. 322) All timber and mineral rights were reserved to the lessors. (fn. 323) Mrs. Worswick, mother of Thomas Worswick lived at Lees Farm c. 1780. (fn. 324) By about 1840 the owner of Lees Farm was Samuel Wright, his tenant being Sampson Byrd, while what was then named The White House was still owned by Lord Stafford (tenant, James Eldershaw). (fn. 325) In 1921 Leese Farm covered over 229 acres lying in the parishes of Castle Church, Bradley, and Coppenhall. (fn. 326) The farmhouse appears to have been rebuilt early in the 19th century.
Hugh de Dokesey (or Doxey) was a tenant of the barony of Stafford in Silkmore early in the 13th century, and his widow, Alice, was seeking custody of his lands in 1230. (fn. 327) In 1255 another Hugh de Doxey conveyed two crofts in Silkmore to Walter, master of the hospital of St. Lazarus, Radford, half the land to be held in free alms for ever by his successors. (fn. 328) A later master, William de Madeley, exchanged a piece of marsh (mora) here for land in Forebridge with his overlords, Margaret Lady Stafford and her second husband Sir Thomas de Pipe, who conveyed it in 1320 to Richard son of Thomas Wenlock of Stafford, together with another piece of marsh in the same place. (fn. 329) Richard also held at this time a piece of marsh of Margaret de Doxey and Thomas de Halghton or Haughton (her husband). (fn. 330) Thomas de Halughton (or Haughton) and his wife Margaret still held demense land in Silkmore in 1335, when they were granted free warren there. (fn. 331)
The prior and canons of St. Thomas's, Stafford, acquired some holding here in or after 1383. (fn. 332) Land in Silkmore, formerly held by the church of St. Mary, Stafford, for the endowment of Jesus Mass, was given by the Crown in 1563 or 1564 to William Forster. (fn. 333)
In 1572 Thomas Knevett conveyed to Matthew and William Cradock and Matthew's heirs lands and tenements in Silkmore, then described as in the parish of Castle, near Stafford, with a free fishery in the Penk, (fn. 334) presumably adjoining. A few months later, in 1573, William Cradock and his wife Timothea made over their interest to Matthew. (fn. 335) In 1575 Matthew Cradock and his wife Elizabeth conveyed two barns and land there to Edmund Cooper. (fn. 336) In 1578 this same Matthew and Elizabeth, together with Elizabeth Cradock, widow, and Francis and William Cradock, conveyed to Anthony Colclough and his wife Clara this free fishery, and also a messuage with a toft, dovecote, a garden, and land here. (fn. 337) Sir Anthony Colclough died in Ireland soon after 1585 or 1586 and the manor or reputed manor of Silkmore then remained with his widow as tenant in demesne as of freehold for life. (fn. 338) On her remarriage in about 1587 it was held in her right by her second husband, Sir Thomas Williams, clerk of the cheque and muster master of Ireland. (fn. 339) The land was leased to tenants during Anthony's lifetime, and until at least 1590. (fn. 340) Anthony and Clara had two or more sons. (fn. 341) In 1621 Sir Thomas Colclough and Adam conveyed a messuage, toft, garden, and dovecot in Silkmore, with a free fishery, to Richard Drakeford, (fn. 342) and a Richard Drakeford still held land in Silkmore alongside the Penk in 1732. (fn. 343)
Thomas Backhouse or Chamberlain was holding land in Silkmore by 1629, (fn. 344) and in 1650 George Chamberlain or Backhouse and his wife Margery conveyed a fishery and land there to John Doody, (fn. 345) probably by way of settlement, since meadows in Silkmore, formerly held by Thomas Backhouse, were owned by William Goldsmith at the time of his death in 1703. (fn. 346) Goldsmith held also a capital messuage of Silkmore (in which he lived) and a so-called manor or 'royalty' and land there, which he left for their lives to Margaret Wetton (described as his servant) and her daughter Mary, with the fee simple, after their deaths, to his kinsman Benjamin Parker. (fn. 347) In 1704 Benjamin made a conveyance to Margaret Wetton (fn. 348) who was possibly dead by 1720 when Edward Parker and Mary conveyed the manor and a fishery 'in the waters of the Penk ditch' to Thomas Parker, (fn. 349) probably by way of settlement, since they were again dealing by fine with the manor of 1741. (fn. 350) In 1751 Mary Parker, then a widow, suffered a recovery of the manor and fishery (fn. 351) and on her death in 1787 the estate passed to a John Parker. (fn. 352) By 1763 the manor was held by Abraham Hoskins of Shenstone Park and his wife Sarah, and another Abraham and Sarah, of Burton. (fn. 353) An Abraham and Sarah Hoskins conveyed it in 1770 to Coote Molesworth and Luke Currie, whether in trust or as a sale does not appear. (fn. 354) In 1788 Sir George Chetwynd and his wife Jane made a conveyance to Thomas Mottershaw, (fn. 355) who was dead by 1834 when his successor as tenant or owner of Silkmore House was Thomas Hartshorn. (fn. 356)
Silkmore Hall has a symmetrical late-18th-century front with three-light sash windows, some semicircular in shape. It consists of a central block of three stories with lower flanking wings. The garden front, stair-case hall, and other features date from c. 1825. The house is now (1957) divided into flats.
Castle Church, because it is so low-lying, has always contained marshland and been subject to flooding by the rivers Sow and Penk in the north and east of the parish. In 1224 one Master Robert de Fyleby was ordered to lower, at his own cost, a stank or dam he had raised in Forebridge, whereby 10 acres of meadow and 10 acres of pasture had been submerged. (fn. 357) In 1372 Lord Stafford had a stew called 'Spitelpol' in Forebridge. (fn. 358) By 1387 it was grown over with rushes (fn. 359) and in 1399 was a marsh. (fn. 360) This had presumably dried out by 1404 when the herbage of Spittal Pool occurs. (fn. 361) There was a pool at Broad Eye in 1299 then used as a fishpond. (fn. 362) There is evidence that Silkmore was marshland in the early 14th century, when Richard son of Thomas Wenlock was given leave to make a stank on land there. (fn. 363) No systematic draining of the marshland was undertaken, however, until the 19th century. An act for draining and inclosing Forebridge was passed in 1800 (fn. 364) and under the award made in 1851 a network of drains running into the Sow was constructed and the Sow itself straightened and deepened to take the increased volume of water. The main drains constructed were the Broad-Eye-Pans-Forebridge Drain and the Rickerscote Drain. The first ran through Broad Meadow to the Green and then parallel to the old course of the Sow to join the Sow just before its confluence with the Penk. This drain was crossed by the Spittal Brook, which was embanked to form a drainage ditch until it joined the old course of the Sow, and by a drain across Spittal Meadows called Hough Drain which joined Forebridge Drain just before it went into the Sow. Dove Meadow Drain was constructed in a west-east direction to join Hough Drain. A large number of small cross-drains from Forebridge Drain ran into the old course of the Sow. Rickerscote Drain was constructed parallel to the Penk and was joined by the Pothooks Brook and by Silkmoor Drain. (fn. 365) In 1884, under the Tillington Drainage Act, Broad-Eye was made an outfall area for Tillington and the BroadEye-Pans Drain was widened and deepened and joined by the Tillington Outfall Drain and smaller drains. (fn. 366) All these drains still form the drainage system for this land with the result that there are good water meadows by the Penk which can be used as cattle pasture most of the year while the land drained by the Sow which has not been taken up by housing, though of poorer quality, is also used as cattle pasture. The land is still liable to occasional flooding in the winter.
Inclosure of land in Castle Church started at an early date. In 1372 Lord Stafford had an inclosed pasture in Forebridge and a park, presumably also inclosed. (fn. 367) In 1396–7 demesne lands of the Castle manor were inclosed within a bank and thorn hedge 186 perches long. An area called Smallmead, also demesne, was inclosed at this date by a bank and hedge 124 perches long. (fn. 368) There was also a park 'of the Hyde' by this date. (fn. 369) In 1399 and in 1404 the demesne lands of the Castle manor still included the inclosed pasture in Forebridge and a pasture called 'Thevesdych'. (fn. 370) In 1460 the demesne of the manor included a several pasture containing three fields, Great Hyde Field, Castle Field, and 'Maynardsgreve' Field, and a pasture called the Hough. (fn. 371)
Land called Forebridge waste, lying between the houses in Forebridge and the parish church, was inclosed by Lord Stafford about 1512. (fn. 372) In 1555 some of the inhabitants of Forebridge broke through the hedge surrounding it, alleging that it obstructed their way to their parish church and to market, though, in defence, it was stated that at the time of the inclosure Lord Stafford had left sufficient common for the tenants and also land for a highway adjoining. (fn. 373)
The only common field surviving in Forebridge in 1543 was the Green Field, lying between the road from Stafford to Radford Bridge and the Wolverhampton road. (fn. 374) By this date the holdings in the field appear to have been consolidated into compact blocks of land, some of which had their own names. (fn. 375) There were numerous crofts and inclosed pastures in Forebridge at this date and one common meadow, Poole Meadow. (fn. 376)
By 1851 about 120 acres of land remained uninclosed in Castle Church comprising the Green Field and the Green Common, both in Forebridge, Benty Dole Meadow by the Penk, a small amount of land in Lammascote, north of the Sow, Hyde Lea Common and Adgetts Common and Pen Peck Common, both at Rickerscote. (fn. 377) All this land was then inclosed, 5 acres on the Lichfield road being allotted to the parishioners of Castle Church which were thenceforth known as the Green Common. (fn. 378) This was used by the parishioners of Castle Church as grazing land until the First World War under regulations drawn up in 1801 for the administration of the old Green Common which laid down that each householder who was a parishioner might turn in one gelding or mare, or one milking cow, or two two-year-old stirks or yearlings from 'Old Mayday' to 'Old Michaelmas day', three weeks in and three weeks out, but any number of cattle between 'Old Michaelmas day' and 'Old Candlemas day', such householders paying each 5s. a year and informing the pinner of the kind of cattle they meant to lay on the common. (fn. 379) The charge had risen by 1851 to 10s. a cow and 12s. a horse. (fn. 380) Under the Defence of the Realm Act it was used for allotments from 1917. Despite the lapse of the powers of this Act in 1923 and a warning from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in 1929 that since that date the allotmentholders had been encroachers and trespassers, (fn. 381) it continued until 1957 to be held as allotments but was then in process of being sold to the English Electric Co. Ltd. (fn. 382) Meetings of commoners were still held in 1956.
An interesting example of agrarian practice in the mid-18th century occurs in a lease of Lees Farm in 1753. The lessee was forbidden to plough or keep in tillage any of the arable for above four crops together and must then let all land thus tilled lie four years before it was broken up again or otherwise converted into tillage; he must not sow above 1 acre in any one year with flax seed; he must not sell any of the hay, fodder, or straw that should grow there but must consume this with beasts and cattle and spread dung in a husbandlike manner, leaving the last winter's 'mink' on some convenient place for the lessors. (fn. 383) The lessors agreed to repair the house and to make an allowance of 40s. in any one year for each of the nine pieces of arable marled in turn 'in a good husbandlike manner', i.e. '200 tumbrell loads to an acre', until the whole farm should be once marled over. (fn. 384)
The soil of the parish was described as an excellent marly loam in 1811. (fn. 385) The major part of the farming land, however, is now used as pasture for cattle.
The church of St. Mary 'in the castle of Stafford' is first specifically mentioned in 1252. (fn. 386) It was then stated that this church had existed from the time of the Conquest and that its advowson had belonged to the royal free chapel of St. Mary, Stafford, until it was given in the reign of Henry II by Robert de Stafford (II) to Stone Priory. (fn. 387) Robert's grant of his chapel of Stafford had included, however, the tithes, churches, and other property belonging to it. (fn. 388) In 1253 it was decided that the king should recover seisin of this chapel (fn. 389) and in 1255 he granted it to the Dean of St. Mary's, Stafford, to confer as if it were a prebend. (fn. 390) In 1548 it was stated that all sacraments and rites, except burial, were administered in this church as in a parish church, burial being at St. Mary's Church, Stafford. (fn. 391) By 1573 it had acquired the right of burial. (fn. 392) It was served by a salaried priest after 1548 at £8 a year, being described in 1563 as a church with cure but without institution. (fn. 393) In 1742 it was a perpetual curacy (fn. 394) and after 1868 was styled a vicarage under the Act of that year. (fn. 395)
The church of St. Mary, Stafford, appears to have retained the right to nominate the priest of St. Mary's, Castle Church, after the recovery of the advowson in 1255 from Stone Priory, and in 1548, this right lay with the dean and certain prebendaries. (fn. 396) The right of nomination may have passed in 1550 with the suppressed deanery to Henry Lord Stafford. (fn. 397)
Lord Stafford was named as patron in 1742. (fn. 398) In 1754 nomination was by the king 'by lapse' (fn. 399) and in 1795 by the king as patron in full right. (fn. 400) The nomination remained with the Crown until at least 1853 (fn. 401) and from 1892 the bishop has collated to the benefice. (fn. 402)
In 1535 the spiritualities of 'the church below Stafford castle', then still held by the Dean of the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, Stafford, were valued at £10 9s. 2d. (fn. 405) After the suppression of the college, the possessions of the deanery were given by the Crown to Henry Lord Stafford in 1550. (fn. 406) In 1551 tithes in Castle parish were conveyed, with the deanery, to John Maynard, citizen and mercer of London. (fn. 407) After Maynard's death in 1557 these tithes, with the deanery, seem to have passed to two of his three daughters, Frances, who married Walter Robardes (of Cranbrook, Kent), and Elizabeth, wife of John Sparry. (fn. 408) In 1556 John Sparry alienated a ninth of the property to Edward Lord Stafford. (fn. 409) Meanwhile in 1563 Frances and Walter had conveyed seven-ninths to William Crompton, citizen and mercer of London, (fn. 410) who held eight-ninths of the tithes at his death in 1567. (fn. 411) His son, William Crompton, though holding some tithes in the parish at his death in 1604 (fn. 412) conveyed those of the former deanery to Thomas Blackborne, who died in 1607, leaving two young daughters, Frances and Magdalene. (fn. 413) By 1638 the glebe lands and tithe seem to have been held by Dorothy Lady Stafford and nine others. (fn. 414) In the terrier of 1845 the repair of the chancel was stated to be the responsibility of Lord Stafford, who, however, disputed his liability. (fn. 415)
The incumbent, on condition of being resident in his benefice for at least ten months in the year, has since 1727 received an eighth of the yearly income of the Eleanor Alport Charity if he attends an annual service in Cannock church on the festival of St. Barnabas (11 June) or on the following day if the festival happens on a Sunday. (fn. 416)
A sermon is still (1956) preached on the Sunday after St. Andrew's Day under the terms of the Backhouse Charity. (fn. 417) A rent of 20s. a year for a lecture-sermon, charged on land and buildings at Butterhill in Coppenhall by William Goldsmith in 1703, was still paid in 1823 (fn. 418) but has since lapsed.
Elizabeth Jane Busby, by will proved 1935, devised a house to the parishes of Castle Church and Bradley. The property was sold soon afterwards and the proceeds, £1,111 13s. 8d., were invested. Onehalf of the income is still (1957) used for general parish purposes in Castle Church, and the other half is paid to the Vicar of Bradley as augmentation of his stipend. (fn. 419)
The church of ST. MARY stands about 500 yards south-east of the castle mound. It was rebuilt except for the tower in 1845 and enlarged in 1898. It now consists of nave, chancel, north aisle, vestry, south porch, and west tower. In 1817 the building was described as 'an ancient edifice composed of brick on the one side, and stone whitewashed on the other, with a stone tower'. (fn. 420) The brickwork was probably a partial rebuilding of the south wall of 18th-century date. The north wall of the nave, which was then unaisled, was clearly of 12th-century origin and contained a round-headed window and doorway. (fn. 421) The chancel arch, smaller than the present one, was also said to be Norman. (fn. 422) The chancel had at least one lancet window (fn. 423) and probably dated from the 13th century. The tower, which still stands, is mainly of 15th-century date and has angle buttresses and a Perpendicular west window of which the tracery has been renewed. The hoodmould of this window terminates in carved shields, now much worn, one of which is said to have borne the Stafford chevron impaling the Neville saltire. If these arms commemorate the marriage of Humphrey Stafford (later Duke of Buckingham) with Anne Neville c. 1424 (fn. 424) they would suggest a date for the building of the tower. The upper stage, which has two-light windows under triangular dripstones and an embattled parapet, was probably rebuilt in the 17th century. A date for this rebuilding may be indicated by an incised sundial of 1624 on the south side of the tower.
In 1844 it was decided in view of the poor condition of the foundations to take down and rebuild the chancel and the north wall of the nave. The architects were G. G. (later Sir Gilbert) Scott and Moffatt. (fn. 425) The Norman style of the nave and the Early English style of the chancel were probably suggested by features of the existing church and some of the 12thand 13th-century stones were reused. The plan followed the existing one with the addition of a north vestry. The external walls of the nave have pilaster buttresses and a corbel table at eaves level. The round-headed windows have shafts to the external jambs and deep splays internally. The south porch and the chancel arch are decorated with chevron mouldings and other Norman ornament. There are three graded lancets to the east wall of the chancel and the sill and splays of the easternmost window in the south wall form the sedilia. At the rebuilding the old fittings, which probably dated from the 18th century, were removed, the new arrangement giving 42 extra seats. (fn. 426) The lych-gate dates from 1846. (fn. 427)
In 1898 a north aisle was added to the nave in memory of the Revd. Edward Allen and his son William, between them vicars of the parish from 1853 to 1894. (fn. 428) The plans, which were prepared by John Oldrid Scott, provided for a new north vestry and organ chamber at the east end of the aisle, (fn. 429) but this part of the work was not carried out until 1912. (fn. 430) The Norman style was adopted for the aisle, the nave arcade of four bays having round arches supported on circular piers. The new north wall appears to be a reconstruction of Gilbert Scott's work. Shortly before these alterations two carved stones were dug up in the churchyard, one of which is said to have crumbled away. (fn. 431) The other was built into the west wall of the new aisle. It is slightly tapered and measures approximately 5 ft. 7 in. by 1 ft. 6 in. The face is carved in flat relief, being divided into triangular panels by a beaded moulding. The panels are filled with conventionalized foliage. The stone is probably a coffin lid dating from the second half of the 12th century. (fn. 432)
The font of Norman design with a square bowl and circular shafts was installed c. 1845. The former 18th-century font was of the simple pillar type. (fn. 433) In 1931 a carved screen in memory of the Revd. Melville Scott (vicar 1894–1924) was placed at the east end of the aisle. (fn. 434) The tower screen bears the date 1956.
On the west wall of the nave two slate tablets from the old church give details of the Chamberlain and Goldsmith charities. (fn. 435) Other tablets from the former church commemorate William Haddersich (d. 1809) and his wife and daughter; Mary (d. 1817), wife of Joseph Boulton, and their children; and Isabella Morris (d. 1821) and her daughter Rebecca Rogers (d. 1828). There are later tablets to members of the Haddersich family of Rickerscote (1825–46); the Revd. Robert Anzelark, vicar (d. 1845); Richard Bagnall (killed 1916); Guy Edwin Bostock (killed 1916); Vincent, Guy, and Ronald Bloor (killed in the First World War).
The plate includes (1956) a silver-gilt flagon and lid, chalice, and paten, all of 1849; a silver wafer box, given in memory of Melville Hey Scott. (fn. 436)
In 1553 there were three bells and one sanctus bell. (fn. 437) In 1889 there were only two, one dated 1711. (fn. 438) There are now three bells: (i, ii) 1902, recast, C. Carr; (iii) 1902, C. Carr. (fn. 439)
The registers date from 1567 and those from 1567 to 1821 have been printed. (fn. 440)
The vicarage is a gabled brick building with Tudor chimneys standing north-west of St. Mary's Church. It dates from 1848. (fn. 441)
Another chapel, that of St. Nicholas 'within the castle', is first definitely recorded in 1292 when it was described as a free chapel, (fn. 442) although it had probably been founded much earlier as a dependent chapel of 'St. Mary's within the castle' (later St. Mary's, Castle Church) and as such had been included between c. 1138 and 1147 in the grant by Robert de Stafford (II) of that chapel and its dependent chapels to Stone Priory. (fn. 443) There is no further evidence of dependence upon St. Mary's. In 1546 it was stated that St. Nicholas's chapel had cure of souls in the castle and its precincts, (fn. 444) in 1548 that it had been founded for a priest to minister all sacraments and sacramentals except burials to the inhabitants of Stafford castle and those dwelling within the park as a parish church (fn. 445) and in 1614 that it had not been a parish church or a member of any parish church. (fn. 446) The chapel appears to have been in use until 1548, when such chapels were dissolved, and again in the reign of Queen Mary. (fn. 447)
Although the king in 1292 as guardian of the land and heir of Nicholas de Stafford (d. c. 1287) nominated a priest to this chapel of St. Nicholas, (fn. 448) the prior and convent of Stone maintained their right to it under the terms of Robert de Stafford (II)'s grant and made their own nomination, probably early in 1293. (fn. 449) They appear to have kept the right of nomination until 1336 when the prior and convent of Kenilworth, mother-house of Stone, reserved it to themselves. (fn. 450) By 1370, however, the right of nomination seems to have returned to Ralph Earl of Stafford (fn. 451) and it descended with the barony until the chapel ceased to be used. (fn. 452)
The chapel is described elsewhere. (fn. 453)
A mission church was opened at Rickerscote in 1877 for the convenience of the parishioners of St. Paul's, Forebridge, who were at some distance from their parish church. Rickerscote has been a Conventional District since 1954. (fn. 454)
The mission church in School Lane, Rickerscote, is a brick building with a small chancel at one end and a school-room, separated from the body of the church by folding doors, at the other. It was still in use for weekly services in 1957, pending the completion of the new church of ST. PETER at Rickerscote, the foundations of which were laid in 1956. A wooden church hall stands beside the mission church.
The plate included (1956) a silver chalice, paten, and wafer box, and a glass and silver flagon. (fn. 455)
There is a tradition that the Revd. Thomas Barnaby, who was in charge of the Roman Catholic mission in Stafford borough at the time of his death in 1783, used to say mass in the garret of a house on the Green in Forebridge. (fn. 456) His successor in the Stafford mission, the Revd. John Corne, who arrived in 1784, (fn. 457) at first had a house and chapel in Tipping Street within the borough but was granted the lease of land in Forebridge, once part of the Austin Friars' estates, by the Beringtons of Winslow (Herefs.) formerly of Rowley Hall. (fn. 458) On this site Corne built a chapel which was dedicated to St. Augustine and opened in 1791, along with a house for the priest. (fn. 459) The chapel was enlarged early in the 19th century (see below), and the present church of St. Austin was opened in 1862 on a site immediately adjoining the old chapel, which was then converted into a school. (fn. 460) The church was consecrated in 1911. (fn. 461) The parish hall to the south of the church was opened in 1955.
Most, if not all, the holders of the Stafford barony since the Reformation have been Roman Catholics and have done much to encourage Roman Catholicism in and near Stafford. (fn. 462) There were said to be 'many' recusants in Castle Church parish in 1604, (fn. 463) and ten in Forebridge were mentioned c. 1667. (fn. 464) In 1780 there were stated to be 53 papists in Castle Church. (fn. 465) The attendance at mass at St. Austin's on Sunday, 30 March 1851, was 250, (fn. 466) and in 1956 the average attendance at Sunday mass was 1,150. (fn. 467)
Early in the 19th century the chapel of 1791 was transformed into a church in the Gothic style, in which the original building formed one of the transepts. (fn. 470) Edward Jerningham, an amateur architect and brother of Sir George Jerningham, was responsible for the work. (fn. 471) Fifteenth-century glass imported from Belgium and oak stalls for the sanctuary were given by the Jerninghams. (fn. 472) In 1861–2 the new church, designed by E. W. Pugin, (fn. 473) was built and consists of an aisled and clerestoried nave of four bays and an apsidal chancel. The entrance lobby at the south-east corner was originally planned to form the base of a tower (fn. 474) but this was never completed and it now carries a wooden turret containing one bell. The building is of red brick with blue-brick ornament and stone dressings. The window above the gallery has decorated tracery and contains the 15th-century stained glass from the former church.
St. Joseph's Convent in Lichfield Road was opened by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny from Lichfield in 1907, with a girls' private school attached. (fn. 475) The convent also has a guest house for women. (fn. 476) The convent incorporates a stucco house, formerly known as Forebridge Villa, which was built by Benjamin Rogers between 1809 and 1816. (fn. 477) In its original form the villa was a fine example of a style not well represented in the district. The lowpitched roof has deep eaves supported on brackets and the road front has an Ionic porch with an enriched pediment. In the centre of the south-east elevation, which faces a garden laid out at the same period, is a splayed recess with niches in the groundfloor reveals. The iron balcony and the French windows show the influence of the Greek Revival and there is similar ornament internally. A semicircular bow to the principal reception room was later incorporated in a conservatory. Additions at the back of the house date from the later 19th century. Extensions to the convent include a large brick range facing the road, designed by Sandy and Norris of Stafford in 1931. (fn. 478) There were further additions in 1951. (fn. 479) The garden contains several features built up from medieval stonework, mostly window tracery, said to have come from St. Mary's Church, Stafford, at the time of its restoration in 1842. (fn. 480) South of the house the original octagonal parapet of St. Mary's tower has been set up to form part of a formal garden. The parapet is pierced and embattled and probably dates from the 15th century.
Of the 180 inhabitants of Castle Church returned under the religious census of 1676, two were stated to be nonconformists. (fn. 481) A house in the occupation of Edward Smith was registered as a meeting-house in 1822, (fn. 482) and a house and premises on the Green, in the occupation of 'Mr. Hollyock', was registered in 1840. (fn. 483)
A Wesleyan Methodist church at Acton Gate, at the southern extremity of the parish, was opened in 1880 as a chapel and Sunday school. (fn. 484) It is a rectangular red-brick building with blue-brick dressing and pointed windows.
Only one of the schools built in what was the ancient parish of Castle Church still remains outside the boundary of the modern borough of Stafford. This is Hyde Lea school, built as a National school in 1863 to take 60 children. (fn. 485) It had an attendance of about 53 in 1893. (fn. 486) On 17 July 1950 it became 'controlled' (fn. 487) and it is now Castle Church, Hyde Lea Church of England (Controlled) Voluntary Primary School for Infants, under a mistress. (fn. 488) The average attendance in 1955 was 24. (fn. 489) The original building is still in use.
Dame Dorothy Bridgeman, by will dated 1694, left £200 to purchase rent-charges, three-tenths of which were to be applied to educate poor children of the township of Forebridge in Castle Church parish. (fn. 490) She died in 1697 (fn. 491) but it was only in 1726, after a charity decree had been promulgated that an accrued sum of £147 was laid out in the purchase of two parcels of land in the uninclosed Green Field in Forebridge. Of this about 7 acres were conveyed to school trustees in 1741. (fn. 492) Under the Forebridge Inclosure Act of 1800 an allotment of about 5 acres in the Green Field was made in lieu of these two parcels of land, and in 1804 this was leased for 21 years, at rents of £12 for the first four and £15 for the subsequent seventeen years. (fn. 493) This rent was paid to a mistress who taught, free, all the poor children of Forebridge hamlet above five years old who applied, to read and spell, and the girls to sew. She seems to have been allowed to charge 3d. a week for children under five. (fn. 494) The numbers in this school are said almost to have doubled between about 1800 and 1818, when there were 50. There was still no free schooling for the children living elsewhere in the parish. (fn. 495)
By 1825 the original £15 lease fell in, (fn. 496) and the trustees built a new school-house, with dwellinghouse and garden for the master or mistress, upon part of the trust land, funds being raised partly from the National Society, partly from the Lichfield Diocesan Society, and partly from subscriptions. (fn. 497) The poor children of Forebridge were still to be taught free, but the school was opened also to all the poor children of the rest of Castle Church, who seem to have paid 1d. a week, the girls (possibly those of Forebridge only) being provided with cloaks and bonnets by the trustees. (fn. 498) By 1834 it appears to have been affiliated to the National Society. (fn. 499)
In 1876 the school was rebuilt (fn. 500) by which date an Infants' School founded in 1831 (fn. 501) and still existing separately as late as 1854 (fn. 502) had been attached to it. (fn. 503) The accommodation by 1893 was for 477 children with average attendances of about 336. (fn. 504) By 1905 the rents from the Bridgeman Charity lands were £44 17s. of which about £42 was applied towards the support of the school. (fn. 505) The buildings were altered in 1906. (fn. 506) By 1951 it was called St. Paul's Church of England School and then became 'controlled'. (fn. 507) The average attendance in 1955 was 150 (fn. 508) and the school is now Stafford, Forebridge Church of England (Controlled) School (Junior Mixed and Infants). (fn. 509)
There was a National school at Rickerscote from about 1876 for about 60 children (fn. 510) which was used from at least 1878 to 1946 both as a school and for Sunday services in connexion with St. Paul's Church. (fn. 511) The accommodation in 1892 was for 71 children and the attendance 49, and the school was receiving an annual government grant. (fn. 512) This school was held in the mission church, a separate classroom being included at one end of the building. The day school was closed in August 1946 and the few remaining children then attended Rising Brook Primary School. (fn. 513)
Charities for the Poor
Thomas Backhouse or Chamberlain by deed of 1629 gave a rent of £2 charged on land in Silkmore of which £113s. 4d. was to be distributed each year among the poor of Castle Church parish and 6s. 8d. paid to the minister for a sermon on the Sunday after St. Andrew's Day (30 November). (fn. 514) The poor received doles of 1s. or 6d. each until 1800 when the distribution was changed to shilling and sixpenny loaves on 24 December. (fn. 515) The sermon is still (1956) preached and the 6s. 8d. paid to the vicar. (fn. 516)
William Goldsmith of Silkmore by will proved 1703 gave a rent of £10 charged on land in Silkmore for distribution in bread each Sunday to the poor of the parish. (fn. 517) By 1823 the money was used to provide 48 penny loaves each week at the rate of two or three for each person, the balance of 8s. a year being covered by allowances in place of the 'vantage bread' (the thirteenth loaf in each baker's dozen). (fn. 518) This left a surplus of 9s. 4d. which was added to the Christmas distributions made under the charities of Backhouse and Hinton (fn. 519) (see below).
William Goldsmith also charged his land in Burton, Rickerscote, and Risingbrook, subject to the life interests of his servant Margaret Wetton and her daughter Mary, with a rent of £10 a year to provide clothing for four poor widows of the parish. (fn. 520) Any residue was to be applied towards the apprenticing of poor boys. (fn. 521) The first payment of £10 was made in 1788 when clothing for four poor widows was bought at a cost of £8 5s. 10½d. (fn. 522) Premiums for apprentices were also paid regularly from 1789 to at least 1803. (fn. 523) From then until 1822 the money was used entirely for widows' clothing, but in 1823 £5 was paid for an apprenticeship and £5 8s. 4d. was spent on clothing for thirteen poor widows. (fn. 524)
By an Order of the Charity Commissioners in 1860, such of the above three benefactions as affected the poor were reallotted between the parish of Castle Church proper and the District of St. Paul's, Forebridge, in the proportion of £4 12s. to the former and £17 1s. 4d. to the latter. (fn. 525) All three charities are still (1956) used for the benefit of poor persons. (fn. 526)
Roger Hinton by will dated 1685 left land in Rickerscote to the poor of Burton and Rickerscote and a fixed charge of 15s. on other lands in Rickerscote to the poor of Stafford Green (otherwise Forebridge). (fn. 527) As his house and lands in Rickerscote had been charged with fixed payments to four other parishes, it was settled in 1692, following a decree in Chancery of 1688, that the poor of Rickerscote and Burton should receive a fixed sum of £2 10s. a year. (fn. 528) In December 1788 19 poor shared the Burton and Rickerscote charity at the rate of 2s. 6d. each and 18 the Forebridge charity; in 1791, 17 and 15 respectively. (fn. 529) Following the Forebridge Inclosure Act of 1800, and reallotments and sales of lands resulting from this, the rents paid to these two charities were increased, and in 1805 for the two together were £11 19s. 6d. rising in 1820 to £17 17s. 6d. (fn. 530) The two charities became amalgamated in course of time, and for some years before 1821 had been distributed in bread on Christmas Eve among the poor of the whole of Castle Church parish, along with Backhouse's and part of Goldsmith's Charities (fn. 531) (see above). Of the money due at Christmas 1821, £6 was given in shoes to children of poor persons in the parish, as an inducement to them to attend the Sunday school; £6 7s. was distributed in bread; 12s. was paid for coals for a poor woman; and 8s. was allowed to one of the poor tenants for arrears of rent, leaving a balance of £12 10s. 11d. for the following year. (fn. 532) During the winter of 1822–3 £29 15s. 2d. was distributed in coals, shoes, clothes, and money, still throughout the parish, but the parish officers were then informed that £6 4s. should have been applied exclusively to the poor of Burton and Rickerscote. (fn. 533)
By a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 1909 part of the income (then £15 16s. 9d.) was assigned to Burton and Rickerscote, while 15s. a year plus one-fifth of the residue of the income after deduction of four other fixed payments was assigned to the parish of St. Paul, Forebridge. (fn. 534) The income was to be applied in the form of subscriptions to hospitals and the provision of nurses or other care for the sick poor or of outfits for young persons entering upon a trade or occupation or into service. (fn. 535) In 1955 £18 19s. 10d. was paid to the Burton and Rickerscote trustees and £22 9s. 3d. to the Forebridge trustees. (fn. 536)
Simon Fowler, by will dated 1663, gave a rent of 40s. to the poor of Forebridge, charged during the lifetime of his wife Ann on an estate in The Reule (then in Gnosall, now in Bradley) and after Ann's death on an estate in Risingbrook. (fn. 537) The money was still assigned to the Forebridge poor in 1786, (fn. 538) and c. 1810 it was distributed among poor women there. (fn. 539) Payment then ceased and was never revived. (fn. 540)
A Mr. Thorley (d. probably 1723), bequeathed £40 to the poor of Castle Church, and in 1778 £1 12s. interest on it was paid to the churchwardens by a Mrs. Lander. (fn. 541) Although the charity was still in existence in 1786, (fn. 542) all traces of it had been lost by 1823. (fn. 543)
Another charity for the poor of Forebridge, described in 1786 as 10s. a year interest on money vested in the corporation of Stafford, (fn. 544) may have been represented by the annual distribution by 1823 of 6s. or so in the form of pound parcels of 'plums' at Christmas among the inhabitants of some fifteen or sixteen old houses in Forebridge liberty, which had established a prescriptive right to receive them. (fn. 545) This charity subsequently lapsed.
Lucy Emma Johnson of Rickerscote by will proved 1917 gave £175 to be invested and the interest paid to the Rickerscote Clothing Club. (fn. 546) In 1939 the income was £6 9s. 6d., but when the club ceased in 1946 the capital, under the terms of the will, was returned to the residuary estate. (fn. 547) In 1954, however, the sum of £100 accumulated dividends was paid to the priest-in-charge of St. Peter's, Rickerscote, for the purchase of clothing for the poor of Rickerscote. (fn. 548)