A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 7, Leek and the Moorlands. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.
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Fawfieldhead was formerly a township in Alstonefield parish and later a civil parish 5,383 a. (2,178 ha.) in area, including a detached portion of 592 a. to the south-east along the river Dove. (fn. 1) It is mostly pasture with scattered farms, and there are three hamlets, Fawfieldhead in the north, Newtown in the north-west, and Hulme End in the south-east. The main part of the parish lies along the river Manifold, its boundary with Sheen on the east, and extends west as far as Merryton Low on the boundary with Onecote, in Leek parish. (fn. 2) Brooks form part of the boundary on the south-east and north-west. Elsewhere the boundary runs across heathland and on the south at Lum Edge was marked by stones in 1837. (fn. 3) The detached portion was transferred to Alstonefield civil parish in 1934. At the same date 183 a. centred on a house called Herbage in the south-west of Fawfieldhead was added to Warslow and Elkstones civil parish, and there was an exchange of small acreas of land with Sheen. As a result the area of Fawfieldhead civil parish was reduced to its present 4,624 a. (1,871 ha.). (fn. 4) This article deals with the main part of the former township; the detached portion is treated in the article on Alstonefield civil parish.
The land lies at 1,588 ft. (474 m.) on the western boundary and falls gradually towards the Manifold, dropping to 699 ft. (213 m.) at Hulme End. The underlying rock is sandstone of the Millstone Grit series. There is alluvium along Blake brook and a tributary, which both flow across the parish into the Manifold, and the soil is mostly loam over clay. (fn. 5)
The number of people in Fawfieldhead owing suit at the manor court in 1769 was 143. (fn. 6) The population was 788 in 1801, 1,003 in 1811, and 1,315 in 1821. Thereafter there was a decline, to 1,017 in 1831, 923 in 1851, 750 in 1871, 570 in 1891, and 490 in 1901. The population was 471 in 1911, 474 in 1921, and 459 in 1931. After the boundary changes of 1934, it was 376 in 1951, 355 in 1961, 306 in 1971, 286 in 1981, and 300 in 1991. (fn. 7)
Four Bronze Age barrows have been identified on the east side of the township near a farmhouse called the Low, a name derived from the Old English word (hlaw) commonly used for a barrow. (fn. 8)
One of the earliest medieval settlements was possibly in the north part of the township at School Clough, where a house was recorded in 1331; the name incorporates a word of Scandinavian origin. (fn. 9) In the south part of the township there was a house by 1327 beside Blake brook at Fernyford, (fn. 10) either on the site of Little Fernyford where a stone dated 1698 is set on a barn attached to the 19th-century farmhouse, or on that of Big Fernyford, which is of the 18th or early 19th century. Further upstream Lower Fleetgreen, a house partly of the 17th century, probably stands on or near the site of a house called Fleetgreen in 1514. (fn. 11) By 1439 there was a house at Herbage c. 1 mile south of Lower Fleetgreen. (fn. 12) The site of Smedley Sytch north of Fernyford was occupied by 1406. (fn. 13) Further north there were houses at Boosley Grange and Bank House possibly by the later 14th century, when the bounds of land belonging to Hawk's Yard, west of Bank House, included places then called Boothesley Grange and the Bank or Over Boothesley. (fn. 14) The word grange commonly indicates a monastic farm, but no abbey is known to have owned land in the township and the name probably refers to buildings used seasonally for dairying. (fn. 15) The present house at Boosley Grange retains 17th-century stonework and was probably built for the Wardle family, the occupiers in the 1640s. (fn. 16) Hallhill existed by 1406, and Bank House, west of Hallhill, existed as Audley Bothesley in the later 1430s. (fn. 17) Until the earlier 19th century Smedley Sytch, Boosley Grange, and Bank House were linked by a road which crossed Oakenclough brook at Shining Ford. (fn. 18) A hamlet at Shining Ford existed in the earlier 1630s. (fn. 19)
On the east side of the township there were houses in the Middle Ages along the road from Alstonefield village to Longnor: the Low was recorded in 1399 and Rewlach in the early 1420s. (fn. 20) South-east of the Low there was a house by the early 16th century at Ludburn on a road which crossed into Sheen over the Manifold. (fn. 21) There was a house at Higher Wigginstall beside a stream south of Rewlach, certainly by the early 16th century and possibly earlier as land called Wigginstall was recorded in 1396. (fn. 22) To the south pasture called Alstonefield Hayes was rented to tenants in the later 16th century, and in 1597 a cottage at Hayesgate was let to Richard Finney, licensed as an alehouse keeper in 1605. (fn. 23)
A house at Fawfieldhead in the early 15th century presumably stood in the present hamlet of that name in the north part of the township. In the earlier 1630s the hamlet was also known as Fawfieldgreen. (fn. 24) A house on the west side of the hamlet dated 1774 was extended in 1831 for Isaac Billing, a stonemason. (fn. 25) Four houses which existed by the earlier 1630s on former pasture called Fawfield Hill north of the hamlet (fn. 26) probably included the Lane, a 19th-century farmhouse which retains a date stone of 1759. East of the hamlet there was a house on the Longnor road at Brownspit by 1594. (fn. 27) The Cottage on the boundary north of Brownspit was built in Gothick style in the earlier 19th century for James Charlesworth (d. 1842), formerly of Heath House, in Heathylee. (fn. 28)
Newtown existed by 1754 as a hamlet on the edge of common waste on the west side of the township. (fn. 29) In 1836 Sir George Crewe, on a visit to the area, considered it suitable for development, and he had a church built there in 1837. (fn. 30) Despite his endeavours Newtown remained small. A settlement called Reaps Moor beyond Blake brook south-east of Newtown also existed by the later 18th century. (fn. 31) Houses there were probably the cause of the township's rapid growth in population in the early 19th century. The inhabitants may have been stone and brick workers, as later in the century. (fn. 32) A workhouse opened in 1802 was converted into a church and a school in 1842. (fn. 33) The present Butcher's Arms inn, so called by 1834, existed by the later 1820s. (fn. 34)
The hamlet of Hulme End, in Sheen, had spread into Fawfieldhead township by the early 19th century. (fn. 35) Manifold House was built c. 1900, and a pair of houses to the south called Riverside Villa and Manx Villa was built in 1907 by J. W. Bassett, a builder and miller. (fn. 36)
The road between Warslow and Hartington (Derb.) through the south-east corner of the township formerly followed part of the Alstonefield- Longnor road over Archford bridge. (fn. 37) When the former was turnpiked in 1770 as a branch of the Cheadle-Buxton road, (fn. 38) it was realigned to cross the river by a new bridge c. 300 yd. upstream at Hulme End. At first called Hayesgate bridge and also known as Hulme End bridge by 1778, the new bridge seems to have been completed by 1775, although work on it was still necessary in the late 1780s and in 1794-5. (fn. 39) It was rebuilt in the early 19th century. Further north there were bridges at Brund mill and Ludburn. They were the joint responsibility of Alstonefield and Sheen parishes until 1736 or 1737; the former then became Alstonefield's responsibility and the latter Sheen's. (fn. 40) The Cheadle-Buxton road turnpiked in 1770 originally ran west of Warslow village over Reaps moor. It was realigned to the east in the 1820s, rejoining the original route immediately south of Blake brook. The road was disturnpiked in 1878. (fn. 41)
The road between Leek and Longnor running over Lady Edge and on the north-west side of Fawfield Hill was mentioned in the later 14th century and was later a packhorse way. (fn. 42)
The Leek & Manifold Valley light railway, opened in 1904, ran from Waterhouses to the Fawfieldhead part of Hulme End. The line was closed in 1934, but the wooden station building remained standing in 1994. (fn. 43)
A friendly society called the Reapsmoor Club was established at the Butcher's Arms in 1835, and in 1876 it had 130 members. Its band, mentioned in 1862, played at the club's annual feast in June. The club still existed in 1940. (fn. 44) There was a lodge of Oddfellows at Reaps Moor in 1917. (fn. 45)
Fawfieldhead is named after land called Fawfield, recorded in 1308 and meaning multi-coloured open land, presumably land bright with flowers. (fn. 46) The description could fit the pasture beside Blake brook and its tributary. There was a vaccary, or dairy farm, in Fawfieldhead in 1308, (fn. 47) and the names of three farms, Boosley Grange, School Clough, and Higher Wiggin stall, include words which mean a cowhouse or herdsman's shelter (both, skali) and a place where cattle were kept (stall). (fn. 48)
The inhabitants of Fawfieldhead enjoyed pasture rights on Fawfield Hill, a tract of 300 a. north of Fawfieldhead hamlet, until it was parcelled out among tenants by the lords of Alstonefield in the early 16th century. (fn. 49) The inhabitants of Longnor also had rights on Fawfield Hill, and in 1568 c. 100 men from Longnor pulled down fences there. (fn. 50) An award of 1575 stipulated that the part of the hill nearest Longnor was to remain open to Longnor men, as well as to the tenants of four farms in Heathylee whose land bordered the hill. The Longnor men were also to have an 80-year lease of a quarter of the inclosed part of the hill, for which each householder was to pay the lord 4d. and a hen each year. (fn. 51)
Pasture called Alstonefield Hayes in the southeast corner of Fawfieldhead seems to have been common in 1464. (fn. 52) Together with adjoining land called Mynnyngs field, it became the subject of a dispute over fencing between 24 tenants in Alstonefield township and 6 tenants in Fawfieldhead. The dispute was settled in 1573 by a division between the two groups, each being responsible for half the rent. (fn. 53) The pasture remained subject to manorial control. In 1594 the court ordered that no geese were to be allowed on the land between Good Friday and Michaelmas, and by 1599 two pinners were appointed to supervise the area; a single pinner was appointed between 1602 and 1620. (fn. 54) The office was discontinued in 1621 when Alstonefield Hayes and Mynnyngs field were leased for 21 years in two shares, one of 176 a. to 24 tenants in Alstonefield township and the other of 144 a. to 11 tenants in Fawfieldhead. In addition 20½ a. which had lately been inclosed were leased to two tenants, one of whom had already erected a smithy there. (fn. 55) Further inclosures had reduced 'the great pasture called the Hey' to 190½ a. by the earlier 1630s, and between 1649 and 1653 several leases were made of other newly inclosed parts. (fn. 56)
The common waste included moorland which was probably unsuitable for permanent grazing. Schal moor, mentioned in 1392, probably lay in the area of Shawmoor Farm in the south-east part of the township beside the Manifold, (fn. 57) and to the north-west lay Reaps moor, so called in 1595. (fn. 58) Heathland called Lady Edge, which extended north-west into Heathylee, was recorded in the later 14th century. (fn. 59) Only 185 a. of common waste, mostly at Lady Edge, remained in the township in 1839, when it was inclosed under an Act of 1834 amended in 1836. All the land was allotted to Sir George Crewe, 56 a. as lord of the manor and 129 a. as the impropriator of Alstonefield rectory. (fn. 60) Shawfield Wood on the former waste south of Newtown was planted by Sir George in 1834. (fn. 61)
Of the 1,738.4 ha. of farmland returned for the civil parish in 1988, grassland covered 1,631.5 ha. and there were 53.6 ha. of rough grazing. The farming was dairy and sheep, with 2,025 head of cattle and 6,430 sheep and lambs. Of the 49 farms returned, 37 were under 50 ha. in size, 9 were between 50 and 99 ha., and 3 were between 100 and 199 ha. Woodland covered 20.3 ha. (fn. 62)
Trade and industry.
Two stonemasons, Simon Billing and Isaac Billing, both of Fawfieldhead hamlet, were recorded respectively in 1813 and 1834. (fn. 65) Twenty-eight stonemasons or stone workers were recorded in the township in 1841, and in 1851 thirty men worked for John Lomas, a stonemason and brick and tile maker of Reaps Moor. (fn. 66)
In the early 1850s a brick and tile yard was opened at Reaps Moor by George Smith, a Tunstall brickmaker, later of Coalville (Leics.), and a noted social reformer. He worked at Reaps Moor until 1855, refusing to employ boys aged under 13 and women or girls at all and not allowing Sunday working. (fn. 67) Brickyard Cottage, east of Reaps Moor church, is a later 19thcentury house partly of brick and was probably built for the manager of a brickworks at Reaps Moor offered for sale in 1877. (fn. 68) The remains of clay diggings are visible near the house.
There was a cheese factor in the township in 1840, (fn. 69) and another in 1844 and 1851. (fn. 70) In 1881 William Shirley had a cheese factory at his farm at Rewlach, and his son Samuel was the first secretary of the Manifold Valley Dairies Association Ltd., which in 1912 had a cheese factory on the Warslow-Longnor road north-west of Rewlach. The factory was closed in 1958. (fn. 71)
A furniture-making business was established in 1983 by George Fox in the former cheese factory. (fn. 72)
Fawfieldhead was part of the Forest tithing of Alstonefield manor by the late 1390s and remained so in the earlier 1530s. (fn. 73) By 1594 Fawfieldhead formed its own tithing, with one frankpledge. (fn. 74) The customary place for the stocks in the early 18th century was apparently Hayesgate, by then the meeting place of the manor court. (fn. 75) The 'heyes fold' mentioned in 1550 may have been a pinfold at Alstonefield Hayes, an area of pasture which had its own pinners by 1599 and until 1620. (fn. 76) What was called a new pinfold in 1575 stood on the west side of Fawfieldhead hamlet. (fn. 77) A combined pinfold and lock-up for which a plan was drawn up in 1843 probably stood at the road junction north of Reaps Moor, where there was a pinfold in the late 1870s. (fn. 78)
Two surveyors of the highways for Fawfieldhead were appointed at the manor court apparently for the first time in 1601. From 1602 there was normally only one. (fn. 79)
In the later 17th and earlier 18th century the poor of Fawfieldhead, Heathylee, Hollinsclough, and Quarnford were maintained jointly. (fn. 80) Fawfieldhead relieved its poor separately from 1733. (fn. 81) In 1802 a workhouse with an adjoining house for the governor was built on the turnpike road at Reaps Moor. The workhouse remained in use after Fawfieldhead became part of Leek poor-law union in 1837. It was converted in 1842 into a church and school. (fn. 82)
By 1594 inhabitants of Fawfieldhead evidently attended Longnor church. (fn. 83) Churches dependent on Longnor were opened at Newtown in 1837 and Reaps Moor in 1842 at the expense of Sir George Crewe, prompted by the curate of Longnor, William Buckwell. (fn. 84) For serving Newtown an assistant curate was paid £50 a year by Sir George; by 1859, when serving both Newtown and Reaps Moor, he was paid £100 by Sir George's son Sir John. (fn. 85) From the early 1860s the Harpur Crewe family also provided a house, the Green, east of Fawfieldhead hamlet. (fn. 86) The churches were last served by a curate of their own in 1927. (fn. 87) In 1950 they were served by a stipendiary reader, who received £125 a year, £70 of it paid by the Harpur Crewe family. The stipend was withdrawn that year, and the stipendiary left. (fn. 88) In 1994 the vicar of Longor held services fortnightly at Newtown and monthly at Reaps Moor.
St. Paul's church at Newtown, so named in 1910, (fn. 89) is built of ashlar in a Georgian style and has a west bellcot and chimney; a south-west porch was added probably in 1891. (fn. 90) There is a Venetian east window, and formerly there were two west windows matching those on the north and south sides. In 1842 Sir George Crewe paid for a bell and a table for psalm singers. (fn. 91) On Census Sunday 1851 there was an afternoon congregation of 64, besides Sunday school children. (fn. 92) The psalm singers possibly continued to lead the services until 1861, when a harmonium was installed. (fn. 93)
St. John's church at Reaps Moor, so named in 1910, (fn. 94) occupies the upper floor of the former workhouse, an external flight of steps having been added at the south end of the building and the windows enlarged. (fn. 95) On Census Sunday 1851 there were congregations of 26 in the morning and 65 in the evening, besides Sunday school children. (fn. 96) A harmonium, mentioned in 1862, was installed probably in 1861, like that in Newtown church. (fn. 97)
In the later 19th century Higher Wigginstall, Hayesgate, and Hulme End in the south-eastern part of the township were in Warslow ecclesiastical district, but Higher Wigginstall was transferred to Longnor in 1902. (fn. 98) In 1941 St. Mark's mission was opened from Warslow using the waiting room of the railway station at Hulme End. The mission was closed in the later 1940s. (fn. 99)
The farmhouse at Smedley Sytch was probably the meeting place of the Methodist society formed at 'Sytch' in 1765; the society had 13 members in 1784. (fn. 100) Mary Shirley of Rewlach became a Methodist in 1785 or 1786, after hearing a Methodist preacher in Longnor market place. A Methodist class was established at her home, under the leadership of her son Joseph. In 1798 Sunday services were held there fortnightly, as well as monthly at School Clough. (fn. 101) As a Wesleyan Methodist society it had 27 members in 1837, and in 1849 a chapel was built north-east of Rewlach. On Census Sunday 1851 it had a congregation of 40 in the morning and 70 in the afternoon. (fn. 102) Occasional services were still held at the chapel in 1994.
There was a Methodist society of 12 members at Newtown in 1810, and in 1829 Sunday services were held monthly. (fn. 103) A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built there in 1841, and on Census Sunday 1851 it had an evening congregation of 41. (fn. 104) It was closed in 1975 and converted into a house. (fn. 105)
A Methodist society of 28 members was formed at Hulme End in 1787. Numbers increased rapidly, and in 1790 as many as 42 transferred to a society at Brownhill, in Warslow. (fn. 106) Some remaining members evidently became Primitive Methodists, and a Primitive Methodist chapel was built in the Fawfieldhead part of Hulme End in 1834. On Census Sunday 1851 it had an evening congregation of 37. Services in the chapel ceased in 1897, but the society continued to meet in houses under lay leadership until 1932. (fn. 107) The former chapel remained standing in 1994 but was derelict.
Wesleyan Methodists held Sunday services fortnightly at Hulme End in 1832, and in 1837 they had a society of 12 members. No chapel was built, and in the early 20th century they used the redundant Primitive Methodist chapel. The society was dissolved in 1932. (fn. 108)
A house at Fleetgreen, presumably near Lower Fleetgreen farmhouse, was registered for protestant worship in 1838. It may have been for Primitive Methodists, who were holding Sunday services in that area in 1874, alternately with services at Reaps Moor. In 1876 a chapel was opened at Reaps Moor south-east of the Butcher's Arms; closed in 1957, it was used as a farm outbuilding in 1994. (fn. 109)
There was no school in the township in 1819. (fn. 110) In the earlier 1830s there were three day schools with a total of 24 boys and 21 girls paying fees, and a Sunday school with 54 boys and 56 girls. One of the schools was west of Fawfieldhead hamlet. (fn. 111) In 1841 the Sunday school was held at Newtown, presumably in the church built there in 1837 by Sir George Crewe. Sir George supported the school financially, and in 1842 he paid for a teacher's stool and pupils' desks. (fn. 112) By the later 1840s it was also a National day school with 38 boys and 26 girls, (fn. 113) endowed by Sir George Crewe with £30 a year, of which the master received £25 in 1859. (fn. 114) In 1880, when managed by a committee of ratepayers, the school moved into a building south of the church. (fn. 115) The decision in 1931 that what was then Newtown Church of England school, an all-age school with 37 children on its books, should become a junior school probably took effect in the later 1940s, the senior children being transferred to Leek. (fn. 116) Newtown school was closed in 1964, and the children were transferred to Longnor primary school. (fn. 117) The school building later became a private house.
In 1842 Sir George Crewe converted the ground floor of the former workhouse at Reaps Moor into a day school. He appointed a master, who lived in the adjoining house and was paid £25 a year. (fn. 118) A National school by the later 1840s, (fn. 119) it became a council school in 1923 and had 10 children on its books in 1931. (fn. 120) It was closed in 1959, and the children were transferred to Warslow primary school. (fn. 121)