A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9, Burton-Upon-Trent. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In 1086 Burton abbey had land at Stapenhill for 4 ploughteams, of which 2 were on the demesne and 2 were worked by villani. There was 4 a. of meadow, and woodland measured 1 league in length and 3 furlongs in breadth. The manor was worth 60s. (fn. 9) In the early 12th century there was enough demesne land for three, or two 'very strong', ploughteams. Over half the tenanted land was held by villeins who owed fixed labour services and a reeve was recorded in each of the abbey's early 12th-century surveys: a villein called Godric in the first and a rent-payer called Aethelric in the second. (fn. 10)
Medieval Grange A granger for Stapenhill was appointed at the manor court in the earlier 14th century, (fn. 11) and what was called 'the site of the manor' of Stapenhill in 1455 was described as a grange in 1522, when it was held by a lessee. (fn. 12) The grange house, which probably stood in the village, was known as Stapenhill Great Farm in the 18th century. (fn. 13)
Open Fields and Common Land The fields of Stapenhill were mentioned in the early 13th century and included one called Ridgway, south-east of the village between Stanton Road and Rosliston Road. Ridgway field was one of four open fields recorded in 1598; the others were Wood field and Leaway (later Lewer) field, both east of the village, and Water field to the south. (fn. 14) There was also arable land in the north of the township, stretching towards Burton bridge: corn was being grown at 'the bridge end' in 1333, and three fields recorded at 'the bridge foot' in 1546 were known later in the century as Chaplens fields. (fn. 1)
Horse holme, formerly an island in the river Trent mentioned by that name in the 1180s, lay within Stapenhill, and was probably the main area of meadow in the township. (fn. 2) In the late 16th century the common waste lay in small pieces mainly on the township boundary: at Waterside and the Hollow in the south-west and at Stapenhill heath in the southeast. Stapenhill people also claimed rights in Winshill wood and on Scalpcliff hill, and between midsummer and Candlemas (2 February) they had access to the 'mill holmes', probably the islands in Burton Extra where the upper mill was sited. (fn. 3)
In 1255 Sir William de la Ward, apparently the lord of Stanton, granted Burton abbey pasture rights in Stanton and 'Ravenildestre hill', evidently all year round on the waste but not on the arable or meadow when corn and grass were growing. About the same time the abbey also acquired from Geoffrey de Gresley, the lord of Drakelow, similar pasture rights in Drakelow and Cauldwell and in places called 'Ruyhull' and 'Rodemor' after cropping had taken place. In the late 15th century the rights claimed by Stapenhill tenants in Stanton were exercised from the time the corn or hay was cut up to Candlemas (2 February) and every third year for the whole year. In 1488 the abbey exchanged those rights for a parcel of land in Stanton. (fn. 4)
Inclosure There was evidently piecemeal inclosure during the 17th and 18th century, but when inclosure took place in 1773 under an Act of 1771 there was still 128 a. of open land in Lewer field, 114 a. in Water field, 34 a. in Ridgway field, and 18 a. in Wood field. Stapenhill heath covered 80 a. when inclosed in 1773 under the Act of 1771, about 2/3 being allotted to Lord Paget and 1/3 to the vicar of Stapenhill. Lord Paget was allotted the whole of the common on the north side of Scalpcliff hill (52 a.), Hollow common (15 a.), and the common at Waterside (6 a.). A further 14 a. was also inclosed at Church meadow (the present Stapenhill Hollows) on the west side of Stapenhill Road. (fn. 5)
Modern Farms In the earlier 18th century before parliamentary inclosure the main farms, besides that at Brizlincote, were Stapenhill Great Farm (the former monastic grange) and Bridge End Farm (with some of its land in Winshill). (fn. 6) As Stapenhill village expanded in the 19th century, agricultural land was confined to Brizlincote and the area of the township added to Drakelow in 1894.
In 1522 Stapenhill grange included a rabbit warren, possibly on Scalpcliff hill where a 'clapper' (a manmade burrow) was constructed in 1567 and a lodge built in 1577. (fn. 7) The warren had been abandoned by the early 1620s. (fn. 8) There may have been another warren on the township's boundary south-east of the village, where land called 'Coneygre' was recorded in the later 18th century. (fn. 9a)
One of the tenants recorded in the early 12th-century surveys of Stapenhill, Leofwine the goldsmith, had a mill, as did Thorald the carpenter; a third tenant paid a rent for a mill-sluice (exclusagium). (fn. 10a) A mill was again recorded in the 1180s. (fn. 11a) In 1407 what was called 'Chaumbre' mill stood near Stapenhill holme, possibly identifiable as the later Horse holme. (fn. 12a)
A boy was apprenticed to a Stapenhill bricklayer named Nicholas Cross in 1696, and other brickmakers at Stapenhill were named in the 1720s. (fn. 13a) In 1734 a brickmaker named Samuel Ault leased a plot of land on Stanton Road, (fn. 14a) and by 1748 Benjamin Cross (d. 1798) was making bricks on land adjoining Scalpcliff hill. (fn. 15) There were several brickmakers in Stapenhill in 1846, and the opening of new yards caused an influx of labourers. (fn. 16) By the late 1870s there were yards on the west side of Hill Street and on the east side of Rosliston Road near the later Saxon Street. There was also a brickyard further south on the west side of Stanton Road at its junction with Sycamore Road, and another on the east side of Rosliston Road near the Derbyshire boundary. (fn. 17) The main employers in 1881 were James Ballard and William Elveston, the former in association with a building contractor, Joseph Chamberlain. (fn. 18)
A mineral water manufactory in Stanton Road, in existence by 1900, was run in 1904 by the licensee of the Barley Mow in Main Street. In 1912 it was owned by the Burton and District licensed victuallers' association, which moved the works to Lichfield Street, in Burton, in the later 1920s. (fn. 19)