Christmas traditions in St.Mary's Church and The Ancient High House

The Christmas Tree Festival 

Period Christmas in the Ancient High House

Sir Martin Noell's Almshouses, Mill Street

"Sir Martin Noell was a London merchant who was born in Stafford in the 17th century. He had these almshouses built on Mill Street for the poor of the town. The inhabitants were also given a small pension and a coal allowance from the Corporation. The almshouses had their own chapel, whose stained-glass windows were believed to have come from the old castle church. A weekly service was held by the Sub-Rector of St. Mary's Church" (www.staffspasttrack.co.uk)

The old Library

                                                                   The Lock-up

The shoe industry

Stafford was once a very important center of the shoe industry, offering employment to a substantial number of people in the county town.
The best-known shoemaker and the one considered the father of shoemaking industry in Stafford was William Horton, who founded his business in 1767, when he was 17 years old.

Stafford Town Trail

The Baptist Church

Heritage Open Days, 14th September, the old building of Staffordshire County Council opened it's doors for the public and tours were organised all day.

Collegiate Church of Saint Mary, Stafford

A few steps away from the Town Centre, surrounded by a beautiful park and charming little shops, it's one of the places I will keep coming back to whilst taking my pictures.
I read about Saint Mary (www.achurchnearyou.com) that it's long history dates back to St. Bertelin in the 8th century and the building that commenced 800 years ago is the second oldest in Stafford. Ten bells are guarding the tower and if you go inside...well, I'll let you discover more ...

On 6th July, Saint Mary's opened the doors for the public

Stafford Castle

... is watching over the town from the top of the hill and is surrounded by lovely green paths, with great walks and views not only towards nature, but also towards history. The panels you can discover as you walk round the Castle offer information about more than 900 years of its history, the interesting things related to it or even the plants you can meet along the way.
The Castle is considered to be one of the best surviving examples of Norman earthworks in the country (www.staffordbc.co.uk) and the site extends over 26 acres consisting of Keep, inner bailey, outer bailey, woodland, herb garden, visitor centre and car park. 
The "giant" comes alive every year, either through the voice of Shakespeare's characters, either through one of the events or walks taking place here on a regular basis.
This year the Gatehouse Theatre brings to the Castle "A Midsummer's Night Dream". 

The Broad Eye Mill

When I first saw The Mill from outside I didn't think there was anything in it. Obviously I was wrong! Not only do they have open days when you can visit a part of this famous building in Stafford and see different objects related to its story, but ... and this was a surprise: there is a radio inside it! And when I say radio I do not mean a small plastic one playing your favourite playlist, I mean an actual radio station, with real people and a real studio - Stafford Radio - "your Feelgood radio station" and the county town's internet-based radio station.
Getting back to what's inside The Mill and what is The Mill actually? I "nicked" a flyer and it says like this:
"One of the best known sights of Stafford is the imposing Mill at Broad Eye. The windmill has been a Stafford landmark for over 200 years and has seen Stafford grow from a small village of under 4.000 inhabitants in 1799 to the impressive County Town of Staffordshire with over 63.000 residents. The actual Windmill only operated as a mill for exactly 100 years with the sails being removed in 1897. From this time the Windmill had ceased being a useful economic building and had been in decline ever since. It has only been during the last 10 years that efforts have seen enthusiastic groups join together in trying to save and re-invent the mill for new modern uses to the benefit of future Staffordians (...) "

The Ancient High House

A landmark in Stafford, The Ancient High House is one of the finest Tudor buildings in the country and brings to the public a wide variety of exhibitions and events no matter what time of the year.
Centuries of life and history brought together in the Castle Room, the Victorian Room, the Civil War room, the Wallpaper Room or Mr. Masons Edwardian shop and not to forget the Staffordshire Yeomanry Museum found at the top floor. 
"Royalty was welcomed to the house in 1642 when Charles I stayed there en route to Shrewsbury and the house retains an extensive collection of period furniture and architectural features (...) In 1986 the house opened as a museum and now provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the people who have lived there over the centuries " - www.staffordbc.gov.uk.
A wonderful place that opens doors through time for both adults and children, educating and connecting different worlds. The Ancient High House is also the home of many exhibitions and workshops, with an interesting programme every month.
Still a lot more to discover here, more pictures to be uploaded as we go along ... 

Saint Chad's Church 

A wonderful church situated right on the high street and with a very interesting history. I entered Saint Chad's for the first time a couple of months ago. It was like stepping from the agitated main street into another world, where a friendly gentleman guided my steps and told me lots of interesting little stories about the oldest church in Stafford. 
I was curious for more and I cannot remember everything he told me, but on their website there is plenty to find out. I'm going to borrow a few lines about this "gem in the heart of the town":
"The origins of Stafford are bound up with the story of St. Bertelin, a Saxon saint who set up a hermitage here at the beginning of the eight century. What is now the town centre was no more than a kind of island surrounded by river and marsh, with a landing-place (staith) and a crossing place (ford) which combines to give Stafford its name. A church was built, first of wood and later of stone, on the site of Bertelin's hermitage and the foundations of the eleventh-century building can be seen adjacent to the west wall of St. Mary's, the church which replaced it as the Collegiate Church and Parish Church of the Borough. Sometime between the re-building of St. Bertelin's (c. 1050) and the building of St. Mary's (c. 1190), St. Chad's came into being" (www.stchadsstafford.co.uk).
About St. Chad's there is a lot more to say - stories about the Green Man or the architecture, but all that coming up soon, with more pictures and words.

Town Mill

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