365 great things about Staffordshire - Eccleshall town
Nestling in the beautiful Sow Valley, Eccleshall is a historical town, with many interesting old buildings including the Holy Trinity Church dating back to the eleventh century.
Now filled with restaurants, public houses and a wide assortment of shops, as well as the farmers market every fourth Saturday of the month, Eccleshall is well worth a visit.
There is the annual Eccleshall Show plus a nine-day festival culminating with a street market every other year.
For walkers, there are over 130 public footpaths maintained by the Parish Council covering Eccleshall and the surrounding area (pick up a walks leaflet from Eccleshall library).
The Parish has over 60 clubs and organisations meeting regularly, providing the area with a wide cultural and sporting background. There are football, cricket and rugby teams together with tennis, indoor bowls and golf clubs.
Where is it?
It is located seven miles north west of Stafford, and six miles west of Stone.
A location map is available on the Visit Stafford website.
The film ' I Know Where I'm Going!', Powell and Pressburger's classic romantic comedy made in 1945 highlights Eccleshall in the scene where Joan Webster ( Wendy Hiller) meets up with her father in London, and he informs her that he had travelled all the way from Eccleshall to see her that evening.
Eccleshall was an important stopping point for coaches on several different routes and the town prospered, the inns in particular. You can still see the large arched horse coaching stops at the Royal Oak Hotel.
Eccleshall is twinned with Sancerre in France
History of Eccleshall
According to the Domesday Book, Eccleshall in 1086 was no more than a small village of about one hundred inhabitants. A few fragments of stone at the base of the tower of the present Parish Church of Holy Trinity suggest that a stone church was in existence about this time and the base of a 10th-century cross still stands outside the church.
Eccleshall became important as a market town for the surrounding area. In 1153 it was granted the right to hold a weekly market. Around the beginning of the thirteenth century the village had become a town with the granting of ‘Borough’ status and by 1259 had obtained a charter to hold an annual fair at Ascensiontide. By the time of the survey of the bishop’s estates in 1298 about five hundred people lived in the village, mainly craftsmen or engaged in agriculture.
To the Bishop of Lichfield, Eccleshall was conveniently situated on the main road between the centres of the diocese in Chester, Lichfield and Coventry. Land was reputedly granted to St Chad and in 1200 Bishop Geoffrey de Muschamp was granted by King John a ‘licence to crenellate’ a castle. From then on until the 1860s the site would provide a residence for the Bishops of Lichfield.
Eccleshall castle briefly played a part in the War of the Roses, when it was used as a base for the Lancastrian Queen Margaret of Anjou and her troops before and after her defeat at the Battle of Blore Heath in 1459.
In June 1643 the castle was besieged by Sir William Brereton and his Parliamentary forces encamped around the church. Their guns caused considerable damage to the walls but the castle held out. When the Parliamentary forces finally took the castle on 30 August they found that the bishop had died of a heart attack during the siege and most of the defenders were either drunk or had gone into town drinking in the taverns. The castle was sacked but enough of the building remained to be used as a prison for Royalist gentry.
For three centuries leather working and shoemaking had been important domestic industries in Eccleshall, but by the end of the 19th century both had almost ceased, with the growth of the mechanised shoe factories in nearby Stafford.
You can find out more about Eccleshall on the Eccleshall Guide website.
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