Stoke-on-Trent is proud of its heritage

A Mark IX Spitfire

Reginald Mitchell’s Spitfire 

People from Stoke-on-Trent are proud of their city’s heritage.

History records the achievements of men and women from our city and tells us the role they played on the world stage.

Stoke-on-Trent’s city council was one of the pioneers of comprehensive education. It defied both Conservative and Labour governments and replaced grammar and secondary modern schools with neighbourhood comprehensive schools and a sixth form college.

Local art schools, technical schools and colleges of further education were progressive centres of excellence. Reginald Mitchell, who designed the Spitfire, turned down a place at Birmingham University. He wanted to serve an apprenticeship with a firm in Fenton and to study engineering at technical schools in the city.

By the beginning of the 1930s, the North Staffordshire Technical College was a university in everything but name. The college had an international reputation and attracted overseas students. It possessed the world’s leading ceramic research centre and had Europe’s best mining school.

There are those who say the past is dead. They are wrong. The past lives in our collective memory. It makes us what we are today. Stoke-on-Trent has a proud heritage – a heritage which must not be forgotten. A city that forgets its past is a city without a future.

Spotlight on Burslem – Woolworths

17-19 St John’s Square, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST6 3AN Woolworths opened in Burslem in September 1929 in a purpose-built two-storey building. According to the book Burslem Through Time by Mervyn Edwards, the first store manager was L.H. Hewitt. This branch of Woolworths stocked a range of locally manufactured china and pottery items. Source: […]

To read more visit Burslem – Store 371 — Woolies Buildings – Then and Now

Spotlight on Staffordshire’s Asylums – Charles Seymour, Highwayman?

Amongst the early cases at Stafford asylum, there are few with details as strange as that of Charles Thomas Seymour. Charles was 25 when he was admitted to Stafford in June 1823, but this new patient was unlike most others. Charles had been tried at Warwickshire Assizes for highway robbery and had been kept in […]

via Charles Seymour, Highwayman? — Staffordshire’s Asylums

Spotlight on the Staffordshire Hoard

Staffordshire Hoard (2)

Yes, I was one of those nutters who queued for almost 5 hours outside of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery around 10 years ago to see the Staffordshire Hoard soon after its discovery, and since then I’ve seen the display of elements of the hoard at Lichfield Cathedral. However, I haven’t visited Birmingham Museum since, nor […]

To read more visit The Staffordshire Hoard, Explored — Archaeo𝔡𝔢𝔞𝔱𝔥

Biddulph Grange Country Park — Photo-art gallery

Biddulph Grange Country Park

Biddulph is a town situated between Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire and Congleton in Cheshire, England. It is famous for Biddulph Grange Gardens that have recently been restored to its former glory by the National Trust, and that visitors can pay to walk around. Just half a mile away from the Gardens is Biddulph Grange Country Park, […]

To read more visit Biddulph Grange Country Park — Photo-art gallery

Spotlight on Biddulph Grange

Last week’s post on the Geological Gallery at Biddulph was, I hope, something of an insight in to the mindset of James Bateman its creator in the mid-19thc. Today’s is designed to look at the gardens he created there, partly because both he and his wife were passionate about plants but partly as a reinforcement of […]

via A Walk Around the World — The Gardens Trust

Spotlight on Crime and Punishment – The Stocks

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On October 6th, 1680, Tunstall Court Leet ordered the High Constable of the Manor of Tunstall to repair the stocks in Burslem within six weeks or pay a penalty of six shillings and eight pence.

From Anglo-Saxon times until the middle of the 19th century, the stocks were used to punish minor offences.

The Stocks were designed to humiliate and degrade petty criminals by putting them on display in a public place where members of the public could impose their own punishments on them.

Stocks were erected on village greens, in market squares and at crossroads. Most were made of wood, although a few were made of iron. Offenders sat on a wooden bench with their ankles placed through holes in moveable boards. How long a person spent in the stocks depended on the gravity of the offence. Some were there for a few hours. Others were put in them for two or three days and fed on bread and water.

In 1350, the Second Statute of Labourers compelled every town and village to erect stocks in a public place.

Having its own set of stocks conferred status on small communities. A settlement that was too small to have a set was regarded as a hamlet and could not call itself a village.

Men and women in the stocks were a source of entertainment for the crowds that flocked to see them punished.

Members of the public could whip offenders until their backs were bloody and throw stones, broken pottery, dead dogs and cats, rotten fruit, bad eggs, mud and excrement at them.

Dishonest shopkeepers, innkeepers and market traders were put in the stocks.

Housewives poured the contents of chamber pots over the heads of traders who had given them “short weight.” Butchers who had sold rotten beef, lamb, pork or poultry had maggot-infested meat placed at their feet. Fishmongers who sold fish that had passed its sell-by date sat in the stocks with stinking fish hung around their necks. Customers who had been sold watered down beer by innkeepers and alewives poured jugs of stale ale over them.

Towards the end of the middle ages gangs of rogues and vagabonds made their way from town to town begging, robbing and stealing everywhere they went. To deal with these rogues and vagabonds the government brought in new laws with draconian penalties for those who infringed them.

In 1388 an Act of Parliament (12 Rich. 2) was passed making it illegal for labourers to give up their jobs and leave the hundred where they lived without the King’s permission. The statute gave borough mayors, manor stewards and town constables authority to put labourers who had run away from their employers in the stocks until they found sureties who guaranteed that they would go home and return to work.

A statute, passed during the reign of Henry VII, allowed constables to place vagrants in the stocks.

Passed in1494, the Vagabonds and Beggars Act gave the courts power to put “vagabonds, idle and suspected persons” in the stocks for three days and three nights

Under the provisions of a statute (22 Hen 8, c. 12) passed in 1530, magistrates could give “the impotent poor” permission to beg at specified places in the town or village where they lived. If they were found begging anywhere else, they were put in the stocks for two days and nights.

During 1605 a new law made the punishment for getting drunk six hours in the stocks and the penalty for being a drunkard four hours in the stocks or a fine of three shillings. Shortly afterwards, Parliament made the punishment for swearing one hour in the stocks or a fine of one shilling.

Spotlight on Biddulph Grange – Orchids, Ferns, Fossils and the Great Flood

biddulph-grange.jpeg

Biddulph Grange

We often hear that grand gardens cost money: it’s as true as the old cliché which says “money talks.” But there is a world of difference between a grand garden and a great one. Great gardens develop when that money meets vision, enthusiasm, knowledge – and a gardener. In the garden I’m going to talk about […]

To read more visit Orchids, Ferns, Fossils and the Great Flood — The Gardens Trust

Spotlight on Stafford – John Garrett, the first Superintendent of Stafford Asylum

stafford asylum

Stafford Asylum

Staffordshire's Asylums

Finding the right staff to supervise the new asylum was a
major task in 1818. After some debate, 28 year old John Garrett was appointed Superintendent
(full title House Surgeon, Apothecary & Superintendent). He had worked at
Bethlem Hospital, and so was not new to asylums. Another applicant was James
Bakewell, whose brother Thomas was a vociferous opponent of the new county
asylum, and who ran Spring Vale asylum at Tittensor. Edward Knight was
appointed physician to work alongside Garrett.

John Garrett was a qualified surgeon and remained in post
until 1841. He managed the asylum and reported annually to a committee of three
trustees and twelve visiting justices. In the asylum’s early days, John Garrett
fought back against Thomas Bakewell’s anti-Stafford campaign, which went on
into the 1820s. Garrett dismissed Bakewell’s claims that the asylum would be
viewed by the mentally ill and others alike as ‘an object of…

View original post 622 more words

Spotlight on Burslem – Molly Leigh

A poem dedicated to Molly Leigh: 

There dwelt as persons now alive depose,

Though death must soon their testimony close,

A maiden woman, born of gen’rous race,

But like a fury both in mind and face.

When at school instead of learning truth,

A wizard tutor practis’d on her youth;

Vile gains by arts unholy she acquired,

For none did dare withhold what she desired.

Her neighbours of her spells all stood in awe,

And made her every wish their bounden law;

Thus liv’d the creature, whether fiend or woman,

Till death in clemency saw fit to summon.

So when the Christian rites were duly paid,

The body in the churchyard pit was laid;

And back the cheerful mourners hied, intent

To share the feast bespoke before they went.

But who can the dire consternation paint,

Which seized the party, and made all grow faint;

For as the threshold door they pass’d,

Her apparition struck them quite aghast.

She whom but now to the calm grave they took,

Returned before them to the chimney nook;

All ghastly pale, but unconcerned was sitting,

Employed in her accustomed task of knitting.

Spotlight found this poem about Molly Leigh, the “Burslem Witch”, in Romance of Staffordshire by Henry Wedgwood published in 1877.

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