"Cannock, a large and well built village, with about 1100 inhabitants, is pleasantly situated on the western verge of the extensive heath or chase from which it has its name, on the turnpike road between Walsall and Stafford, eight miles N by W of Walsall, and nine miles SSE of Stafford, and about four miles from the Spread Eagle, Brownhills, Four Ashes and Penkridge Railway Stations. Though not mentioned in Domesday book, it was a considerable village in the reign of King John. Dugdale asserts that Henry I had a summer residence here, and there are records of a castle having existed here, though no vestiges of it now remain. The parish of Cannock is very extensive, comprising about 20,000 acres, of which more than a third is uninclosed on Cannock Chase. It has a good light soil, well adapted to the growth of corn, turnips and grass. It contains only 2852 inhabitants, and is divided into the six liberties of Cannock, Great Wyrley, Huntington, Cannock Wood, Hednesford, and Leacroft.
The whole parish, except Great Wyrley and Huntington, is in the manor of Cannock & Rugeley, of which the Marquis of Anglesey is lord. The greater part of this manor is held by copyholders, who pay chief rents and heriots. The manor includes the whole of Cannock Chase, which comprises 32,000 acres of heath, extending from the Trent, near Shugborough, southward nearly to Aldridge, a distance of twelve miles, and varying from one and a half to five miles in breadth. It was a celebrated forest during the Saxon heptarchy, being the favourite chase of the Mercian kings. At the north end, near Rugeley, and on parts of the western border, are several coal mines, in which is found a particular species of iron ore, called Cannock stone, which oxygenates so rapidly as to be capable of much useful application.
About three miles NE of Cannock village, is the Marquis of Anglesey's beautiful seat, Beaudesert Park, one moiety of which is in the liberty of Cannock Wood, in this parish, and contains the vestiges of an extensive British encampment, a little to the south of which is Radmoor, where there are some remains of an Abbey of Cistercian monks.
Cannock Wood extends from two to four miles NE of Cannock, and is the liberty which includes part of Beaudesert Park and Radmoor Abbey ruins. It has a few good farms, and 275 inhabitants, and includes a large portion of the open heath, where there are a number of cottages, with small plots of garden attached.
Hednesford, or Hedgford, two miles NE of Cannock, and five miles S by W of Rugeley, is an enclosed hamlet on Cannock Chase, containing a number of scattered houses, 304 inhabitants, and a large lake called the Hedgford Pool, covering about 23 acres. Here also is a good inn, and extensive stabling for blood horses, of which about 120 are generally trained here in the season, and exercised on the excellent turf of Hedgford Hills. The horses trained here belong to a number of the most spirited members of the turf, and find employment for eleven of the most distinguished trainers and jockeys in the kingdom. On the margin of the lake the late Edmund Peel, Esq, of Fazeley, built a handsome mansion, about 20 years ago, called Hedgford Lodge.
Huntington is a hamlet and liberty on the Stafford road, two miles N of Cannock, and contains 121 souls, and upwards of 800 acres of land. Lord Hatherton, of Teddesley Hall, is owner of nearly all the soil, and lord of the manor, which adjoins the western side of Cannock Chase, and is celebrated for its white gravel, of which large quantities are sent to distant places for covering garden walks, etc.
Leacroft, one mile S by E of Cannock, is a hamlet of 228 souls, several scattered farm houses, and a corn mill. Here are Reaumore or Rumer Hills, where there was once a noted medicinal spring.
Great Wyrley is a township, containing about 800 inhabitants, and a long village of detached houses, two miles S of Cannock and six miles N by W of Walsall. It has several collieries, which employ most of the inhabitants of the neighbouring village of Wyrley Bank. Wyrley & Essington Canal was cut under an act passed in 1792, chiefly for the purpose of affording a cheap transit for the coal got in this neighbourhood. The Duke of Sutherland and General Vernon, of Hilton Park, are owners of most of the soil and the former is lord of the manor.
Church Bridge is a small village in Great Wyrley township, one and a half miles S of Cannock, on the Watling Street, and on one of the tributary streams of the Penk, where Mr Gilpin established, about 50 years ago, an extensive manufactory of edge-tools, augers, hammers, etc, and a forge, a tilt, rolling and grinding mills, and furnaces for converting and refining iron and steel, all of which are now in a flourishing state, and give employment to a considerable number of workmen. About one mile to the W is Wedges Mills, a hamlet in Cannock township, where Gilpin & Co have another edge-tool manufactory, on the Hedgford rivulet.
Landy Wood is a hamlet in Great Wyrley township, five miles N by W of Walsall."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]