Castle-Church is a considerable parish in the north part of Cuttlestone hundred. It is situated to the south of the river Sow, and contains a small part of the town of Stafford, called Stafford-green; also the Old Castle, Highfields, Burton, Moss Pitt, Silk-more, and Rickerscote. In 1811, the parish of Castle-Church contained 144 inhabited houses, and 162 families; consisting of 247 males, and 319 females: total, 566 persons.
The Church, which was formerly an appendage to the ancient barony of Stafford Castle, stands on the side of the parish, remote from the greatest part of the population. Stafford Castle, which is in this parish, is situated on the summit of a hill, about a mile and a half south-west of Stafford. The ancient keep is raised on an artificial mount, of an oblong form, and the whole castle surrounded by a deep foss, with the additional fortification of a high rampart on the side which was considered the most accessible.
During the Civil war between Charles I. and the Parliament, this castle was garrisoned by the Royalists, and was afterwards demolished, according to the following order:
"Dec. 21, 1643 It is ordered by the Committee, that Stafford Castle shall be forthwith demolished. Present : Colonel Rugeley, Mr. Compton, L. C. Chadwick, Mr. Broughton, Mr. Swynfen, Capt. Stone, Mr. Greg, Mr. Pudsey, Mr. Bendy, and Capt. Foxall."
The last effort in the Royal cause at this castle seems to have been made by "the ould Lady Stafford," as she is called by Sir William Brereton, a General in the army of the Parliament, in his letter to the Earl of Northampton, which concludes thus: "there are divers considerable persons in this blocked-up castle, which we resolve to observe and attend as much as possible, until we can recover the same and disperse them."
The Castle, and the land around it, are now the property of the Jerningham family, who have laid claim to the ancient barony of Stafford. The soil is an excellent marly loam, suitable for beans and wheat, and the estate includes several considerable farms. Some years ago, the walls of Stafford Castle were cleared of rubbish, and made of an equal height, by Mr. Jerningham, and in 1815 two new towers were built. When finished, it will, from its elevated and commanding site, be a most delightful residence, and a picturesque addition to the beauties of the landscape. It is situated on the highest eminence of the hills of Billington, where they terminate abruptly, and it is probable that the ancient military station at that place had some connexion with this castle.
All the western part of this parish to Moss-pit Bank, and the Wolverhampton road, is thinly interspersed with handsome mansions. In this district, William Keen, Esq. of Stafford, has just erected an elegant house. The chief population of the parish is about Stafford and Rickerscote, or from one mile and a half to two miles and a half distant from the church.
Silkmore, in Domesday-book written Selchemore, is the manor and residence of Thomas Mottershaw, Esq. It is situated in the north-east part of the parish; the upland is a light sandy loam, and the lowland rich meadows, on the banks of the Penk, and a rivulet which comes from the west.
Rickerscote, on the south-east part of the parish, contains good estates belonging to Mr. Clarke, Mr. Perkins, and others. The upland is a good light loam, adapted to either pasture or tillage, with a sufficient proportion of meadow-land on the Penk and its collateral rivulets. These meadows have been greatly improved of late years by drainage and embankment, which protects them from inundations. Several saline springs have been found by digging in these meadows, and a spa has been discovered on the estate of T. B. Perkins, Esq. which is highly saline, moderately sulphureous, and considerably chalybeate. This spa is possessed of properties similar to the waters of Cheltenham and Leamington; containing, as has been found on careful analysis, a proportion of iron, salts, calcareous earth, and hepatic air. It is moderately aperient when taken in small doses, and has a tonic effect similar to that of other chalybeate waters when applied either internally or by immersion.
Castle Church is an ancient edifice, composed of brick on the one side, and stone whitewashed on the other, with a stone tower. It is a perpetual curacy, the patronage is in the Crown, and the Rev. Edward Dickenson, rector of St. Mary's, Stafford, is minister, who keeps a curate to assist him in his duties.