Stone in 1817


Description from A Topographical History of Staffordshire by William Pitt (1817)


Stone is a very extensive parish of Pirehill South, consisting of uneven upland, but in general of a good loamy quality. 

The town of Stone is a place of great antiquity, and owes its origin to the inhumanity of Wulfere, King of Mercia, who slew hit two sons for embracing Christianity, but afterwards repented, and converted his Heathen temples into Christian churches. The Saxons, according to custom, gathered stones and heaped them upon the place where Wulfere had slain his sons, to preserve the memory of the place, and Queen Ermenilda, their mother, erected a church over their tomb. A town was afterwards gradually built at the place, which in memory of the event was called Stone. 

The manor is not mentioned in Doomsday Book, but the Conqueror gave it to Erasmus, who held it till the reign of King Henry the First, and then it being forfeited to the King by his son Enysan de Walton, who had killed two nuns and a priest, who had settled in a small oratory in this town, in honour of St. Wulfad, before murdered there, was given to Robert de Stafford, who out of great devotion to that saint, founded a priory for canons regular of St. Augustine ; and after him the family made it their burial-place. 

The Church is a handsome modern structure of stone, built in the Gothic style, with ten windows on each side, and a square tower containing eight bells. It is dedicated to St. Michael, and is a curacy, the King being patron. We believe the Rev. Mr. Buckeridge, of Lichfield, brother or near relative to the Archdeacon of Warwick, is the incumbent ; and the Rev. Joseph Smith, is the present minister. 

Stone is a well-built market-town, situated on the northern bank of the Trent, seven miles north from Stafford. The Trent and Mersey Canal passes near the town, and has much facilitated its commerce. It is a place of considerable extent, and contains eight streets and lanes. There is a good weekly market for corn and other provisions held on Tuesday. The principal office for conducting the business of the Trent and Mersey Canal, is at Stone. 

The parish of Stone contains the townships of Beech, Kibblestone, Hilderstone, and Normacott. According to the last population returns, it contained 1,174 houses, 1,227 families ; 3,159 males, 3,111 females: total, 6,270 inhabitants. 

Stone has four annual fairs : the Tuesday after Midlent ; Shrove Tuesday ; Whit-Tuesday ; and August 5th, for sheep and cattle. 

At Stonefield, a vast and open tract to the left of the town, the Duke of Cumberland drew up his army in 1745, in order to give battle to the Scotch rebels, who had advanced to Derby. The sequel is well known. 

About half a mile from the town, a good stone bridge leads to the pleasant hamlet of Walton, whence Enysan de Walton, before mentioned, took his name. This Enysan (says Pennant) was the true founder of the Priory at Stone; but the Staffords, who were his superiors, assumed the honour of this new foundation. The church of the priory contained many magnificent tombs of this great family at the period of the Dissolution, at which time they were removed for safety to the Augustines of Stafford, but were afterwards destroyed with that place. At a short distance to the left, is a range of hills called Stone Park, an extensive farm belonging to the Gower family. This was formerly a place of some consequence, and gives title to the present Viscount Granville. 

A little further on, stands the hamlet of Stoke ; and on the opposite side of the Trent, the remains of the once spacious mansion called Aston House, which originally belonged to a branch of the Hevininghams of Suffolk, and was brought by marriage to Sir James Simeon, who rebuilt the Hall. He also erected a Mausoleum in the garden for the interment of himself and family. The vault, with two wings, in Stone church-yard, belonging to the Jervis family, was executed from the model of this cemetery. Edward Weld, Esq. of Lulworth Castle, Dorset, afterwards became possessed of this estate, but it is now the property of the Right Hon. the Earl of St. Vincent. 

Burston, a small hamlet about three miles from Stone, was anciently much frequented by the devout, on account of a chapel said to have been erected on the spot where Rufus,the second son of Wulfere, was supposed to have suffered martyrdom. The road from Burston passes, for several miles, along a beautiful vale, watered by the Trent, and enlivened by the Canal, which winds very picturesquely through the meadows. The prospect is bounded by some well-wooded hills called the Orangies, &c. behind which lie the lordships of Hilderston and Milwich. The former was the demense of Robert Bagot in the reign of King Henry I. which he held of the Baron of Stafford, but it afterwards changed its lord, for in 12th Edward I. one Vitalis held this manor of Robert de Stafford, and soon after it came into the possession of Robert Hugglesford, whose family held it till the end of King Edward Illrds reign. It afterwards became the estate of Sir John Delves, whose only daughter and heir carried it by marriage to Sir Robert Sheffield, Knt. Recorder of the City of London. It afterwards was sold to Sir Gilbert Gerrard, of Gerard's Bromley, who was Master of the Rolls in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.