Heritage > Counties > England
The home of some of the finest pottery in the world. The area around Stoke-on-Trent being known as 'The Potteries'.
The county covers an area of just over 1,000 square miles with a population of just over 1,000,000.
Apart from the world famous china and earthenware produced in the potteries, Staffs also produces coal from the north of the county.
The county is largely flat , comprising the Vale of Trent and it's tributaries. It has as it's main town's the city of Stoke and the town of Stafford (the administrative headquarters).
Facts on the region
Origin of name: Comes from the Old English 'ford by the landing place', 'steath' being a landing place.
Name first recorded: 1016 as Staeffordscir.
County Town: STAFFORD Has the large Norman church of St Chad with splendid arcades and arches. The museum holds many special exhibitions throughout the year.
County Rivers: Trent, Penk, Sow, Blithe, Tean, Dove, Churnet, Tame.
Highest point: The Ordnance Station at 1,657 feet.
Staffordshire's local government: A large part of the county is governed on a two tier basis with Staffordshire County Council and the eight District Councils of Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme, South Staffordshire, Stafford, Staffordshire Moorlands and Tamworth. The rest of the County has three solely Staffordshire unitary councils, Stoke on Trent, Wolverhampton and Walsall, and three more shared with the Counties of Shropshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire, namely Birmingham, Dudley and Sandwell.
The local landscape
Staffordshire achieves the geographical feat of very nearly uniting Birmingham and Manchester. It spreads from the northern suburbs of the former almost to Macclesfield, within ten miles of the southern parts of the latter. The open heath and dreary urban wastelands to the north west of Birmingham was known as the Black Country because of their iron and coal industries. There is a distinctive dialect spoken here. Cannock Chase in the middle, south of Stafford, is wild and ferny heathland, once a medieval hunting forest.
Fast-growing industries in the past two centuries of industralization and a proliferation of water transport by canal have not urbanized this county. In fact the county and its villages are very rural, and indeed much is still a farming area. Well drained in the north by valleys (notably that of the Trent River and Dovedale) it is a hilly extension of the Derby moors.
Walsall bought the Blackpool illuminations to bring a little bit of colour to the Staffordshire Black Country.
Local Towns and Villages
BURSLEM: Another of the Five Towns (as in Arnold Bennetts Anna of the Five Towns).
BURTON UPON TRENT: The major brewing town of Britain with two brewery museums and brewery tours: what more can you say?
HANLEY: One of the Five Towns and full of pottery workshops as well as a city museum, theatre and an art gallery displaying a huge array of ceramics.
LEEK: Set in moorland at the southern end of the Peak District and a good set-off point for walkers cyclists and riders. Also plenty of antiques and bric-a-brac to browse through.
LICHFIELD: A small city with a splendid 8th-century cathedral with illuminated manuscripts. A Heritage and Treasury Exhibition in St Mays in the middle of the market square are well worth a visit.
STOKE-ON-TRENT: Britains main pottery and ceramics centre. The sixth town of the famous five.
UTTOXETER: Great name! Wotochesede in the Domesday Book or Ucheter to locals today, but it may have derived from Witta which was a mans name and an old word for heath.
WALSALL Came to fame on leather, as in the local soccer teams nickname The Saddlers.
WEST BROMWICH Another Black Country town and home to the famous Albion! The timber-framed Manor House, dating from the early 14 century, became a restaurant.
Places to Visit
Shugborough, Stafford, Staffordshire
Ancient High House, Stafford, Staffordshire
Biddulph Grange Garden, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Chillington Hall, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire
Ford Green Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Izaak Walton's Cottage, Shallowford, Staffordshire
June: National craft fair in Stoke.
The folk horn dance, of Norman origin, takes place at Abbots Bromley, near Rugeley, in September (normally on the Monday after the Sunday following 4 September from 8 till 8!). The dancers attire includes a man on a hobby horse, a maid, a jester, a boy with a bow and arrow, an accordian player an triangle player plus six wearing reindeer antlers.
May: Staffordshire County Show, Stafford.
Famous names from the region
Reginald Joseph Mitchell was the aircraft designer who created the World War II fighter the Spitfire. He was born in Talke, son of a schoolteacher. His life story was made into a biopic produced by and starring Leslie Howard: First of the Few.
Arnold Bennett, the Victorian novelist, put Stoke and its neighbours on the map with his famous novels of the Five Towns. He lived in Stoke for seven years.
Doctor Johnson, a famous 18th century literary figure, was born and brought up in Lichfield.
The fishermans writer (Compleat Angler) Izaak Walton was born in Stafford.
Josiah Wedgwood was born in Burslem and founded his pottery in the Five Towns.
Anthea Turner and actor Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly) are both from Stoke.
TVs Frank Skinner of Fantasy Football fame is from West Bromwich.
Actress and writer Meera Syal was born in 1963 in Essington not far from Walsall.