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Stonnall History Group

Articles Index and Guide

About the Articles Index
The following represents a list and brief description of all the articles and other items that are currently available on this website.

Note that efforts are continuing to ensure that all articles are optimised for display on mobile phones. It is hoped that this work will be completed by the end of 2018.


The Lost Lake of Stonnall
Julian takes a close look at the landscape around Stonnall to determine how Lynn received its name.
This paper is intended to show that the roughly rectangular piece of land that is enclosed by Wall Heath Lane, Lynn Lane and Mill Lane at Stonnall in Staffordshire was the site of a lake.
The Stonnall Mysteries
Julian takes us on a tour of the village and its neighbourhood, pointing out its historical features one by one.
This paper is intended to identify a number of mysteries associated with Stonnall and its immediate neighbourhood.
The Lost Lanes of Stonnall
Julian identifies various unmarked, unrecognised and lost features of the landscape.
This paper has a number of purposes. As its title implies, the intention is to identify various lost features of the local landscape.
Grove Hill, Stonnall
Julian investigates Grove Hill and suggests a solution to the mystery of its solitary tree.
For decades, the solitary tree at Grove Hill, Stonnall, has been the cause of endless fascination and speculation among residents, visitors and passers-by alike, to the point in which it has long since acquired iconic status.

Old Stonnall

Memories of Old Stonnall
Gordon recalls the features, people and places in 1930s and 1940s Stonnall.
I was born in Lynn in 1929 and I continued to live in Stonnall until 1957 when I got married and moved to Shire Oak, where I have been ever since. These are my personal recollections of Old Stonnall.
Stonnall in the Old Days
Alan and Pamela recall the features, people and places in 1940s and 1950s Stonnall
Alan Ramsell was born at Fighting Cocks Farm, Cartersfield Lane, Stonnall on August 5, 1935. Pamela Ramsell (née Lee) was born at the Wooden House (the Bungalow), Druid Heath, Stonnall on October 1, 1940. They have lived in the village ever since. These are their recollections of life in Stonnall.
Old Stonnall Remembered
Alan remembers Stonnall in the 1920s and 1930s
I was born in our farm cottage on Chester Road and lived there until I was 14. My father was a general farm hand at Gainsborough Hill Farm, in particular specialising in the cutting and laying of hedges in the appropriate season.
Lower Farm
Steve's set of historical Stonnall photos
Lower Farm was probably constructed in the early to mid 18th century in response to the potato boom shortly after cultivars of that species had been introduced from North America at around that time.
Lower Farm
Will an old photo give up its secrets?
About ten or so years previous to time of writing, the last member of the family who had occupied Elm Cottage for many decades, Albert Higgs, passed away. When the house was cleared shortly afterwards, several interesting photos were discovered.

Historical Investigations

The Lost Chapel of St Peter
Julian assembles all the documentary and archaeological evidence that points to the whereabouts of the chapel
In 1769, the former Curate of Shenstone, the Reverend Henry Sanders compiled his History and Antiquities of the Parish of Shenstone. At that time, Stonnall was a component part of the parish and thus his account contains a considerable amount of detail relating to the village and its neighbourhood.
The Royal Oak Photo
Julian pins down the people and purpose of this early 20th century photo
In the early 20th century, a photo was taken outside the Royal Oak public house in Upper Stonnall, in which a number of adults and children are depicted.
The Wake, the Stone Cross and the Chapel
What was Stonnall Wake? Where was the village's stone cross? What about its Chapel of Ease? Julian investigates with this detective story
This paper will seek to establish links between three features of Stonnall history that are all now lost. These are: Stonnall Wake, which was an annual village festival that seems to have been abandoned in 1939; a stone cross, which was located somewhere in the middle of the road in Upper Stonnall; and St Peter's Chapel, which was Stonnall's late-mediæval place of worship.
The Stonnall Carnival Photo
How the story behind an old photo was uncovered
For some time, a mysterious photo had been in circulation that depicted an event that had taken place quite obviously in Stonnall at some point.
The Lost Stonnall Hoard Mystery
In 1824, a grave and hoard were found in Stonnall. What became of them?
On February 12, 1824, while digging away some earth in order to extend a rickyard, some labourers came across a grave at a depth of 6 feet that had been fashioned out of the sandstone subsoil.
Bronze Age Hoard
The original Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society article about the Bronze Age discovery at Greensborough Farm
On 12 February 1824, labourers removing sand from the side of a hill to enlarge the rickyard of Greensborough Farm, Shenstone, in South Staffordshire found, about 6 ft. below the surface, a grave of the usual churchyard form cut north-south in the sandstone rock.
The Origins of Lichfield
Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society's article about the origins of the town
Topographical and documentary evidence is examined which suggests that Lichfield is not an ancient urban foundation but a medieval 'new' town of about 1150.
The Mystery of the Hill Fort
Julian assembles all the evidence relating to the hill fort at Castle Hill, Stonnall
The hill fort located at Castle Hill, Stonnall presents us with a substantial mystery that can be circumscribed by the following questions: who built it, when was it built and why was it built?
British Iron Age Tribal Names
The meanings of some British Iron Age tribal names
Many of these names can be interpreted with the use of Modern Welsh.

The Language of Local Place-names

Echoes from the Past
Julian presents some ground-breaking research on the ancient district, field, road and water-feature names in and around Stonnall
In this paper, we will explore the origins and meanings of some of the place-names that are associated with enclosures, roads, lanes, streams and districts, as recorded in maps of the Stonnall area and other documents.
Brittonic Place-Names in the West Midlands
Identifying and interpreting Brittonic place-names in the West Midlands
This Google Map shows local Brittonic toponymy in an ongoing project that is unlikely ever to be completed.
The Name of the Roman Settlement at Wall
Jim Gould of Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society presents an in-depth evaluation of this ancient name
One of the questions frequently asked by visitors to the excavations conducted by this Society at Wall (Staffs.) concerns the name Letocetum.


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History from the Records

Stonnall Women's Institute - The War Years
Julian examines the records of Stonnall WI to discover what was taking place in the Second World War
From its origins in Canada as an offshoot of the Farmers' Institute in 1897, the British Women's Institute commenced activities on September 11, 1915, as a means to engage more women in food production in rural areas during the First World War. The Women's Institute in Stonnall was formed in 1927 and has been operating continuously ever since.
The Stonnall Pages
Rev Sanders describes the Village of Stonnall as he knew it in the mid-1700s
The following pages are extracts from The History and Antiquities of Shenstone by Reverend Henry Sanders. These pages represent his impressions of the village of Stonnall as it existed in the mid-1700s.
Historical Snippets
Stonnall Historical Snippets
A collection of short essays that will be added to over time.

Church History

St Peter's Church, a History to 1973
Rev Ward-Davies takes us through the history of the church on the occasion of its 150th anniversary
In December 1821, the Vicar of Shenstone, the Rev James Hargreaves MA and his churchwardens drew up a petition in their endeavour to build a Chapel of Ease at Stonnall for the 700 inhabitants of the Parish of Shenstone who lived in the hamlets of Little Aston, Upper and Lower Stonnall, Lynn, Thornes, Hilton and the Bosses at distances from 2 to 5 miles from the Parish Church.
Rev James Downes
Eric's biography of the first Vicar of Stonnall
The first we learn of Revd James Downes is from A History of Walsall Wood by Arnold Merrett. The Governors of Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall had caused to be built a schoolroom in Walsall Wood, to which in 1829, James Smart had been appointed Master. Sunday services were held in this schoolroom and we are told that Revd James Downes travelled from Burton-on-Trent to conduct these services in the early 1830s.
The First Vicar of Stonnall
Another view of Rev James Downes, from a family perspective
As far as I know, I am one of four great-great-grandchildren of Rev James Downes, the first Vicar of Stonnall, and it was a great privilege to visit St Peter's recently.
John Mellor Remembered
Julian recalls a man who played a significant role in the history of Stonnall and Shenstone
For a period in the early to mid-19th century, John Mellor (b 1786) was the bailiff and estate manager of the Manor of Shenstone.
The Church Clock and Bell
Tony investigates the history of timekeeping at St Peter's Church.
Having fallen into a state of disrepair, the clock at St Peter's Church, Stonnall, was fully renovated in 2008. It now keeps good time and strikes the hours accurately.

Shenstone History

Friends of Shenstone Tower
The Reconstruction of Shenstone Tower
As you know, Shenstone had a Saxon Church which was referred to in the Domesday Book, and a medieval church was built on its Saxon foundations. In Victorian times, the old church was too small for the parish’s congregation and in 1853 our present church was built.
The Pinglefield Murders
Murder most foul in Shenstone in 1929
The incident took place on Thursday, April 18, 1929, at Pinglefield Cottages, Streetway Lane, Shenstone. It resulted in the deaths of four individuals, including two men, one woman and one child.
 Shenstone Mill
The History of Shenstone Mill
In this photograph we are travelling down Pinfold Hill to the crossroads on a gloomy winter evening in the 1960s and we are met with the sight of this impressive red brick building proclaiming "Shenstone Mills Ltd".

Stonnall Artists

Vic Nicholls
Mary remembers her artist father
Vic was born Victor Harold Nicholls in Aldridge in 1910. He was the eldest of seven siblings. He showed artistic promise from an early age. His mother kept a postcard depicting some sheepdogs that he painted at the age of 5.
Alan Heywood
Alan Heywood was a very talented illustrator and Peg was active in Stonnall WI for many years
My father was born in 1916, in Chadderton, near Oldham in Lancashire, the only child of working class parents, David and Jane Heywood. Though reasonably bright at school, financial pressures meant that going on to grammar school was never an option.

People and Places

Escape from the Russian Front
The story of how a German boy-soldier dodged the Russians, became a POW and ended up in Stonnall.
When World War 1 ended, Germany, a defeated nation, was in the aftermath of this horrendous war, in utter turmoil and economically unsound. Revolutionary elements were raising their ugly heads after the harsh treatment dished out by the Treaty of Versailles.
The GI Bride
Dot recalls when she met and married an American soldier during the Second World War, how she moved to the USA and what followed.
I was born in Penkridge in 1923 as Dorothy Maud Besant. When I was little, I stood out because of my very red, curly hair. The family spent some time in Footherley, but I was just a few years old when we settled in Rileys Cottages in Hilton in the Stonnall area.
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