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Stonnall History Group

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New Article: The Wake, the Stone Cross and the Chapel

This paper seeks 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. (Pictured: St Peter's Chapel, Shenstone, formerly of Stonnall.) Read more...

Rev William Hutchinson

Thanks to Desmond Burton, who unearthed a newspaper clipping, we now have good biographical information relating to Rev William Hutchinson, the second Vicar of Stonnall.

He was the third son of Rev William Hutchinson, BD, Rector of Newton Heath, Lancashire, and was a scholar and exhibitioner of Sidney College, Cambridge. He took his degree in 1878.

Ordained deacon by the Bishop of Liverpool, Dr J C Ryle in 1881 and then as priest in 1882, he was a curate at St Andrews, Southport from 1881 to 1883 and at Shenstone from 1883 to 1892. He was appointed Vicar of Stonnall in 1893, succeeding Rev James Downes. He remained in the post for the next 28 years and died in 1921. He is buried in the churchyard at St Peter's Church, Stonnall.

Comments on this item
Julian Ward-Davies
The list of mourners and wreath layers is quite interesting:-Mr and Mrs J Myatt Mr G H Boulton Miss Wright Mrs Scott Mrs Vaughan Miss Vaughan Mr J Brawn (Sandhills) Mrs J J Smith (Lynn) Mr and Mrs R Mentz Tolly Miss Beeston (Shenstone) Mr H Aldridge (Walsall Wood) Mr and Mrs T Craddock (Shire Oak) Miss Shaw (Aldridge) Mr and Mrs R W Brown Mrs T Brown Mr Simkins and Miss Simkins Mrs W D Oakley junr Mrs S WoodhouseMr W D Oakley (churchwarden) Messrs G Horton E Whitehouse J Mills senr and J Griffiths represented the Bible ClassThe schoolchildren were also present with Mr Hall (assistant schoolmaster) and Miss Cooper Mr and Mrs J Brawn (Sandhills) Mr and Mrs Furmston Mr and Mrs J J Smith (Lynn) Miss E Ensor Mr and Mrs T Brown Mr and Mrs W R BrownMrs Vaughan and family Mr and Mrs Oakley and family Mr G A Wright and Miss G Wright.
Thornes Hall Farm

This photo, showing the unredeveloped Thornes Hall Farm, would appear to date from the late 70s/early 80s. Note the Old Vicarage and Ormside House in the background. The vicarage still has its pebble-dash exterior finish.

Before St Peter's Close

This photo, dating from the early 1980s, shows part of the original route of the footroad between Church Lane and Main Street. In the foreground and into the distance to the right, it also shows part of the undeveloped Wallong field where village kids played cricket and football in the 1950s and 60s. On the far side of the boundary hedge, the present-day playing field is shown. This view is now impossible because of building development at St Peter's Close.

Early Westwick Close

This is Fred Middleton in 1963, having recently moved in with his wife, Dorothy, to a brand new house in Westwick Close. Fred had his work cut out, because here he was trying to get his unfenced garden sorted out with just a few stakes as a guide. This photo was taken several years before the shops were built on a plot somewhat to the right of this field of view. Look in the distant background where the solitary tree of Grove Hill is visible. To the right, the houses of the Ring that were completed in 1957 are visible.

Stonnall Artist Remembered

Vic Nicholls was a major artistic talent in Stonnall in the 1950s and 60s. We will be publishing a retrospective of his life and work in the near future.

Old Photo of the Manor House

This photo depicts a hunt with a crowd of onlookers outside the Manor House, Stonnall, in about 1900.

Evidence of Ancient Placename Uncovered

The Tithe Map of the Parish of Shenstone from the 1830s records property A2 as a small meadow known as Kesterton Croft. Owned by John Stubbs and occupied by James Robinson at the time, the enclosure was situated next to the canal at Catshill (now better known as Brownhills).

If we look closely at the name Kesterton, we can see that it is made up of two parts: the second, -ton, is the well-known Anglo-Saxon element that denotes a settlement; the first, kester, must be the somewhat thinly-disguised Latin word castra, which indicates a fortification. This must surely be a reference to the hillfort at Stonnall on the other side of Shire Oak Hill. Thus the placename means 'the settlement near the [hill]fort'.

The placename Catshill may also be related. Could its original form have been something like Casterhill? In other words, was Casterhill an earlier name for Shire Oak Hill, with the meaning 'the hill where there is a fortification'?

Comments on this item
Andy Dennis
Two things: Catshill is clearly a misnomer for the current place at one of the lowest points in the area; and place names migrate and change as settlement patterns evolve (a notable local example is Brownhills). Apparently, the oldest settlement in the area was at Castle Fort, which is a relatively modern name. So, did Catshill (or its predecessor) once refer to the hill in general or specifically to the ancient settlement? If the ancient settlement it would not have had a Latin / Roman name. If, as implied, the current name derives from Roman times, the ancient hill-top settlement must have dropped out of folk memory and a new name adopted. But if that occupancy had been so long abandoned, why would the name persist and migrate to the foot of the hill? Why not give it a new name to better reflect its position in the landscape, such as Kesterton's Hollow?
Julian Ward-Davies
I agree with most of what you have said and in fairness I did point out in so many words that it is probable that Casterhill was once the name of Shire Oak Hill and that Kesterton was the name of the settlement on the Brownhills side. I would also say that, when contemplating placenames, we sometimes have to imply meanings such as by, near to, next to, etc, which would account for offsets with regard to the landmarks that they are named after. Where I disagree with you is this: the hillfort never dropped out of folk memory. When Dr Plott visited Stonnall in the 1600s, Mr Brown informed him that the hillfort's ancient name was Castell Hen (I have given it modern Welsh spelling). How did Mr Brown know that? Had the name been passed down locally through countless generations since the Welsh-speaking Iron Age? Or had Mr Brown been informed by Welsh travellers who regularly passed through the village? Either way, the ancient name of the hillfort, which translates as Old Fort by the way, had by no means been forgotten.
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