Stonnall History Group
A large-scale and high-quality map, which appears to originate from about 1800, of the Stonnall area has now been scanned at high resolution. It is very interesting in several ways. It marks every enclosure with its name and owner, it shows an empty field where the church is now situated and the Lord of the Manor is named as William Tennant. The latter two points indicate that the map was surveyed before 1820. The enclosure names correspond generally with those recorded in the Tithe Map survey of the 1830s, although a few are unique to this map. An important point to bear in mind is that it is orientated differently from modern maps.
These are the field names in central Stonnall, which I have marked on a portion of the 1901 Ordnance Survey Map. Many of the original fields had been consolidated by that year, so I have placed the field names where the enclosures used to be about 70 years previously.
The Stockhold field (also known as Stockhole, Stockhol' and Stockhoult) was presumably where visiting drovers kept their cattle overnight. It was also the fairground for the annual Stonnall Wake.
Cherry Orchard was once just that - a cherry orchard.
Well Meadow is still known by that name today by some people and is now the village playing field. Wallong is a curious name, but is really the Anglo-Saxon plural of 'well', which was 'waellen'. Such names show that that end of Stonnall was once very wet and waterlogged - a situation that is still within living memory.
In his 1794 book The History and Antiquities of Shenstone, Reverend Henry Sanders said the following:-
"In the middle of the street at Upper-stonall stood a stone cross; the base of stone in which the pillar was fixed yet remains."
He then goes on to say:-
"When the parishioners examine their bounds in their processioning, the Gospel is read at this stone, and the usual ceremonies repeated;"
What is he telling us exactly and what can we deduce from it?.
The first part is easy enough: there was once a stone cross in the middle of the road at Upper Stonnall and that, in his time, only the base of it remained in place. But where exactly was it located? Careful reading of the second part, together with a cross-reference to what is known about an annual event in Stonnall, reveals the truth.
"When the parishioners examine their bounds in their processioning..." is an oblique reference to Stonnall Wake, in which the villagers organised an annual procession around the boundaries of the village.
Rev Sanders goes on to say: "...the Gospel is read at this stone, and the usual ceremonies repeated;" In other words, the villagers assembled at the cross - and later at its base when the cross was lost - for bible readings prior to the procession.
We know that in later times the procession assembled outside the Royal Oak, long after the cross and its base had been forgotten. However, what had most certainly not been forgotten was the assembly point, simply because it was repeated annually and there was no reason to change what had been a long-standing tradition.
Thus we can deduce that the stone cross had once been located in the middle of the street near what would eventually become the Royal Oak.
This is Rev R W Essington MA, the Vicar of Shenstone, 1848-1895. He was a contemporary of Rev James Downes, who was the Vicar of Stonnall during the same period.
In his book The Annals, Rev Essington described Rev Downes as "a very genial, good-humoured man". He also mentioned how Rev Hutchinson, as a curate, had helped in Stonnall when Rev Downes had become adversely affected by old age. Rev Hutchinson would, of course, go on to be appointed as the second Vicar of Stonnall.
This is an engraving, dating from the early 19th century, of Shenstone Church. From our point of view, its importance is that it shows the clearest image yet discovered of the south chancel of the church. It is this structure, as St Peter's Chapel, that was alleged to have been dismantled at its original location in Stonnall and then re-erected in Shenstone at the place shown in the graphic. Look carefully at either side of the chancel's east-facing window and the keys attributed to St Peter can be seen. The structure appears to have had footings of sandstone blocks, while the remainder appears to have been made of bricks. The size of the chancel corresponds with the size of the floorplan that we have discovered in the triangular field next to the pinfold at Church Road/Church Lane and we have also found sandstone blocks and very many brick fragments. We know that seating in the chancel was reserved for Stonnall people.
This is a photo, from the late 1950s/early 1960s, of Alf Hopley, Bill Hopley's son. (See the very first entry of the News pages to see a photo of Bill.) The Hopley name was associated with the Royal Oak for over half a century. This picture was taken overlooking the public house's back garden.
This is a memo of Garnet Burton's induction as an Air Raid Precautions Volunteer, dated December 1938.
Some of our members posing by the Grove Hill tree, 21/9/13.