STAFFORDSHIRE FOREST AND CHASE TOUR Approx 60 miles
The first event of the year and its a beauty. Thanks to Karl Edmundson and Christopher Warburton who have worked out a great route taking in the highways and byways around Cannock Chase.
North of the cathedral city of Lichfield, the ancient hunting grounds of Needwood Forest and Cannock Chase provided sport for medieval kings and nobles. Today it consists of rich farming country, extensive forestry plantations, lovely unspoilt villages, stately country mansions, and areas of unrivalled outstanding natural beauty.
We start from The Plant Pot Garden Centre, Stafford Rd, Lichfield WS13 8JA.
The Garden Centre is open from 9.00 and we plan to be away by 10.00 and follow the route guides which will be supplied on the day.
We should be back around lunchtime and there will be food available before we make our way home. If you are coming we could do with knowing so we can let the garden centre know in advance so they can make staff available.
ON THE TOUR
The three lovely red sandstone spires of the cathedral, best seen from across the still waters of the 17-acre Stowe Pool, mark a spot first consecrated by St Chad. The present cathedral, standing in a quiet close, is an outstanding example of Early English and decorated architecture with a magnificent, restored west front.
Lichfield was the birthplace of Dr Samuel Johnson, and his home in Breadmarket Street is now a museum devoted to his life and works. His statue stands in the busy cobbled Market Place, beside that of his biographer, James Boswell.
A pleasant little town on the banks of the River Dove, with a wealth of Tudor and Georgian houses and a magnificent half-timbered inn, the Dog and Partridge. The priory church, which was built in 1100, has splendid Norman arcades, clerestory and triforium, and is without doubt one of the finest Norman churches in the Midlands.
Towering above the town is John of Gaunt’s castle ruined by Parliamentary forces in the Civil War but retaining a dignified presence. Mary Queen of Scots was an enforced visitor on several occasions, and held captive in the High Tower.
The pretty red brick village of Sudbury is perhaps best-known for its magnificent Charles II Hall, now in the hands of the National Trust this former home of the Vernon family is sumptuously decorated, and now contains a fascinating Museum of Childhood, with old toys and reconstructed classrooms.
A black and white, half-timbered village clustered around an ancient Butter Cross. The village is famous for its annual Horn Dance performed every September, which is perhaps an echo of a pagan hunting dance. Nearby is Blithfield Hall, ancient home of the Bagot family and their black and white wild goats, and the extensive Blithfield Reservoir.
Eighteenth-century seat of the Earl of Lichfield, Shugborough (National Trust) now also houses the Staffordshire County Museum, in the servants’ quarters, with a fascinating insight into life ‘downstairs.’ A working Rare Breeds Farm and restored corn mill are included in the extensive parklands, which are dotted with neo-classical monuments. Walks and trails are organised through the estate throughout the summer, so there is plenty to do for all the family.
Cannock Chase was originally the Royal Forest of Cannock, hunted by Norman kings, before it passed to the Bishop of Lichfield in 1290 and became Cannock Chase. Today it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and, with about 6,000 acres planted with conifers by the Forestry Commission, has reverted to the generally-accepted definition of a forest. Herds of fallow deer frequent the dense forest, and Staffordshire County Council have provided car parks, trails and an information centre at Milford, where the history and wildlife of the Chase is explained. The Forestry Commission has provided a Wildlife and Forest Centre south west of Rugeley on the Penkridge Road.
Cannock Chase War Cemetery
During the First World War when there was a large military camp at Cannock Chase which became the base for the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. There was also a prisoner-of-war hospital with 1,000 beds, and both camp and hospital used the burial ground.
Cannock Chase War Cemetery contains 97 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, most of them New Zealanders, and 286 German burials. There are also three burials of the Second World War.
The 58 German burials in Plot 4 were all brought into the cemetery in 1963, as part of the German Government’s policy to remove all graves situated in cemeteries or war graves plots not maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Currently we have eight cars attending but if you want to join us then please let us know ASAP.