This morning we took the 9.35 am bus (no. 841) from Great Haywood to Stafford which took about 15 minutes and dropped us off right in the centre of the town near to the Theatre and Tourist Information Centre. We walked into the Market Square although there was no market in progress there is a large indoor market just off the square.
This Gun maker and Rural Sports shop is located in a corner of the square, an unusual sight for a town..
Next we visited St Mary’s Church where we were warmly welcomed by a warden and give a brief history and then allowed to wander around. The earliest references to a church in Stafford are from the 10th Century which mention a wooden building on the site of St Bertelin's Chapel, the foundations of which are still to be seen at the west end of St Mary's today. This was replaced with a stone structure c.1000A.D. Some stonework in the nave of St Mary's is said to be Norman in origin but the building as it stands today appears to be the result of a total rebuild in the early C13th and the cruciform layout with aisled nave and chancel is typical of this period. Work may have begun in the reign of King John (ruled 1199 - 1216).
In 1878 a public subscription raised funds for a bust of Izaak Walton in the former North Door of the Nave overlooking the font where he was baptised on September 21st, 1593. Izaak is best known today as the author of The Compleat Angler, a book which defies accurate description but which is usually regarded as an elaborate fishing manual. In truth, Izaak had a much more profound message to convey. The message, hidden because of the turbulent times in which he lived, is all the more moving if one knows something of his life story. Annoyingly, the founding father of English biography left us scant details of his own life. The Compleat Angler was first published in 1653 and revised three times during his lifetime, The Compleat Angler was sub-titled "a discourse on rivers, fishponds, fish and fishing". It is really a plea for tolerance and moderation in matters of conscience - virtues which were in short supply. Such a book could never have been openly published at the time, hence the fishing manual disguise.
The Stafford Riverway Link is a new name for the old Stafford Branch Canal or River Sow Navigation which formerly linked the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal at Baswich with the town centre of Stafford. The restoration project aims to rebuild this link for community benefit. The link consisted of a short section of canal branching off the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal near St Thomas Bridge 101 leading via a basin and an aqueduct over a drainage channel into a lock down into the River Sow. From here the river course was straightened and made navigable for 1½ miles to its terminus at a basin near Green Bridge in Stafford. This section is next to the water mill
The Ancient High House is an Elizabethan town house located on the main street in Stafford. The house was constructed in 1594 by the Dorrington family, from local oak, which anecdotally came from the nearby Doxey Wood, and is the largest timber framed town house in England. Many of the original timbers bear carpenter's marks indicating that the frame was pre-assembled on the ground and the joints numbered to aid the on-site construction. Some timbers have additional joint housings cut into them, which would suggest that they have been reused from an even earlier structure. It was not unheard of for a building to be dismantled and rebuilt at a different location - hence the expression to 'up-sticks', which means to move house. It is now a museum.
Near to the church is the Candle Shop (Magic by Candlelight) and whilst I browsed around the music shop opposite June purchased this ceramic light dome under which you put a tea light or scented burner to illuminate it.
Returning to Great Haywood we stopped off at the Lockhouse Resturant for a late lunch and I must say it was a delightful meal served by very friendly staff who could not do too much for us. We will certainly be going back.
We returned to the boat and later I took Ecco a walk along the path on the opposite bank. We spotted these Yurts in the distance on the other side of the river. Not sure I fancy this luxury camping though. They are part of the Shugborough Adventure Yurt Village.
When we returned to the boat there was still a cold wind and I lit the fire but as I walked through the woods the wind dropped and like the previous evening it became quite warm to the extent that we had to open all the doors and windows to let the boat cool down until about 7.30 when the sun went down.