A History of the County of Stafford: v. 6 (Victoria County History)
By: D. A. Johnson (volume_editor), M.W. Greenslade (volume_editor)Hardback
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This volume completes the general articles planned for Staffordshire and also contains the history of the county town. Four articles on agriculture survey a thousand years of farming. Cultivation gradually reduced the extensive woodlands recorded in Domesday Book. The progress of arable farming in the south was paralleled by that of stock-rearing in the north, while from the 17th century dairying became increasingly important. The water meadows of the Dove were famous. By the 19th century Staffordshire was a county of great estates noted for improving landlords and agents who encouraged new crops and techniques. Today farming still occupies over two-thirds of the county. There are articles on the more important public schools and endowed grammar schools and on Keele University, the first of the new universities after the Second World War. The story of Stafford Borough, not told before on a comparable scale, begins with a settlement in a loop of the river Sow, existing perhaps by Roman times and later associated with the hermitage of the Saxon St. Bertelin. Stafford, first appearing in written records in 913, became the county town of the new shire which was laid out round it.
William the Conqueror built a castle there in 1070; King John recognized the town's borough status with a charter in 1206. By then there were two parish churches, the collegiate church of St. Mary and the little St. Chad's, a gem of mid-12th-century architecture. Stafford's most famous son is Izaak Walton, born there in 1593. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who was M.P. for over 20 years from 1780, proposed the toast 'May the manu-factures of Stafford be trodden under foot by all the world', a reference to the footwear industry. Although only one shoe factory now remains, many other industries flourish, notably electrical engineering, introduced in 1903. By 1971 Stafford was a borough of over 5,000 acres and 55,000 inhabitants.
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