Written to mark the 1100th anniversary of the foundation of Aethelflaed’s burh, ‘Stafford: a History’, by Roger Butters and Nick Thomas, is a detailed history of the county town from prehistoric times until 2013. It runs to 505 pages and about 270,000 words, and contains much information believed not to have been published before. In particular more detail has been given of the town’s role in national events than is usual in works of local history. It is profusely illustrated throughout, several of the pictures likewise being published for the first time. Every effort has been taken to ensure accuracy, the text being being checked by other local historians, all specialists in their own field. The numerous footnotes include not only sources, but much additional information and occasional quirky anecdotes.
Some of the book deals with characters and events already well-known to many Staffordians: the legendary foundation of the town by St Bertelin: establishment of a fortified burh under Alfred the Great’s redoubtable daughter, Aethelflaed: the visit of Elizabeth I: Charles I and Prince Rupert at the High House: the battle of Hopton Heath: Izaak Walton: the playwright and Stafford MP Richard Brinsley Sheridan: executions at Stafford, including that of William Palmer, the Rugeley poisoner: and the history of local industry. Each however is discussed in greater depth than previously, without loss of clarity.
Others are less well known: one of the last stands against the Norman Conquest in the Battle of Stafford: Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, raising Richard III to the throne, and his possible role in the death of the Princes in the Tower: the town’s connection with the Gunpowder Plot, and the rebellions of the Duke of Monmouth: the Stafford MP who presided at the trial of Charles I: electoral corruption in the town during the early 19th century: famous trials at the Assizes, including those for witchcraft and blasphemy: history of the local theatre: the Czar of all the Russias being employed in the town: and famous sportsmen with strong links with Stafford. Not to mention a flying saucer seen at Ranton!
‘Stafford: a History’ (price £24.99) is available from the authors, who can be contacted on email@example.com.