Sunday, 1 May 2016

Staffordshire Day today!

Josiah Wedgwood statue at the Victoria & Albert Museum

It's Staffordshire Day today!
It is 1000 years since the first recorded mention of the term Staffordshire, written as 'as Staeffordscir'  in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (for 1016) - so this is a millennium anniversary. 
And why May 1st?  I wondered that; but it turns out that May 1st was the date of the founding of the
Wedgwood pottery company, which is based in Staffordshire, and, arguably, the county's most historically famous name.
Staffordshire Day logo
Why the powers that be wanted to tie Staffordshire Day into the pottery industry, I don't know, but even the Oxford Companion to British History states quite categorically that "Staffordshire is one of the counties most affected by the industrial revolution" so, there you go.
It's all a bit artificial, but it's fun.


Old Josiah Wedgwood himself might have be surprised at seeing his work made quite so central to the whole county's identity, but then again, there are probably more famous images of him than any other Staffordshire figure.     (Barring Saint Chad of course - and Sir Stanley Matthews...)       The one in the picture above is on the side of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London - although the most famous statue of him is in Stoke.

Strangely enough, I celebrate 1000 posts on this photo-blog myself this month.  Bit of a coincidence...

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Rugeley Roman mystery

Roman soldier statue

No one actually seems to know what this Roman soldier is doing here, on the facade over some shops in Rugeley.  The sculptor is unknown; and the material it is made out of is fibreglass.  Rugeley has no more Roman history significance than any other market town in England.
Most puzzling.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

As old as it gets in Alstonefield


Alstonefield
may be a remote village, away in the hills of the Peak District, but it also has some of the oldest monuments in the county.  The ancient church and churchyard, which is over 1000 years old, is fairly littered with Saxon stone fragments.
Even the base of this Saxon carving that you see here is probably Saxon (with its characteristic knotwork) itself, being most likely a former wayside cross.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Dudley & Dowell 'collectable'



'Dudley & Dowell Ltd /Cradley Heath /Staffs' - so proudly reads this metal drain cover, which I saw near Norbury Junction.
It's the sort of thing one never notices - but the distinctive smell of sitting & stagnant water emanating from it, erm... alerted me to its presence.

Of course the town of Cradley Heath was 'moved' from Staffordshire into West Midlands County in a local government reorganisation nearly forty years ago, so it shows you how old this drain is - and how long these metal creations last!
In days gone by, the Black Country, of which Cradley Heath was part, really did have a reputation for iron work, so the address would have carried something of that reputation to the casual passer-by.

Believe it or not, old manhole covers by Dudley & Dowell are collectors' items.
Don't know about drain covers though. Hmm.

This post was featured on the City Daily Photo Monthly Theme Day.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Making a monument to himself

Wedgwood Monument, near Audley

There was a certain arrogance to some of the rich squires of old.
John Wedgwood’s will specifically wanted a huge monument to be erected to himself after his death: "I desire my body to be interred within my estate at Bignall End in a vaulted tombe at the summit of a certain field called Old Hill…..and my executors to cause an obelisk or monument to be erected."
Sure enough, his executors built this monument, in 1845.

What's more, the present sight is only a quarter of its original size - after a lot of it fell down a few years ago.
I wonder if any of us would, nowadays, want to seen as so openly self-important.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Heritage dilemma

Stained-glass lancet at 'Old Chancel' in Rugeley

On the outskirts of Rugeley town centre stands the 'Old Chancel' as it is now known. This medieval (12th Century) building forms part of the ruins of the former parish church of the town.  Whilst not exactly derelict, the site is isolated and subject to occasional petty vandalism.
The chancel, which is as big as a squash court only, is permanently closed to access.

What is amazing to think is that its lancet window (in my photo) consists of some rare fourteenth-century stained glass "of a beautiful hue" according to Landor's history. It is protected by a mesh, yes, but....
It's said that we are heritage-crazy in this country (in fact, a bit too fond of the past), but I find it quite bizarre that this glass has not been lifted and transferred to a museum - before it is broken by some kid who is determined to do damage...

Monday, 11 April 2016

Greens return

Mayfield landscape

Shades of green are seeping back into the landscape after the black lines of winter; and we have had a bit of sun too (though it hasn't been a reliable feature!).

This is a view looking down from the ridge over Mayfield.

Friday, 8 April 2016

In at The Knot? Or not?

Knot Inn pub sign

Two more 'Stafford Knot' appearances for my collection!  The Stafford Knot is the symbol of the county, and I like to collect the different interpretations that artists give to the rebus.
In this instance, the knot is the right way up - unlike the example in my last post.

It vaguely amuses me to wonder how the staff at the Knot Inn answer the phone. They surely don't pick it up and say "K/Not in...", do they?

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Heart is 'knot' in it

Stafford College sign

Stafford College is trying to combine two symbols here - a heart and a Stafford knot - in order to make its slogan "The Heart of Staford" work.

The trouble is that the Stafford Knot is not in this shape: its two loose ends in fact should emerge at the top, not the bottom of the design (there is good reason for this - see the legend of the knot).
Has the college deliberately decided to ignore the legend?

Saturday, 2 April 2016

No CDs thanks, we're vinyl

Shop-front to Those Old Records, in Rugeley

Is this the most colourful shop-front in the region? Probably.

Those Old Records, a shop dealing exclusively with vinyl, has an outstanding psychedelic-music section.  Which you might guess from the decoration!        But all eras are well represented - from 1950s jazz to coloured-vinyl punk.

You'll find the shop in Rugeley's Brewery Shopping Arcade, a sort of indoor market.