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The Royal Manor of Penkhull

Interested in history? Then this new book on the ancient manor and village of Penkhull will be a must for your bookshelf.

Written by local author Dr. Richard Talbot, MBE. M.Phil. F.R.Hist.S. is the sixth book he has written since his history of Stoke Ancient parish some forty years ago. But this book will surpass all other books written on the area as it will contain over 300,000 words, 496 pictures, maps and diagrams. It will be bigger than Wards history of Stoke, 1843 and larger than Warrillow’s Sociological History of Stoke-on-Trent, 1960.

1775 Yates Map

   

Richard over the last twenty years has become one of the leading historians of the area. He lectures in adult education, regularly speaks on local radio, contributes to the local press and gives talks on a regular basis throughout North Staffordshire.

This is a book for reading, not a book just of pictures with a few captions. It is a book packed with information about the area commencing from the Ice Age, the Iron Age, the Roman occupation, the Bronze Age, the Middle Ages, the industrial revolution right up to the present day containing information researched over the last twenty years and two years in the making.

The early invaders into this area have left evidence dating from the middle Neolithic period in the form of a flint arrow head, bronze-age incense cup and a stone axe head.

It was from a period of nearly 5,000 years ago that the village of Penkhull was created, probable because of its elevated and defensive situation standing above the River Trent and the Lyme Brook. Penkhull was a Royal Manor from the time of William the Conqueror to at least 1308, the time of Edwards II before it became absorbed into the Royal Manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme. The men of Penkhull provided guard at the castle as a form of rental.

Following the demise of the castle, Penkhull became the seat for the Manorial Courts in what is now the Greyhound Inn. These Manor Court records dating from 1350 have survived and Mr. Talbot over the last 20 years has studied these and has the largest data-base of manor court records for the Manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme in the world. It is from these records that much of the history of the area has been obtained, material that has never been used by any previous historian which helps to paint a picture of life from the middle ages to the present day. The contents of this new book will re-write previously held thoughts on the history of the area.

The book consists of twenty-three chapters that cover every aspect the history of the ancient Royal Manor. Each has been meticulously researched by the author and the book represents an accurate record of events based entirely upon original research. It is not someone else’s work, which in many cases only perpetuates misconceptions of history based upon writings in some cases of five hundred years ago such as the origins of Newcastle written by Camden in the 16th century.

In fact, the origins of the Borough and the town are explored in the context of Domesday, which despite not being recorded in Domesday was in existence and was actually part of the Trentham entry. The site of the castle moat remained part of Stoke-upon-Trent until 1875.

The material for each subject has been placed into context with both national and local events and comparisons drawn from statistics from elsewhere to show how life in North Staffordshire compared from that in other areas.

Who were the first invaders and what would their settlement consist of? Pagan worship was part of life and the subject of human sacrifice will be covered and so will the origins of Stoke Church which in all probability replaced a druid circle as Christianity took hold.

The list is certainly wide-ranging: In the Beginning, Domesday Penkhull, The Royal Manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Land and Agriculture, Law and Order, Medieval Hospital, Changing Nature of Population, The Royal Manor of Penkhull, Land Occupation, The Kingdom of Spode, Concern of the Poor, Penkhull Cottage Homes, Pubs and Beerhouse, Road Network, Business and Trade, Church and Chapel, Education, Homes for the Working Classes, The War Years, The Destruction of old Penkhull, The Greyhound Inn, Court Rolls and The Urbanisation of Penkhull.

No matter what aspect of interest the reader of local history may have there is something to be found in this huge work for every taste and a serious interest to students and scholars throughout the country.

Flint Arrow head                      Incense Cup c2000 BC
   

 

     Domesday Settlements

 

 

In the Beginning: Not only is this book describing Penkhull from the melting of the ice, the first invaders into the area but also a full explanation of the discoveries which prove that Penkhull was inhabited some 4,000 years ago. The movement to the Bronze Age, through the Iron Age, the Roman occupation nearby, the Anglo Saxon settlement which brought stability and                              order make interesting reading.

For the first time the account of Domesday in 1086 will be explored with its implications. A full analogy of the wording is placed into context with other Domesday settlements and particular the boundaries to this royal manor stretching right to the centre of the town of Newcastle, to almost Hanley in the north and down to Hanford in the south. With the use of ancient records’ a map is drawn of those seventeen original homesteads of Domesday, something very impressive. Then what does the name of Penkhull mean, what were the various spellings. How did the new Norman rulers treat the villagers with regards to punishments if caught hunting in the Royal forests? All will be revealed.

Penkhull was to become a part of the Royal Manor of Newcastle, but the records of when it was a manor in its own rite are recorded to show just how important the village was in those far off days when agriculture was the means by which the community earned its living. It draws conclusions between itself and the other manors surrounding Penkhull. Surveys and numerous documents the earliest of which dates from 1414 following a visit of the ‘Black Death’ to the 18th century show a changing community as its stands alongside the market town of Newcastle and not the town of Stoke.

            The Greyhound Inn c1940             

The records for the manor courts held for around four hundred years in an old farmhouse in the centre of the village have survived. This is now ‘The Greyhound Inn’. One chapter is set aside for the purpose of explaining first the manorial legal system and the contents and purpose of the courts from 1350 onwards and how the law under the feudal system was administered. They tell a story all of their own of how all the land was owned by the Duchy of Lancaster as lord of the manor.

Despite the land being owned by the Duchy, the general administration of the area and not the land was carried out under the parochial system being a part of the ancient parish of Stoke-upon-Trent, which at one time alongside the parish of Stone, was the largest and certainly the wealthiest parish in England.

The history provides a full account of the rise of the Primitive Methodism and the early pioneers who built the chapel in 1836 and the beginning of the Sunday schools for both church and chapel attempting to out-do each other. It provides an illuminating history of the origins of the Parish Church on the former manor waste in the centre of the village.

A medieval hospital once stood of the site of the current University Hospital. Excavations some eight years ago exposed the few remains. For the first time the findings, with photographs and brief history of this hospital right on the door-step of Penkhull is included.

If the Greyhound Inn was searched on the web most of what is found, and there is a great deal on the subject, probably 90% is fantasy, or copied from previous articles without any original research being undertake. With the availability of the court records the history is given from the late 16th century to the present day, listing all the various owners over the centuries and their involvement with Penkhull.

The court records, all neatly transcribed give a wonderful overview of how Penkhull was run from the middle of the 14th century. During the Commonwealth period the manor was given over to a local butcher’s son from High Street, Newcastle who rose to 2nd in command under Cromwell, Maj. General Thomas Harrison. He is recorded as holding court at Penkhull and indicates if Penkhull remained loyal to the Crown or the Parliamentarians.

Agriculture was the main occupation of Penkhull folk supplying the needs of both Newcastle and Stoke until the years between the wars. There were three original ‘open fields’ and the workers not only cultivated their own sections, but also those belonging to the crown as a form of rental. Full accounts of who owned what, fields and the early road network are covered with an explanation of how names appeared such as Honeywall, Grindley Hill, Hunters Way, Brisley Hill and others.

The Mount – built by Josiah Spode II

 

Moving on to the early 19th century the chapter of ‘The Kingdom of Spode’ containing some 26,000 words covers all the aspects of the ownership or rental of the vast majority Penkhull during the reign of Spode II and III. Also, a full account of the building of Spode’s new home, The Mount, together with a history of other occupiers including that of a girl’s finishing school until the huge estate was split up and sold in the latter part of the 19th century.

                        Demolition of old Penkhull 1960s    

Furthermore, the development from a mediaeval village which for hundreds of years remained in a time-warp to what we have today forms the basis of changing nature of population and land ownership until the concluding chapter of urbanisation. But not forgetting the massive demolition of 80% of the village in the 1960’s by the city council as an exercise in early social engineering despite universal opposition. The blame was placed firmly on the shoulders of the Vicar at the time.

Many will recall ‘Dads Army’ that series on the T.V. Well Penkhull has its own Dads Army, Penkhull Home Guard. Here actual recordings of those involved made some 38 years ago by the author have been transcribed. Together with the abundance of church magazines and the vicars war diary a history of life in the village has been accomplished, even down to food and petrol rationing. This chapter containing some 15,000 words is packed from beginning to end of events, many funny, as well as sad as the names of the boys going to war are recorded as lost, or their bodies are returned to Penkhull for burial.

On the happier side, during the 1930s the vicar Rev. V.G. Aston wrote and produced a series on annual Revue type shows under the title of Penkhull Belles. Pictures and reports have survived as have that series of over 20 annual Christmas Pantomimes presented by Penkhull Methodists Chapel. The pictures of these and the memories take pride of place.

                                                                            The old school block built 1866

On a much sadder note, the now North Staffs University Hospital is built on the same site as the once old Stoke-upon-Trent Parish Workhouse, the Spittals. A chapter entitled ‘Concern of the Poor’ covers the history of this and all the sadness of daily life never previously research and presented. It unfolds a story of sadness on how the poor were housed, segregated, almost starved to death, just because there were poor. The history covers the first parish workhouse which dates from the early 16th century in the village of Penkhull until 1832 and uses information never previously known of whereby the church thought of sending all the poor to a new workhouse to be built at Wetley Rocks.

Penkhull Cottages Homes 

 V.E. Day Celebration 1945

In 1901 the Guardians of the Poor decided to segregate the children from adults giving them a better chance of life in a system of care. They were re-housed in Penkhull Cottage Homes, a group of houses, still standing. Here research has been done on the minute books of the home, even though they are not available to the general public and other research at Kew. These together with interviews of many of the children at the home brings such sadness to many as they record their lives in the home and the physical punishment’s dished out to some each day. Many from these homes were sent to training ships with harsh treatment, even the birch. Others were sent to Canada and Australia to work on the land from the ages of 9 years to 16 years. This chapter consists of over 19,000 words the saddest chapter the author has ever undertaken to write. These two chapters alone will significantly widen the knowledge of the poor and their children as never before. It is a record of social history not previously attempted in North Staffordshire and will contribute well for students of the subject.

                   View of Penkhull Church 1950s     

The last chapter ‘Urbanisation of Penkhull’ covers the development of the village from the early 1800’s to that of today. Almost the story of every street in the village is told. Who were the important people? What shops, pubs and beer houses were there? What were the important properties? The collection of documents, photographs and deeds included in this chapter is phenomenal. Many will bring back such happy memories. During this period the ‘Grove’ was attacked during the Chartist Riots in 1842 and therefore an almost blow-to-blow account is written covering the issues both in Penkhull and other parts of the city.

These are just a fraction of the subjects covered and with twenty-three chapters to choose from there is something for everyone. Never has there before been such a wide-ranging study made of the area, the implications of which will transform the knowledge of this part of North Staffordshire.

This book may be obtained from Dr. Talbot, 88 Newcastle Lane, Penkhull,               Stoke-on-Trent. ST4 5DR

Price now reduced to clear the remaining stock to £15.00 is collected from address above. If posted plus p.p. £10

More information e.mail: richard.talbot88@btinternet.com

Dear Doctor Talbot,  

 Thank you so much for posting a copy of your book to me last week, and also thank you for signing it.  

I am enjoying it very much, although I have had to brush up on Leet Courts and Medieval English quite a lot.  It is amazing what one brain can forget.  I am in awe that so much research and information has been so beautifully collected, sorted and presented.  Thank you ,

 Jill Dale.

The Potteries in 1835

by Dr Richard Talbot, MBE – Historian and Author of Penkhull

The Potteries of today, bears little resemblance to that of my childhood particularly in and around Hanley. The changes in infrastructure, pedestrianisation new buildings to the demolition of many of old streets, factories, churches cinemas and pubs that were familiar in my youth. To me its not before time either whereby the last twenty-five years have made up for the previous two-hundred in creating a new identity for Stoke-on-Trent.

Most of the cities slum-clearance came after the 2nd World War. Until then many of the dwellings dated from the early part of the 19th century. In the 1830s, saw considerable growth in Stoke-on-Trent as the demand for labour outgrew accommodation. The impression to the visitor was striking as for the great extent it was of workmen’s houses, streets after street, all of one size and character. As you would look across the city from some height there appeared huge stretches of conglomerated brick houses, chiefly of one size and kind, interspersed here and there with much larger ones or between great square manufacturers, with tall engine chimneys vomiting black volumes of smoke from the pot-hovels in which they baked their wares in ovens or furnaces.

There are, generally speaking, but two classes of houses, as of people. The thousands of those of the working order and the fine palace like abodes of the wealthy employers. Throughout the towns you find a jumble of houses, gardens, yards, heaps of cinders and shards from the works, clay pits, roads made of broken pots, pottery waste and soda water bottles cast out to be trodden underfoot of man. Souls of shoes would crunch fragments of cockspur’s, stilts, and triangles which were placed between wares in the furnaces.

The whole potteries appeared as one of mingled light and darkness, lights were seen scattered all over a great extent in every direction-some burning steadily, others huge filtering flames, as if from a trade from the numerous mouths of furnaces or pits on fire. Some were far below, some shone aloft as in mountainous holes.

Distance between the six towns consisted chiefly of coal and clay pits, steam engines, brick yards, stone mines and the abundance of saggars providing walls for of sheds and pigsties. All day long there would be great clouds of smoke belching out for every corner, whereby workers would breathe vapours of arsenic, muriatic acid, sulphur, and spirits of tar so taste and smell, as well as view, of the potteries becomes the familiar frame of existence.

Little of nature’s green was visible because of the over-baring pollution that determined end of life at around thirty-four. Apart one small Dispensary of Recovery at Etruria, there was little to support those who were ill with mass-killers of the day; smallpox; cholera; typhoid and typhus were left to their own devices. The poor had only the workhouse for an existence until their turn came to die.

From Burslem to Hanley and Stoke to Longton there was no escape as factory after factory, built around the quadrangle with great archways opened up a sesame of people, wagons and a chaos of crates and casks in the quadrangle with children from the age of six scurrying around to save a beating from the master with a clay cutting wire.

Such is a tolerable picture of the external aspect of the potteries, but it would be imperfect still, if we did not point out the huge-number of chapels that were scattered throughout the whole region and the plastering of huge placards on almost every brick wall giving notices of sermons upon sermon for every occasion.

The potteries were, in fact, one of the strongholds of dissent and democracy. Nine-tenths of the population were dissenters especially to the north. As in most popular districts, the Methodists have here done much to improve and reform the mass. John Wesley planted his church here, and his disciples under the various names of Wesleyan’s, New Connexion and Primitive Methodist were numerous. The New Methodist had in Shelton one of the largest in the kingdom. (The Bethesda) The very Christian names abounding here seem to imply there had long been in the people a great veneration of the scriptures such as Moses, Aaron, Elisha, Daniel, Job, Enoch, Aaron, Jacob, Elijah, Joshua and Ephraim.

Suspicious Death at Burslem

by  Dr Richard Talbot, MBE

On a typical early November morning in 1842 a group of friends and relatives stood around an open grave in St. John’s Churchyard, Burslem to pay their respects to Thomas Rowe, a well-known local shoemaker of the town. But this was not a typical death as it was clouded in mystery and disbelief and whispers between mourners as to the cause of death almost beggared belief as the word ‘blasphemy’ remained unspoken but rather mouthed in fear of the consequences.

Today, in the UK blasphemy is, I would suspect, used without consequence or even an understanding of what it means (words spoken against the existence of God, against Holy Scriptures, Christianity and other religions) and goes unchallenged being accepted at the same level of bad language – ignored. But should the reader be aware of constantly blaspheming Christ I wonder?

The offence of blasphemy was against Cannon Law in the 17th century punishable until the mid- 19th century by imprisonment, flogging or a fine. It was used as a legal instrument to persecute atheists, Unitarians and others. The first case recorded was in 1676 which formed the foundation stone of the law. “blasphemous words were not only an offence to God and religion, but a crime against the laws, state and government”. In 1841 Edward Moxon was found guilty of the publication of a blasphemous libel and imprisoned. In 1917 Lord Summer summarised the position “offences to the gods are dealt with by the gods” something that adds potency and mystery to this case. The last person sent to prison for blasphemy was John Gott in 1921 for publishing pamphlets where he satirised the biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem comparing him to a circus clown. He was sentenced to nine months hard labour.

Finally, in 1949, Lord Denning placed blasphemy laws in the past saying that “it was thought that a denial of Christianity was liable to shake the fabric of society. There is no such danger now”. It was not until March 2008 with an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act that blasphemy was finally abolished.

However, the following ‘view upon death’ (inquest) held in Burslem three days after the funeral of Thomas Rowe it is worth bearing in mind especially following the remarks in 1917 “offences to the gods are dealt with by the gods”. Rowe was rather eccentric known for his depravity in a way which would lead to the belief that he thought there was no hereafter.

One witness at the inquest stated that on one occasion, not long ago, at a public house he profoundly explained, whilst arguing with some persons present, “I would rather go to hell than to heaven; I intend to go there!” And at other public houses he observed, “someday the devil will come to me, and say, ‘I’m come for thee now’ and I shall say to him, ‘well, I’m ready for thee!’”

Such remarks, it was reported, could scarcely be believed to have emanated from a sane mind. In the case of Rowe, it was literally exemplified the passage “in the midst of life we are in death.” It was reported that on Tuesday morning he was in excellent health, partook of his dinner with apparent relish, but no sooner he had finished he complained of violent pains at its heart. His wife immediately administered brandy, and got him into bed but his ‘hour was come,’ and he expired almost as soon as he had laid down. All this was within an hour after being in the street in apparent good health. Following the inquiry, the inquest jury returned a verdict of “died by the visitation of God” so be aware!

Church attendance – do statistics mean anything?

Dr Richard Talbot MBE, Historian and Author

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase used to describe the persuasive power of numbers, particularly to bolster argument’s regarding church attendance numbers within the Church of England. The latest report by ‘The British Social Attitudes’ survey regarding the latest churchgoing’s looks bleak as it found for the first time that the number of people who belong to a religion has dropped below half of the population.

From this survey taken from a not very representative of only 3,000 found that the number of people in Britain who say they belong to a religion has dropped to only 47% of the population. This assessment suggests a collapse in religious belief since the 1980s where more than two thirds said they were members of a major religion. These results provoked a defiant response from the Church of England whereby the Bishop of Chelmsford declared that the church had a vision and “we will get on with living and sharing that vision with a few dozen people, a few thousand – whoever it is that responds to the call”. Certainly not the best response I suggest to the figures. The survey found that more than 7 out of 10 people aged between 18 and 24 have no religious allegiance and only among people over 64 was it found to be more than half. Furthermore, as the average age of congregations are getting higher there is an established pattern of a 1% loss each year because of deaths confirming that the church is in serious decline.

The report notes that the Church of England’s support has fallen from 40% from 1983, but surprisingly showed support for the Roman Catholic church that has held steady over the same period. However, it should be remembered that Roman Catholic membership may have been boosted by the immigration of hundreds of thousands of eastern European Catholics over the last 15 years such as Polish communities and those now working in the NHS.

However, nationally, the results paint a rather confusing picture as in some areas such as Norwich, Bournemouth and Birmingham congregations have been growing strongly which prompts the belief by some clergy that there will eventually be an upturn.

Nothing here is new. In 1881 the Sentinel carried out a census of attendees at churches within the Potteries and Newcastle. In comparison with today the numbers are mind-blowing. Stoke St. Peter’s the morning service consisted of 855 and the evening over 1000. At St Giles, Newcastle the morning service consisted on 376 and the evening 591. However, to place these figures in comparison the total of the C of E for Stoke-upon-Trent was combined at 3455 (49%) for both services against those of Nonconformist of 2784 (40%). For Newcastle, the C of E total was 1913 (37%) whereas the Nonconformist total was 2315 (47%). Others such as the Roman Catholic represented the difference. The average attendance for St. Giles today is 70 and for Stoke St. Peter’s 76. In comparison, the Catholic church at Newcastle is 550 and at Stoke 500. Total Nonconformity at Stoke is represented by 112 and Newcastle just over 60.

But these statistics in isolation together with those recently published fail to give the whole story. In 1881, local manufactures such as Minton and Spode were church wardens at Stoke. This no doubt encouraged hundred to attend as they wanted to be seen by the boss and felt obliged to attend. Probably, many would not be committed Christians either. Secondly, following the 2nd World War there has been unprecedented demographic changes whereby thousands in inner-city slums have been cleared and families moved from nearby town churches losing any contact they may have had and thirdly, the working status has clanged to more middle-class thereby witnessing a massive decline in Nonconformity from 1881 when chapels stood at 10 in Newcastle, Hanley 26, Burslem 19 and Longton 10. Now most have disappeared.

In view of these facts I ask what is the purpose of identifying just the C of E as a cause of concern and should the statistics be considered as with little or no meaningful justification.

On Wednesday 8th April 1831 a public meeting of the inhabitants of Stoke, Penkhull and Boothen and took place in the town hall in Stoke upon Trent to consider the expediency of an application to government, soliciting the extension of the elective franchise from the borrower of Newcastle, to the township of Penkhull which comprises of the town of Stoke and the adjoining villages Penkhull and Boothen.

Herbert Minton Esq the chairman open the business by reading the requisition which had called the meeting together and begged that affair and patient hearing might be given to those gentlemen who might wish to deliver their sentiments. He proposed to read a letter from Mr Thomas Fenton, who, as a trustee of Mr Spodes property, in Stoke, thought it his duty being unable to attend to convey his sentiments to the meeting. The purport of the committee was, that that Mr Fenton considered the discussion of the proposition for uniting Stoke to Newcastle, Premier sure to the present time and also that to his knowledge the inhabitants of Newcastle were generally adverse to it.

Mr Tomlinson Esq then spoke at considerable length in favour of the plan and adding the township of Penkhull to the borrower of Newcastle, so far as the effective franchise was concerned. He stated that the moment he read the clause in the reform Bill, which empowered a committee of the pretty counsel to add to any borrower, any township or parish lying contiguous thereto, it occurred to him that the township of Penkhull might be incorporated with the borrower of Newcastle; and that such a union would be productive of the greatest advantage. He then mentioned the scheme to Mr Minton and several other gentlemen, all of whom immediately came to the same conclusion as he had done; afterwards, Mr Minton and himself had waited upon the Mayor of Newcastle, who heartily concurred in the proposition; and scarcely an individual to whom he had mentioned it, either at Newcastle or Stoke, had raised any objection, but contrariwise, highly approved of the proposed conjunction.

Mr Tomlinson proceeded to state the advantages which would result from the accomplishment of the proposition, and which he are chiefly embodied in the resolution which follows. He had no idea of interfering with the representation for the potteries, and he could not suppose but the franchise would be bestowed upon 55,000 as readily upon 60,000. By this plan, Stoke would have a third share of the representation of Newcastle; compared with the potteries, she would only have a 20th share. Mr Tomlinson concluded by observing that, as by a single stroke of the pen without any expense, a fair share of the representation was well as a great moral and religious advantage would be conferred upon the township of Penkhull, by its union with Newcastle, he should propose the following resolution. (That as it appears that, under the reform bill, in case the same passes into law, a committee of the privy Council will have power to annex on to, and incorporate with any city or borough any parish or township adjoining thereto; it will be attended with mutual advantage to unite the town of Stoke and the township of Penkhull come Booth and, with a joins and runs into the town of Newcastle with that borough comprising together a population of 14,000 inhabitants by which union, not only a fair share of the constituency for two members of Parliament would be obtained but also the great benefit of a local magistratry, and an effective police would be conferred upon the town of Stoke at the least expense.’

Mr Minton senior Esq second the resolution observing that he was so fully convinced of the advantages of the plan, that if the reform bill passed this measure should have all the support in his power. Mr Boyle addressed the meeting at considerable length in opposition. This gentleman contended that the plan was opposed to the interest of Stoke whose welfare could only be properly considered by representatives for the potteries. At Halifax Sheffield and other places there where it was intended to extend the franchise to adjoining parishes, there was a common interest in trade and feeling; but between Newcastle and Stoke that did not exist any into interest in common. Mr Boyle considered the application for this union after the statements made by Earl Grey, by the deputation from the potteries, which statement included Stoke, might give a handle to gentlemen in Parliament opposed to the Rev reform bill. If the union could be effected the speaker was of opinion that Stoke would not be represented at all, at least during the lives of the persons assembled.

For, until death reduced the burgesses of Newcastle, there would be seven under corrupt voters there who were accustomed to receive the wages of corruption against hundred and 50, the pure constituency of the township of Penkhull. He asked how could the latter cope with the former? Could they oust the sitting member who had voted against all reform? He concluded by proposing the following amendment (that an address be presented to his Majesty, from the inhabitants of this township, expressing their entire concurrence in the bill for reform, introduced in the House of Commons by Lord John Russell, and to thank him for having given his gracious assent to a measure, which they believe will operate more than any other to promote the happiness and prosperity of these realms, – to secure the loyalty of the people to himself, – to restore confidence in his parliament, and permanent attachment to his royal house. But it

Mr Williams took the same side as a last speaker and indulge in some personalities which gave rise to a good deal of angry feeling. With respect to the Newcastle police, it is well known to be the most inefficient in the country, and the union, if elected would be the most miserable thing that could happen to Stoke. By Newcastle, she would be viewed with jealousy, and by the potteries with scorn and derision. Second the amendment.

Mr Berry suggested that the sentiment of the last speaker were to be received with caution. Being a magistrates clerk he found the craft was in danger.

Mr FW Tomlinson addressed the meeting in support of the proposition, and was heard with much attention. He replied to several of Mr Boyles arguments and particularly to that of the proposed measure being likely to hinder the claims of the potteries for representatives. With exception of Mr. Fenton he felt assured that all the inhabitants of Newcastle, as well as of Stoke would heartily join to promote the union which would be productive of mutual advantages and particularly benefit to Stoke which had everything to gain and nothing to lose. The chairman then put the amendment which was carried by a large majority another resolution, hastily drawn up by Mr Boyle stated that an address founded on the amendment should be prepared by a committee and left for signature, and afterwards be sent to Earl Grey for presentation to the king, was also carried

the thanks of the meeting were then voted to the chairman, who, after acknowledging the compliment expressed hope that he should not soon again have to perform a similar duty.

The meeting was attended by some of the most influential habitants of the township, who intended to support the measure; but the make great majority comprising many of the working classes, and other persons from different parts of the potteries, attended by the novelty of the occasion, opposed throughout. During Mr Tomlinsons address, the clamour was a time so great, as to be vent that gentleman being heard; and excitement from beginning to end was so strong, that it was only by the repeated imposition of the chairman, who manifested extraordinary patience and good humour, that the fair was bought to a conclusion.

 2 minutes 11 seconds that changed the world.

by Dr. Richard Talbot MBE, Penkhull Historian

It was interesting to read (Sentinel June 28th) that Clayboy Theatre are to present a play in October based upon people’s memories of the 1950s. Indeed, for people of my age this decade probably represents some of the most profound changes in society where two minutes and eleven seconds changed the world forever. The mid-50’s had only just finished food rationing following the end of WW II, austerity dominated life. In most terraced streets of the potteries they had no inside toilets or bathrooms, where probably no more than 20% had a TV set. There was only ballroom dancing to Victor Silvester or Max Jaffer and his Palm Court Orchestra with the addition of Glenn Miller, Family Favourites, Radio Luxenberg and singers such as Doris Day, Pat Boon, Frankie Lane and Dean Martin dominating the music-scene.

In April 1954, Bill Haley and the Comets recorded Rock around the Clock and created nothing less than a cultural revolution in the USA and Europe. It was even more remarkable that the words were penned by a sixty-year-old Max C. Friedman – one, two, three a ’clock four a ‘clock rock – that became the biggest selling single in the UK and world-wide selling around forty million copies. Its impact, recalled Tom Jones years later was spontaneous and liberating,

Because of its phenomenal success, Rock around the Clock, released in 1954 was chosen for the film Rock around the Clock of 1956, in an attempt to capitalize on Haley’s success and the popularity of his multimillion-selling recording that debuted in a fictional film about how rock n’ roll music in 1955 the Blackboard Jungle. This is still considered the first major rock and roll musical film. The new film, Rock around the Clock was shot over a short period of time in January 1956. Even the Queen requested a copy so to learn more about rock n’roll.

American rock music had a profound influence on British culture. When the film was released in cinemas in Britain, young people across the country most in their teens, flooded into cinemas where they were reported as going ‘wild in the aisles’, dancing on the seats causing damage. Many were asked to leave and in some cases the police had to be called for fear of disturbances.

In Stoke-on-Trent, the film was first shown for seven days from Sunday 2nd September at the old Gaumont in Piccadilly, Hanley with three showings daily filling all 2,300 seats. The Sentinel recorded that here there was dancing in the aisles as Haley, complete with kiss-curl sang the theme tune. It was then that audiences en-mass would surge forward to find any open-space to ‘rock n’roll’. It’s no wonder waiting lists are so high for the now aged 70s for new hips and knee replacements! In some cinemas, it was reported that there were no adults to be seen for miles around. The impact was phenomenal.

At Stratford, two youths appeared in court and discharged on payment of 4s costs. At other parts of the country there were reports of youths out of control ‘ranting and raving’ and at one cinema, in the north, over a hundred were ejected for disturbances and demanded their money back. There were similar cases where youths as young as 13 and 15 were fined £1 and ordered to keep the peace. Such was the impact of a new sound that magnetized the young as never before.

Haley followed on with songs Shake Rattle and Roll and See you later Alligator, but his success was short-lived as others filled the number spot such as Elvis Presley, Little Richard and a later Cliff Richard who appeared live on the Gaumont stage no less than three times. Haley died in February 1981 at the early age of 55, alone in his garden shed but his music remains today and still forms part of the music scene even for pensioners.

   The Royal Manor of Penkhull

Interested in history? Then this new book on the ancient manor and village of Penkhull will be a must for your bookshelf.

Written by local author Dr. Richard Talbot, MBE. M.Phil. F.R.Hist.S. is the sixth book he has written since his history of Stoke Ancient parish some forty years ago. But this book will surpass all other books written on the area as it will contain over 300,000 words, 496 pictures, maps and diagrams. It will be bigger than Wards history of Stoke, 1843 and larger than Warrillow’s Sociological History of Stoke-on-Trent, 1960.

    1775 Yates Map 11775181775

Richard over the last twenty years has become one of the leading historians of the area. He lectures in adult education, regularly speaks on local radio, contributes to the local press and gives talks on a regular basis throughout North Staffordshire.

This is a book for reading, not a book just of pictures with a few captions. It is a book packed with information about the area commencing from the Ice Age, the Iron Age, the Roman occupation, the Bronze Age, the Middle Ages, the industrial revolution right up to the present day containing information researched over the last twenty years and two years in the making.

The early invaders into this area have left evidence dating from the middle Neolithic period in the form of a flint arrow head, bronze-age incense cup and a stone axe head.

It was from a period of nearly 5,000 years ago that the village of Penkhull was created, probable because of its elevated and defensive situation standing above the River Trent and the Lyme Brook. Penkhull was a Royal Manor from the time of William the Conqueror to at least 1308, the time of Edwards II before it became absorbed into the Royal Manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme. The men of Penkhull provided guard at the castle as a form of rental.

Following the demise of the castle, Penkhull became the seat for the Manorial Courts in what is now the Greyhound Inn. These Manor Court records dating from 1350 have survived and Mr. Talbot over the last 20 years has studied these and has the largest data-base of manor court records for the Manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme in the world. It is from these records that much of the history of the area has been obtained, material that has never been used by any previous historian which helps to paint a picture of life from the middle ages to the present day. The contents of this new book will re-write previously held thoughts on the history of the area.

The book consists of twenty-three chapters that cover every aspect the history of the ancient Royal Manor. Each has been meticulously researched by the author and the book represents an accurate record of events based entirely upon original research. It is not someone else’s work, which in many cases only perpetuates misconceptions of history based upon writings in some cases of five hundred years ago such as the origins of Newcastle written by Camden in the 16th century.

In fact, the origins of the Borough and the town are explored in the context of Domesday, which despite not being recorded in Domesday was in existence and was actually part of the Trentham entry. The site of the castle moat remained part of Stoke-upon-Trent until 1875.

The material for each subject has been placed into context with both national and local events and comparisons drawn from statistics from elsewhere to show how life in North Staffordshire compared from that in other areas.

Who were the first invaders and what would their settlement consist of? Pagan worship was part of life and the subject of human sacrifice will be covered and so will the origins of Stoke Church which in all probability replaced a druid circle as Christianity took hold.

The list is certainly wide-ranging: In the Beginning, Domesday Penkhull, The Royal Manor of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Land and Agriculture, Law and Order, Medieval Hospital, Changing Nature of Population, The Royal Manor of Penkhull, Land Occupation, The Kingdom of Spode, Concern of the Poor, Penkhull Cottage Homes, Pubs and Beerhouse, Road Network, Business and Trade, Church and Chapel, Education, Homes for the Working Classes, The War Years, The Destruction of old Penkhull, The Greyhound Inn, Court Rolls and The Urbanisation of Penkhull.

No matter what aspect of interest the reader of local history may have there is something to be found in this huge work for every taste and a serious interest to students and scholars throughout the country.

Flint Arrow head                      Incense Cup c2000 BC
   

 

     Domesday Settlements

 

 

In the Beginning: Not only is this book describing Penkhull from the melting of the ice, the first invaders into the area but also a full explanation of the discoveries which prove that Penkhull was inhabited some 4,000 years ago. The movement to the Bronze Age, through the Iron Age, the Roman occupation nearby, the Anglo Saxon settlement which brought stability and                              order make interesting reading.

For the first time the account of Domesday in 1086 will be explored with its implications. A full analogy of the wording is placed into context with other Domesday settlements and particular the boundaries to this royal manor stretching right to the centre of the town of Newcastle, to almost Hanley in the north and down to Hanford in the south. With the use of ancient records’ a map is drawn of those seventeen original homesteads of Domesday, something very impressive. Then what does the name of Penkhull mean, what were the various spellings. How did the new Norman rulers treat the villagers with regards to punishments if caught hunting in the Royal forests? All will be revealed.

Penkhull was to become a part of the Royal Manor of Newcastle, but the records of when it was a manor in its own rite are recorded to show just how important the village was in those far off days when agriculture was the means by which the community earned its living. It draws conclusions between itself and the other manors surrounding Penkhull. Surveys and numerous documents the earliest of which dates from 1414 following a visit of the ‘Black Death’ to the 18th century show a changing community as its stands alongside the market town of Newcastle and not the town of Stoke.

            The Greyhound Inn c1940             

The records for the manor courts held for around four hundred years in an old farmhouse in the centre of the village have survived. This is now ‘The Greyhound Inn’. One chapter is set aside for the purpose of explaining first the manorial legal system and the contents and purpose of the courts from 1350 onwards and how the law under the feudal system was administered. They tell a story all of their own of how all the land was owned by the Duchy of Lancaster as lord of the manor.

Despite the land being owned by the Duchy, the general administration of the area and not the land was carried out under the parochial system being a part of the ancient parish of Stoke-upon-Trent, which at one time alongside the parish of Stone, was the largest and certainly the wealthiest parish in England.

The history provides a full account of the rise of the Primitive Methodism and the early pioneers who built the chapel in 1836 and the beginning of the Sunday schools for both church and chapel attempting to out-do each other. It provides an illuminating history of the origins of the Parish Church on the former manor waste in the centre of the village.

A medieval hospital once stood of the site of the current University Hospital. Excavations some eight years ago exposed the few remains. For the first time the findings, with photographs and brief history of this hospital right on the door-step of Penkhull is included.

If the Greyhound Inn was searched on the web most of what is found, and there is a great deal on the subject, probably 90% is fantasy, or copied from previous articles without any original research being undertake. With the availability of the court records the history is given from the late 16th century to the present day, listing all the various owners over the centuries and their involvement with Penkhull.

The court records, all neatly transcribed give a wonderful overview of how Penkhull was run from the middle of the 14th century. During the Commonwealth period the manor was given over to a local butcher’s son from High Street, Newcastle who rose to 2nd in command under Cromwell, Maj. General Thomas Harrison. He is recorded as holding court at Penkhull and indicates if Penkhull remained loyal to the Crown or the Parliamentarians.

Agriculture was the main occupation of Penkhull folk supplying the needs of both Newcastle and Stoke until the years between the wars. There were three original ‘open fields’ and the workers not only cultivated their own sections, but also those belonging to the crown as a form of rental. Full accounts of who owned what, fields and the early road network are covered with an explanation of how names appeared such as Honeywall, Grindley Hill, Hunters Way, Brisley Hill and others.

The Mount – built by Josiah Spode II

 

Moving on to the early 19th century the chapter of ‘The Kingdom of Spode’ containing some 26,000 words covers all the aspects of the ownership or rental of the vast majority Penkhull during the reign of Spode II and III. Also, a full account of the building of Spode’s new home, The Mount, together with a history of other occupiers including that of a girl’s finishing school until the huge estate was split up and sold in the latter part of the 19th century.

                        Demolition of old Penkhull 1960s    

Furthermore, the development from a mediaeval village which for hundreds of years remained in a time-warp to what we have today forms the basis of changing nature of population and land ownership until the concluding chapter of urbanisation. But not forgetting the massive demolition of 80% of the village in the 1960’s by the city council as an exercise in early social engineering despite universal opposition. The blame was placed firmly on the shoulders of the Vicar at the time.

Many will recall ‘Dads Army’ that series on the T.V. Well Penkhull has its own Dads Army, Penkhull Home Guard. Here actual recordings of those involved made some 38 years ago by the author have been transcribed. Together with the abundance of church magazines and the vicars war diary a history of life in the village has been accomplished, even down to food and petrol rationing. This chapter containing some 15,000 words is packed from beginning to end of events, many funny, as well as sad as the names of the boys going to war are recorded as lost, or their bodies are returned to Penkhull for burial.

On the happier side, during the 1930s the vicar Rev. V.G. Aston wrote and produced a series on annual Revue type shows under the title of Penkhull Belles. Pictures and reports have survived as have that series of over 20 annual Christmas Pantomimes presented by Penkhull Methodists Chapel. The pictures of these and the memories take pride of place.

                                                                            The old school block built 1866

On a much sadder note, the now North Staffs University Hospital is built on the same site as the once old Stoke-upon-Trent Parish Workhouse, the Spittals. A chapter entitled ‘Concern of the Poor’ covers the history of this and all the sadness of daily life never previously research and presented. It unfolds a story of sadness on how the poor were housed, segregated, almost starved to death, just because there were poor. The history covers the first parish workhouse which dates from the early 16th century in the village of Penkhull until 1832 and uses information never previously known of whereby the church thought of sending all the poor to a new workhouse to be built at Wetley Rocks.

Penkhull Cottages Homes 

 V.E. Day Celebration 1945

In 1901 the Guardians of the Poor decided to segregate the children from adults giving them a better chance of life in a system of care. They were re-housed in Penkhull Cottage Homes, a group of houses, still standing. Here research has been done on the minute books of the home, even though they are not available to the general public and other research at Kew. These together with interviews of many of the children at the home brings such sadness to many as they record their lives in the home and the physical punishment’s dished out to some each day. Many from these homes were sent to training ships with harsh treatment, even the birch. Others were sent to Canada and Australia to work on the land from the ages of 9 years to 16 years. This chapter consists of over 19,000 words the saddest chapter the author has ever undertaken to write. These two chapters alone will significantly widen the knowledge of the poor and their children as never before. It is a record of social history not previously attempted in North Staffordshire and will contribute well for students of the subject.

                   View of Penkhull Church 1950s     

The last chapter ‘Urbanisation of Penkhull’ covers the development of the village from the early 1800’s to that of today. Almost the story of every street in the village is told. Who were the important people? What shops, pubs and beer houses were there? What were the important properties? The collection of documents, photographs and deeds included in this chapter is phenomenal. Many will bring back such happy memories. During this period the ‘Grove’ was attacked during the Chartist Riots in 1842 and therefore an almost blow-to-blow account is written covering the issues both in Penkhull and other parts of the city.

These are just a fraction of the subjects covered and with twenty-three chapters to choose from there is something for everyone. Never has there before been such a wide-ranging study made of the area, the implications of which will transform the knowledge of this part of North Staffordshire.

This book may be obtained from Dr. Talbot, 88 Newcastle Lane, Penkhull,               Stoke-on-Trent. ST4 5DR

Price now reduced to clear the remaining stock to £15.00 is collected from address above. If posted plus p.p. £10

More information e.mail: richard.talbot88@btinternet.com