Welcome

Welcome to Penkhull History Society.

St.Thomas Place, Penkhull c mid 1950s

This site carries and extensive catalogue of local history information within its pages all of which have been skilfully put together as an information pack that we hope will meet the interests of a wide range of people seeking information of Penkhull and the surrounding area.

On a regular basis you can find items covering a wide rage interest in the form of essays from the pen of Dr Richard Talbot which have proved so successful over the last few of years. This is found under the heading “From the pen of Dr Richard Talbot’.

Currently, the number of hits to this site are really impressive from all over the world reading sometimes 80-90 per day (staggering) and we do encourage those who find the information helpful to write a comment to Dr Talbot on the contact e.mail address that he can publish at some future date. We also welcome small contributions to this site o0f memories or local interest.

Please send via the em address found on the contact page

Interested in the history of Penkhull, well this may be of interest to you.

This is the sixth book I have written the first some 50 ago. There were 2000 printed and there remains just around 100 left and once sold there will be no more. It contains over 300,000 words, 496 pictures, maps and diagrams, the largest history book ever written in N.Staffordshire – and it could be yours. 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 forming 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.

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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. 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.

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. With the use of ancient records, a map 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?

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.

The history provides a full account of the rise of the Primitive and Anglican churches from the early pioneers who built the chapel in 1836 and 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.

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.

Moving on to the early 19th century the chapter of ‘The Kingdom of Spode’ 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.

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 ArmyPenkhull Home Guard. Here actual recordings of those involved made some 48 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. There are many funny story’s 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 there was 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.

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, later known as Victoria Buildings which dates from the early 16thcentury until 1832.

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 homes. 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 punishments 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.

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.

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. These are just a fraction of the subjects covered to choose from which 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 direct from Dr. Talbot. Its reduced from £25 to just £15 to clear remaining copies and delivered free to Penkhull. Outside there is a £5 additional charge. Payment via bank transfer and order direct with delivery address on my email address. Please message me for bank details. Remember it would make that perfect gift for Penkhull and once sold out will certainly become a collector’s item.

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

Our Tutor.

The tutor for Penkhull History Society is

Dr Richard Talbot MBE, PhD, M.Phil, F.R.Hist.S.

a long established academic historian who until recently lived in Penkhull for over 40 years but was originally from the town of Stoke. He attended Boothen C of E Junior School, then St. Peters Secondary School near to the old Victoria Ground in Boothen Old Road, Stoke.

As his interest grew he decided to see if he could attend university to obtain a degree in history. As a mature student, with a number of history books to his credit he was accepted by Keele University on an M.Phil three year course and was successful. 

Following his publication of his last work ‘The Royal Manor of Penkhull’, (still available) the largest book ever written in North Staffordshire at over 300,000 words, Richard then signed up for a PhD at the University of Leicester – subject the Victorian Poor Law.

Richard is also a ‘Fellow of the Royal Historical Society’ and writes historical articles on a regular basis for The Sentinel newspaper.

All items that appear on this site are © – Richard Talbot

Books Published

The Church and Ancient Parish of Stoke-upon-Trent – 1969

The History of Penkhull with Boothen – 1971

Stoke Old and New – 1977

Fenton the town Arnold Bennet forgot – 1977

Penkhull Remembered Again – 1980

The Royal Manor of Penkhull –  2010

This book is still available price reduced to £15 + p & p