Penkridge (/ˈpɛŋkrɪdʒ/ PENK-rij) is a market town and civil
parish in Staffordshire, England, which since the 17th century has
been an industrial and commercial centre for neighbouring villages and
the agricultural produce of
The wealthiest establishment in
Penkridge in the Middle Ages, its
collegiate church building survived the abolition of the chantries and
is the tallest structure in the town centre. The parish is crossed
towards its eastern border by the
M6 motorway and a separate junction
north of the
M6 toll between the West Midlands and Stoke-on-Trent.
Penkridge has a railway station on the
West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line railway
next to the
Grade I listed
Grade I listed medieval church.
Penkridge Viaduct and the
Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal are to either side of Market
Street and the Old Market Square and are among its landmarks.
5.1 Early settlement
5.2 Medieval Penkridge
5.2.2 The importance of the church
5.2.3 The grip of the forest
5.2.4 Manors and magnates
5.2.6 Fairs, markets and mills
5.3 Reformation and revolution:
Penkridge in Tudor and Stuart Times
5.3.2 The Dudley inheritance
5.3.3 Civil war
5.4 Changing fortunes: Georgian and Victorian Penkridge
5.4.1 Economy and population
5.4.2 Zenith of the Littletons
6 The modern town
8 Notable people
12 Twin towns
13 See also
15 External links
Penkridge is a parish unit within the East Cuttlestone Hundred of
Staffordshire. Its boundaries have varied considerably over the
centuries. The ancient parish of Penkridge, defined in 1551, although
it existed in much the same form throughout the Middle Ages, was made
up of four distinct townships:
Penkridge itself, Coppenhall, Dunston,
and Stretton. As a place with its own institutions of local
government, the parish was also known as
Penkridge became a civil parish in the 1830s and in 1866 was shorn of
the three smaller townships, which became separate parishes. It was
constituted as a parish of four distinct constablewicks: Penkridge,
Levedale, Pillaton, and Whiston. In 1934, the civil parish exchanged
some territory with the surrounding parishes to rationalise the
boundaries, acquiring the whole of the former civil parish of
Kinvaston in the process. The civil parish was the merger of the
following settlements or entirely farmed manors:
The River Penk, from Bull Bridge on the northern edge of the historic
centre. The Roller Mill is visible in the distance: the Penk was long
an important energy source for the town.
Penkridge is in the district of South
Staffordshire in the county of
Staffordshire. It is between Stafford, five miles (8 km) to the
north and Wolverhampton, ten miles south, and lies mostly on the east
bank of the River Penk.
The development of
Penkridge has been closely linked to its
relationship to major routes. The town of
Penkridge lies on the
medieval route between the county towns of
Stafford and Worcester,
which also passed through Wolverhampton. The
Penkridge section became
part of the major stagecoach routes linking London and
Manchester and Liverpool and is now subsumed into the A449 road. Just
to the south, at Gailey, this route crosses the historically still
more important Watling Street, now the A5 road, which linked London to
Chester, Wales, and ultimately Ireland. The town was also bisected by
Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal from 1770. Today Penkridge
is grazed on its eastern side by the M6 motorway, the main route
between London and the north-west of
England and Glasgow.
The popular etymology of the town's name derives it from the River
Penk, which flows through it. It was assumed that since the town could
be said to stand on a ridge by the Penk, it must derive its name from
the river. However, this is to reverse the true derivation. The name
of the town, or something like it, is attested many centuries before
that of the river. The name "Penk" is actually a back-formation
from the name of the town.
The occupying Romans gave their fort in the area the
Pennocrucium. Cameron argues that this, like similar Latinized
Celtic names, was passed by the native British directly, orally in its
Celtic form, to the later
Anglo-Saxon occupiers—not through the
medium of Latin. Thus the name
Pennocrucium attests the origins of
the name Penkridge, but is not its direct origin. In the indigenous
Celtic, the name of the village was almost certainly penn-crug,
meaning "the head (or end) of the ridge", or "chief hill or mound",
and pronounced roughly penkrik. In very early times of Anglian
settlement the inhabitants of the district were known as the
Pencersæte. In 958, a charter uses the form Pencric for the
settlement. This is obviously close to the modern "Penkridge", and
both are closer in pronunciation to the Celtic root than to the
The name might reflect the town's location at the terminus of the long
ridge of land running along the east side of the river. However, this
ridge is not actually very prominent and few visitors would perceive
Penkridge as a hill town. Modern toponymists have become convinced
that the hill in question was more likely a tumulus—prominent in
pre-Roman and Roman times, and perhaps much later. Brewer comments
that "none is evident in the locality". However, Margaret Gelling,
predisposed to find direct evidence for toponyms in the local
landscape, has proposed a precise location for the mound, now
destroyed by ploughing, that gave both the town and, ultimately, the
river their names. This was a tumulus at Rowley Hill Farm, Ordnance
Survey reference GR90251180, approximately 52°42′18″N
2°08′46″W / 52.705°N 2.146°W / 52.705; -2.146, which
was still prominent in the 18th century and still discernible in the
early 20th. It would have directly overlooked the outlying Roman camp,
across the Penk and just north of
Pennocrucium on Watling Street, the
remains of which are clearly visible in satellite photographs.
Certainly, it makes more sense to look for the hill in question in the
immediate vicinity of the ancient settlement than that of the modern
town, which is well to the north of it. The Rowley Hill tumulus is
well documented, and was clearly an extremely important landmark for
Penkridge is part of the
Stafford UK Parliamentary constituency,
currently represented by the Conservative Jeremy Lefroy. However,
Penkridge area is a part of South
Penkridge is covered by a
Non-metropolitan county two-tier system of
The District Council, which forms the lower tier, is South
Staffordshire, based in Codsall.
Penkridge is divided among three
wards for elections to the district council:
Penkridge North East and
Penkridge South East. Before the Local
Government Act 1972 brought about the 1974 reform of local government
England and Wales,
Penkridge was part of
Cannock Rural District.
The upper tier is the non-metropolitan county, colloquially shire
county, of Staffordshire.
Penkridge constitutes a single electoral
division of the county.
All of Penkridge's councillors are currently Conservative.
Main article: History of Penkridge
Early human occupation of the area around
Penkridge has been confirmed
by the presence of a Bronze or
Iron Age barrow at nearby Rowley
Hill. A significant settlement in this vicinity has existed since
pre-Roman times, with its original location being at the intersection
River Penk and what became the Roman military road known as
Watling Street (today's A5 trunk road). This would place it between
Water Eaton and Gailey, about 2.25 miles (3.62 km) SSW of the
modern town. The Roman settlement of
Pennocrucium and earlier
settlements were in the
Penkridge area, but not on the same site as
present town of Penkridge.
The town of
Penkridge dates back at least to the early Middle Ages,
when the area was part of Mercia, although the foundation date is
unknown. King Edgar in 958, described it as a "famous place", so
it was already of importance by then. In the Tudor period, it was
claimed that the founder of the collegiate church of
St. Michael at
Penkridge was King
Eadred (946-55), King Edgar's uncle, which
The importance of the church
Penkridge's church was of central importance to the town from
Anglo-Saxon times and the
Norman conquest did not change this. It was
of a special status.
It was a collegiate church: a church served by a community of priests,
known as a chapter. The members were known as canons. They were not
monks, but secular clergy. In 1086 the
Domesday survey found that most
of the farm land at
Penkridge was held from the king by the nine
priests of St. Michael's, who had six slaves and seven villeins
working for them.
It was a chapel royal – a place set aside by the monarchs for their
own use – generally to pray and to offer mass for their souls. This
made it completely independent of the local
Bishop of Lichfield
Bishop of Lichfield – an
institution called a Royal Peculiar. In 1280
Penkridge even shut its
doors on the Archbishop of Canterbury, when he tried to carry out a
tour of inspection (known as a canonical visitation).
It was organised like a cathedral chapter. This happened during the
12th century, probably during the Anarchy of Stephen's reign. The
reorganised chapter was headed by a Dean. The other canons each
received a particular estate to live off, called a prebend, and were
known as prebendaries.
It was headed by the Archbishop of Dublin from 1226. This was because
in 1215 King John gave to Archbishop Henry of London, one of his most
trusted administrators, the right to appoint the dean of Penkridge. He
made himself dean on the next vacancy, and subsequent archbishops of
Dublin automatically became deans of Penkridge.
The collegiate church was the most important local institution for
most of Penkridge's history: economically powerful and architecturally
dominant. All the people of the parish had to be buried there, at
considerable cost, so it was where the local magnates installed their
memorials. Its area of jurisdiction defined
Penkridge parish, which
was also the main unit of local government until late Victorian times.
The dean and many of the canons were absentees, so they appointed
vicars to act for them locally. The focus of worship was prayer and
masses on behalf of the dead, not care for the living. Two priests
were employed solely to serve in chantries for the monarch and for the
Virgin Mary. By the 16th century, the people of
subscribed to pay a morrow priest to celebrate a daily mass, so that
they could worship.
Pastoral care and preaching were not taken
seriously until the 16th century or later.
The Church of
St. Michael and All Angels
General view of the church from the east.
Exterior view of the western end of the church, showing large
View of the tower, modified in late Perpendicular style in the 16th
East window. Perpendicular in style, it formerly contained much more
The wrought iron chancel gates of Dutch origin, dated 1778. The organ,
formerly in the tower arch, was moved to present position in 1881.
Lavabo in wall of south chancel aisle
Stone pulpit, 1890, part of a substantial restoration and
refurbishment which began in 1881.
The early 16th century tomb alcove of Richard Littleton and Alice
Wynnesbury in the south nave aisle, now used for votive candles.
Originally this part of the church was a Littleton family chapel.
The grip of the forest
Large areas surrounding
Penkridge were placed by the Norman kings
under Forest Law, a savage penal code designed to protect the ecology
and wildlife for the king's enjoyment. These areas were part of the
Royal Forest of Cank or
Cannock Chase and were known as Gailey Hay and
Teddesley Hay. Forest law kept most of south
Staffordshire in an
economic straitjacket. Conflicts between the barons and kings in the
13th century forced a relaxation, starting with the first issue of the
Forest Charter in 1217. So it was in Henry III's reign that Penkridge
began to grow economically and probably in population. Local people
began to create new fields, called assarts, by clearing the trees and
scrub (still a capital crime), and
Penkridge acquired an annual fair
and weekly market.
Manors and magnates
Penkridge was organised on the manorial system. There were a
number of manors within the parish, of varying size and importance,
each with its own lord, who owed feudal service to his own overlord,
but exercised authority over his tenants. A list of the different
medieval manors and estates would include:
Penkridge deanery manor, Congreve, Congreve Prebendal Manor, Drayton,
Gailey, Levedale, Longridge, Lyne Hill or Linhull, Mitton, La More
(later Moor Hall), Otherton, Pillaton, Preston, Rodbaston, Water
Coppenhall or Copehale, Dunston, and Stretton. The
largest was the manor of
Penkridge itself. King John's gift of 1215 to
the Archbishop of Dublin included
Penkridge manor. The Archbishop
decided to divide it, giving about two thirds to his nephew, Andrew de
Blund, and keeping the rest for the deanery. The manor of Penkridge
was passed on through the Blund (later called Blount) family and later
other families of lay landlords.
The Church had large holdings of land. St. Michael's college had not
only the deanery manor but also Preston and the Prebendal
Congreve. The other prebends also held lands, but not as lords of the
manor. Some manors belonged to
Staffordshire monasteries. Burton Abbey
Bickford and Whiston, and also, for a time, Gailey,
which later passed to the nuns of
Black Ladies Priory
Black Ladies Priory at Brewood.
Drayton belonged to the
Augustinian Priory of St. Thomas, near
William Wynnesbury and his wife, from their memorial, now in the floor
of the priest's vestry at St. Michael's church.
Image of Richard Littleton and Alice Wynnesbury, on incised slab of
their recessed table tomb in the south nave aisle, very similar to the
earlier Wynnesbury monument.
Most of the manors were quite small and often their owners were fairly
minor, although some small manors formed part of the wider holdings of
great families. Even the most minor of lords had the right to hold
manorial courts and to discipline their tenants, but a wealthy and
important lord was like a monarch in his own manor. By the late 14th
century the lords of
Penkridge manor had obtained charters giving them
rights to pursue criminals wherever they wished; to inflict the death
penalty; to force tenants to take collective responsibility for
offenders; and to confiscate stray livestock.
Just before 1500, the Littleton family make their first appearance in
Penkridge. Richard Littleton brought Pillaton into the family's
possession through marriage and Pillaton Hall was the Littleton family
seat for about 250 years, the centre of an expanding property empire.
Soon they took on the leases of most of St. Michael's church lands and
established a family chapel in the church – a statement of their
growing importance. They were the most important local representatives
of the landed gentry, a class that was to dominate rural life for
Much of the
Penkridge area was cultivated under the open field system,
although the actual field names are not documented until 16th and 17th
centuries, as they were about to be enclosed. In
Penkridge manor, for
example, there were Clay Field, Prince Field, Manstonshill, Mill
Field, Wood Field, and Lowtherne or Lantern Field, Fyland, Old Field,
and Whotcroft, and also common grazing areas, Stretton Meadow and Hay
Meadow. There are no detailed records of what was grown in
medieval Penkridge. In 1801, when the first record was made, nearly
half was under wheat, with barley, oats, peas, beans, and brassicas
the other major crops – probably similar to the medieval pattern:
farmers grew wheat wherever the land in their scattered strips
supported it, and other crops elsewhere, with cattle on the riverside
meadows and sheep on the heath.
The early medieval cultivators were mainly unfree, forced to work on
the lord's demesne in return for their strips in the open fields. From
the 14th century wage labour replaced the feudal labour system. By the
16th century, most landowners were renting or leasing most of their
land and paying cash for labour to cultivate what remained. In 1535,
for example, the manor of Drayton was worth £9 4s. 8d. annually, and
the lion's share, £5 18s. 2d., came from money rents.
Fairs, markets and mills
Fairs and markets were a vital part of the medieval economy, but a
royal charter was needed for either, so they were highly profitable to
the manors which had the right to hold them. The grant of Penkridge
manor to the archbishop of Dublin included the right to hold an annual
fair. This right was upheld for the Blund family by Edward I in 1278
and by Edward II in 1312. The date varied, but in the Middle Ages
it fell around the end of September and lasted for seven or eight
days. It began as a general fair but developed into a horse fair by
the late 16th century.
Henry III granted Andrew le Blund a weekly market in 1244. This was
challenged by the burgesses of Stafford, who feared competition, but
Penkridge kept its Tuesday market for centuries. After 1500 the market
declined, expired and was revived several times, also changing days
several times. The market place, still so-named but no longer used,
was at the opposite end of the town from the church. The modern market
is held on the livestock auction site close to Bull Bridge.
Mills were another great source of profit to lords of the manor, who
forced their tenants to use them. The
River Penk and a number of
tributary brooks were able to drive mills.
Domesday records mills at
Penkridge at Water Eaton. A century later there were two mills at
Penkridge and one of them was operated by the More family for
centuries, as tenants of the dean. A mill is recorded at Drayton by
1194; at Congreve, Pillaton, and Rodbaston in the 13th century; at
Whiston in the 14th; and at Mitton in the 15th. These were all corn
mills, but in 1345 Water Eaton had a fulling mill, as well as the corn
Reformation and revolution:
Penkridge in Tudor and Stuart Times
The Reformation brought major changes to landownership and social life
at Penkridge. First came the
Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries under
Henry VIII. This swept away Burton Abbey, and its manor of Drayton was
sold in 1538 to the Bishop Of Lichfield, who wanted it for his
nephews. The College of
St. Michael was not threatened at first, as it
was not a monastery, but Edward VI's reign brought a more radical
phase of the Reformation. In 1547 the Abolition of Chantries Act
decreed the end of the chantry churches and their colleges. St.
Michael's was still a thriving institution: a major rebuilding was in
progress. Its estates enriched the dean (Archbishop of Dublin), seven
prebendaries, two chantry canons, an official principal, three vicars
choral, three further vicars, a high deacon, a subdeacon, and a
sacrist. In 1547 its property was assessed at £82 6s. 8d.
annually. All this was swept away in 1548 and the first
Penkridge, Thomas Bolt of Stafford, was appointed on £16 per annum,
with an assistant on £8.
The Dudley inheritance
John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, who briefly held the
overlordship of both
Penkridge manor and the deanery manor, before his
political ambitions led to his execution.
Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke. The Grevilles held the manor of
Penkridge for several generations, but also had substantial holdings
elsewhere in the Midlands.
Tomb of Sir
Edward Littleton (died 1558)
Edward Littleton (died 1558) and his wives, Helen
Swynnerton and Isabel Wood, in St. Michael's. Littleton was quick to
snap up what he could from the wreck of Dudley's empire.
Penkridge now became enmeshed in the meteoric career of John Dudley,
Earl of Warwick, a key figure in Edward VI's regency council. In 1539,
Dudley got control of
Penkridge manor by foreclosing on a debt its
owners, the Willoughby de Broke family, had owed to his father, Edmund
Dudley. Next he grabbed the Deanery
Manor and Tedesley Hay, making him
the most important landowner in the area, although day-to-day
management of the deanery lands stayed with the Littletons, the
lessees. Dudley went on to seize almost absolute power in England, and
taking the title Duke of Northumberland. Edward's early death in 1553
left Dudley high and dry. Edward's older sister, the Catholic Mary,
succeeded but Dudley attempted a coup d'état in favour of Lady Jane
Grey. Mary prevailed and Dudley was arrested and beheaded as a
traitor. His lands were forfeit to the Crown, the extensive estates at
Penkridge among them.
Dudley had the foresight to grant various estates to his relatives. So
his daughter-in-law, Anne Dudley, Countess of Warwick, was able to
keep a lifetime interest in Penkridge, while his wife hung on to
Teddesley Hay until her death. Teddesley was bought by Sir Edward
Littleton in 1555. A new Sir Edward succeeded in 1558 and his vigorous
enclosure policy soon stirred up controversy.
Penkridge manor entered
into a limbo, prolonged by Anne's insanity. The fate of the deanery
manor too was unresolved: it was taken from the Dudleys, but not
restored to the Church, as Mary did not re-establish the chantries. So
both remained with the Crown for a generation, with no decision on
their fate. Not until the 1580s were matters resolved. In 1581 the
college property was sold to speculators and in 1585 it was snapped up
by Sir Edward Littleton. In 1582, Queen Elizabeth promised Penkridge
manor to Sir Fulke Greville, heir to the Willoughby de Brokes, and he
took over 1590.
The Grevilles were powerful regionally and nationally. The Fulke
Greville who inherited
Penkridge in 1606 was a poet and statesman. He
served both Elizabeth and James I, who gave him
Warwick Castle as a
seat and elevated him to the peerage as the 1st Baron Brooke. In 1628
he was murdered by a servant. As he was unmarried and childless, he
had adopted his younger cousin Robert as his son and heir to both the
title and the great estates in
Staffordshire and Warwickshire. Robert
was a leading parliamentarian and a Puritan, who promoted emigration
to America. When the
English Civil War
English Civil War broke out, he took command of a
parliamentary army in central
England and was killed during the siege
Lichfield Cathedral in 1643. He was succeeded by Francis Greville,
3rd Baron Brooke.
The Littletons were purely local landowners and instinctively
loyalist. Sir Edward Littleton was made a
Baronet by Charles I on 28
June 1627 and was expelled from the House of Commons in 1644 for his
royalist sympathies. In May 1645, royalist troops quartered in
Penkridge were expelled by small parliamentary force after a brief
skirmish. Littleton's estates were sequestrated but he was able to
recover them on payment of £1347. The Littletons' holdings were thus
preserved and they found themselves in favour again after the
restoration of Charles II in 1660. Despite the revolutionary turmoil,
the real situation in
Penkridge was little changed.
An anomaly surviving from before the Reformation was the peculiar
jurisdiction of St. Michael's. Although the college was long gone, its
privileges survived and were vested in the Littletons, owners of the
deanery manor. They appointed vicars and kept bishops at bay, until
the royal peculiar was ended in 1858.
Changing fortunes: Georgian and Victorian Penkridge
Penkridge, Staffordshire: Population 1801-1961
Bridge 88 on the
Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, north-west of
Penkridge, Staffordshire: occupational orders of adult males, 1881.
From data edited by Matthew Woollard (History Data Service, UK Data
Archive, University of Essex).
The Roller Mill, used for rolling iron in the early 19th century. Now
stranded by alterations to the course of the river, it has been
restored to house a local resource centre for Age UK.
Penkridge, Staffordshire: occupational categories of adult males,
1831. From data transcribed by David Allan Gatley (School of Social
Sciences, University of Staffordshire).
The 1st Baron Hatherton, by Sir George Hayter.
Economy and population
In 1666, the township of
Penkridge had 212 households and the rest of
the parish about a hundred, giving a total population of perhaps
1200 to 1500. By the first census, in 1801, it was 2,275. It rose
to a peak of 3316 in 1851. A fall thereafter is mainly the result of
the parish being reduced in size by the loss of Coppenhall, Stretton
Penkridge itself seems to have had a fairly stable
population for the century from 1851 to 1951: a decline relative to
the country as a whole, but not a collapse.
From the 1660s the pace of enclosure quickened, with all of the manors
being divided into small farms, usually with the cultivators' consent,
and these aggregated gradually into larger units. The second half of
the 19th century, and especially the last quarter, were hard times for
agriculture, with the repeal of the
Corn Laws in 1846 and the Long
Depression from about 1873. The 1831 census found that farmers and
agricultural labourers accounted about 60% of the total adult male
workforce. Next came shop keepers and artisans, showing that
Penkridge remained a small but important commercial centre, although
the market had gone. In 1881 agriculture employed about 48% of the
working men: a considerable drop. Of the women whose employment is
known, 150, the vast majority, were in domestic service. –
probably mainly with the local gentry. The hospitality industry was
quite important, with 40 men working in food and lodging and 15
working with carriages and horses – reflecting the continuing
importance of the inns on a major route. The diversity of trades is
marked. No less than 43 – 25 women and 18 men – were involved in
dress-making, and there were quarrymen, traders, and many others.
However, professionals are numbered at only 14.
Penkridge owed much to its transport links, which steadily improved.
The main Stafford–
Wolverhampton route, now the
A449 road was
turnpiked under an Act of 1760. Bull Bridge, carrying the road over
the Penk, was rebuilt in 1796 and widened in 1822. The improved road
attracted more traffic: by 1818 there were stops by coaches on the
London – Manchester,
Birmingham – Manchester and
Liverpool routes. The
Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, opened
in 1772, running straight through the parish and the township from
north to south, with wharves at Spread Eagle (later called Gailey) and
at Penkridge. In 1837, the Grand Junction Railway was opened. It cut
Penkridge on its west side, where
Penkridge station was built,
and was carried over the
River Penk by the large
Penkridge Viaduct. It
began with two trains daily in each direction, to
Heavy industry expanded in the 18th century, when a forge at Congreve
was turning out 120 tons of iron a year, and in the 1820s the mill
below Bull Bridge was used for rolling iron. However, this industry
tailed off as the
Black Country ironworks outstripped it. Extraction
of building materials grew in Victorian times, with the Littletons
operating quarries at Wolgarston, Wood Bank, and Quarry Heath, as
well as a sand pit at Hungry Hill, Teddesley, and a brickyard in
Zenith of the Littletons
Main article: Edward Littleton, 1st Baron Hatherton
The fortunes of the town and the Littletons remained intertwined. Sir
Edward Littleton, the fourth baronet, bought
Penkridge manor from the
Earl of Warwick in 1749, completing his family's dominance of the
area. Soon after he built Teddesley Hall, a much more impressive seat
for the family. He survived until 1812, although, his wife died
childless in 1781. He adopted his great-nephew, Edward Walhouse, as
his heir. Walhouse took the name Littleton and took over the Littleton
estates, although not the Littleton baronetcy. He achieved far greater
eminence as a politician than any other member of the family, serving
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Chief Secretary for Ireland under the Whig Prime Minister Grey in
1833-35. He was elevated to the peerage as Baron Hatherton, a title
which remains with the head of the Littleton family to the present,
and became an active member of the House of Lords.
Hatherton resided at Teddesley, where he established a free
agricultural college and farmed 1,700 acres (688 ha)
successfully. He strongly promoted education in the area, paying for a
National School in
Penkridge and another at Levedale, and for clothing
for some of the school children. However, his lifetime saw a decisive
shift in the family's interests. As heir to both the Walhouse family
fortune and the Littleton estates, he owned great estates around
Penkridge and mineral holdings and much residential property in the
Walsall areas. He owned coal mines at Great Wyrley,
Bloxwich and Walsall; limestone quarries and brickyards in Walsall
that were used to build much of the town; hundreds of residential and
commercial properties; gravel and sand pits, stone quarries in many
places. Unlike Penkridge,
Walsall were boom towns of the
Victorian era, powered by the most modern and profitable industries of
the age. The Littletons played a leading part in this phase of the
Industrial Revolution and made large profits from it, and this tilted
their attention increasingly away from their landed estates.
The modern town
Penkridge in the 20th and 21st centuries has remained a small market
town while evolving into a residential centre, but its ties to the
land were weakened and those to the landed gentry broken. Residential
development began even in Victorian times, with the middle-class
villas of the St. Michael's Road area, close to the railway. The
Wolverhampton road was greatly improved between the
wars, reshaping both
Penkridge and Gailey, paving the way for the
great boom in private cars and suburbanization after World War II.
Housing by the canal at Penkridge
The war itself prepared the way for changes. Teddesley Hall, no longer
the Littleton's family home since 1930, was used to house troops and
prisoners of war. The old common lands between the Penk and the
Cannock Road were used as a military camp during the war years. This
eased their subsequent development as a large housing estate, greatly
enlarging the size and population of
Penkridge in the 1950s and 1960s.
Between 1951 and 1961 the population grew from 2,518 to 3,383 – a
rise of over 34% in just ten years.
In 1919, the 3rd Lord Hatherton had begun disinvestment in land, often
selling farms to their tenants. Over 2,000 acres (8 km2) went in
Penkridge area, including land in the Deanery Manor, Congreve,
Lower Drayton, Upper Drayton, Gailey,
Levedale and Longridge. In
1953 the 4th Lord Hatherton sold off nearly 4,000 acres (16 km2),
including Teddesley Hall, which was demolished within a year.
Under the motorway near Penkridge
M6 motorway came around
Stafford in 1962 and connected with the M1
motorway in 1971, giving the town vastly improved communications. The
long-awaited M54 motorway, shadowing the ancient Watling Street,
opened in 1983, greatly improving regional links.
Penkridge was now
very favourably placed on a truly national motorway network. Since the
arrival of the M6, the population has more than doubled, as new houses
have spread along all the roads, particularly north and south along
Penkridge has remained a substantial commercial and shopping centre.
The major supermarket chains have not been allowed to open stores in
the town and its only large store is a Co-operative supermarket.
Independent shops, cafés, inns and services occupy the area between
the old market place to the east and Stone Cross on the A449 to the
west. The area between Pinfold Lane and the river, long the site of
livestock sales, has emerged as a new market place, attracting large
numbers of visitors to
Penkridge on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Penkridge's local market has been revived and is held on Wednesdays
and Saturdays, hosting up to 100 stalls. There is also an antiques
market every Thursday. The substantial tower of the Grade I listed
St. Michael and All Angels on the western edge of town,
parts of which date back to the early thirteenth century, is visible
even to passing road and rail travelers. A smaller Methodist church is
on the largest road (the A449) route through the town, and there are
three short streets of buildings dating from the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries, from the railway station eastward.
its own historic stocks and cells remain in the town centre.
The town has several pubs, and there are also numerous sports clubs in
Penkridge including cricket, football, rugby union and tennis clubs.
On the last Friday in November, for one night, the village centre used
to close to traffic to allow a Victorian Night and Christmas Market to
take place, in 2010 this event moved to the Market site where it has
expanded to include over 70 stalls and a funfair.
Sir Edward Littleton, 1st Baronet
Sir Edward Littleton, 1st Baronet (c.1599 – c.1657) a 17th-century
Baronet and politician from the extended Lyttelton family
Richard Hurd (1720–1808) was an English divine  and writer, and
Bishop of Worcester
Alethea Lewis (1749-1827) was an English novelist, she also used the
pseudonym Eugenia de Acton. Her subject-matter centred on her profound
Ernest J. Chambers (1862-1925) was a Canadian militia officer, 
journalist, author, and civil servant. Emigrated aged 8.
George Edalji (1876 in
Penkridge – 1953) a Parsi English solicitor
 who served three years' hard labour after being convicted on a
charge of injuring a pony. He was pardoned after a campaign in which
Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle took a prominent role.
Rebekah Staton (born 1981) is an English actress,  best known for
Don't Tell The Bride and appearing as Della in Raised by
Adam Legzdins (born 1986 in Penkridge) is an English professional
footballer  and goalkeeper, made over 150 professional appearances
so far, currently plays for
Birmingham City F.C.
Sugarthief (formed 2015) are an Indie-rock band consisting of Jack and
Jordi James (brothers), and school friends Luke Owen and Reece
In terms of television,
Penkridge is served by
BBC Midlands Today
BBC Midlands Today and
ITV Central, both of which are based in Birmingham. Many residents in
Penkridge receive their signals from the Sutton Coldfield transmitting
station, but some use The Wrekin transmitting station, near Telford,
to obtain a watchable picture.
Local radio is covered by Signal 1, mainly on 96.9 FM from the Pye
Green BT Tower, visible from most of Penkridge. The town is also
covered by Free Radio Shropshire and
Black Country from Oldbury, in
the West Midlands, and can receive the West Midland regional stations,
like Heart and Smooth, very satisfactory.
The local newspapers are the Express and Star,
Cannock Chronicle and
Penkridge lies on the A449 and is midway between junctions 12 and 13
of the M6 motorway. It is served by National Express long-distance
coaches, and also by local buses provided by National Express West
Midlands and Arriva.
Penkridge is served by
Penkridge railway station
on the West Coast Main Line, and can also be accessed by the
Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Otherton Airfield is in
Penkridge, it is the home of
Staffordshire Aero club.
Penkridge has three First Schools (Marshbrook, St Michael's and
Princefield), one middle school (
Penkridge Middle School) and one high
school (Wolgarston, recently granted Specialist Technology College
status). The High School has its own swimming pool and the council-run
leisure centre is on the same site. Villages and hamlets on the
Penkridge also use the Middle and High schools. There are
several pre-school nurseries in the town, including Turtle's Nursery,
based in the former police station.
Ablon-sur-Seine in France.
Penkridge weather station
^ "ONS Neighbourhood Statistics Penkridge". Retrieved 30 October
^ White, William (1851) History, Gazetteer and Directory of
Penkridge Borough at A Vision of Britain Through Time.
County History: Staffordshire: Volume 5, East Cuttlestone
Penkridge – Introduction and manors.
^ a b Ayto, John & Crofton, Ian (2005) Brewer's Britain and
Ireland. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson ISBN 0-304-35385-X, p.
^ Itinerarium Antonini Augusti et Hierosolymitarum, ediderunt G.
Parthey et M. Pinder. Berlin (Berolini: Impensis Friderici Nicolai),
1848 (Iter Britannarium, Iter II, "Pennocrucio")
^ Cameron, Kenneth (1996) English Place Names. London: Batsford
ISBN 0-7134-7378-9, p.33.
^ The Electronic Sawyer: Online Catalogue of
^ Gelling, Margaret (1984) Place-Names in the Landscape. London: J. M.
Dent ISBN 0-460-86086-0, p. 138
County History of Staffordshire, pp.192-3, 376
^ The Electronic Sawyer: Online Catalogue of
S667 Edgar says he is in loco famoso qui dicitur Pencric.
County History: Staffordshire: Volume 3, 34: The College of
St. Michael, Penkridge.
^ a b c VCH: Staffordshire: Volume 3: 34
^ a b VCH Staffordshire: Volume 5:17 – Penkridge: Economic history,
^ a b VCH: Staffordshire: Volume 5:16.s.2. Manors
^ VCH:Staffordshire: Volume 5:17.s.5 Churches
^ a b VCH Staffordshire:Volume 5:17 – Penkridge: Economic history,
^ VCH Staffordshire: Volume 5:17 – Penkridge: Economic history, s.2.
^ VCH Staffordshire: Volume 5:17 – Penkridge: Economic history, s.5.
^ a b VCH: Staffordshire: Volume 5:16.s.1.
^ a b Penkridge: Total Population at A Vision of Britain Through time
Penkridge 1831 Occupational Categories at A Vision of Britain
through Time, transcribed by David Allan Gatley (School of Social
Sciences, University of Staffordshire).
Penkridge 1881 Occupational Orders at A Vision of Britain through
Time, edited by Matthew Woollard (History Data Service, UK Data
Archive, University of Essex).
^ The National Archives, Estate D260/M/E
^ a b VCH Staffordshire: Volume 5: 23: s.2: The Hay
^ VCH: Staffordshire: Volume 5:16.s.1.
^ VCH: Staffordshire: Volume 5:16.s.2 – Manors
^ .VCH: Staffordshire: Volume 5:16.s.1.
^ The History of Parliament Trust, LITTLETON, Sir Edward I
(c.1548-1610) retrieved December 2017
^ 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13, Hurd, Richard retrieved
^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XV (1921-1930) CHAMBERS,
ERNEST JOHN retrieved December 2017
^ The Plebeian website, Conan Doyle and the Parson’s son: The George
Edalji Case retrieved December 2017
^ IMDb Database retrieved December 2017
^ SoccerBase Database retrieved December 2017
^ "Childcare in Penkridge". 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media
Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Penkridge.
Penkridge Town Community Website
St Michael and All Angels church, Penkridge
Cricket Club, Staffordshire
Penkridge Market Website
Penkridge Roundtable Website
Penkridge Beer Festival Website
Historic England. "
Penkridge Church (271740)". Images of
Ceremonial county of Staffordshire
Boroughs or districts
Burton upon Trent
See also: List of civil parishes in Staffordshire
Birmingham & Fazeley
Staffs & Worcestershire
Trent & Mersey
Wyrley & Essington
Grade I buildings
Grade II* buildings
Civil parishes of South Staffordshire
Staffordshire District Council
Acton Trussell, Bednall & Teddesley Hay
Blymhill and Weston under Lizard
Brewood and Coven
Lapley, Stretton and Wheaton Aston
Pattingham and Patshull