Arthur Phipps – Staffordshire County Records – Appeal against war service WW1

Article submitted by Chris Jones

My great grandfather had told his grandchildren why he objected to going to the war but is only these records found two years ago that partially confirmed his story……..

I was fortunate to find details of my great grandfather (Arthur William Phipps) in the tribunal appeals held at Staffordshire Archives. Our family knew about the story, but the records we were fortunate to find now prove it.

About Arthur – his birth, early life and marriage

Arthur was born in 1883 at Hopwas, the youngest son of George and Ellen Phipps. His father was a gardener on the Peel estates (now Drayton Manor Park and Zoo).

Arthur grew up in the village and attended the village school before going to work with his older brothers at the local paper mill – Alders. In 1906 he met and married Ethel Ball  who came from a pottery family and lived in the village. They moved into a small terraced house in Hints Lane – which he lived for the rest of his life – and they had three children (Ethel, Mabel and George) between 1907 and 1910. Sadly within a week of giving birth to George, Ethel passed away from blood poisoning.

Arthur took a housekeeper to help with the children and moved work to be with his father on the Peel estates between Fazeley and Hopwas working in the gardens and in woodlands.

The war years

At the outbreak of war Arthur carried on working and sadly his youngest sister – Jessie – lost her husband – H Cornwell in November 14 on the western front leaving her with 4 young children.

The documents show that in 1916 Arthur was assessed  and called to join the army but requested exemption due to the nature of his work and being the last fit man on the forestry part of the team.

According to Arthur he also objected to going as at that time he was responsible for his two girls – his son by now being brought up by a sister in Birmingham.

Arthur succeed in gaining an exemption twice according to the documents and local newspaper reports we have seen but eventually his exemption was dismissed. He stated later that he agreed to join up on condition he was not put in the front line as he argued the state would have to pay to bring up his children if he did not return.

It was agreed for him to join the Army Service Corps and we believe he worked in what would now be called logistics in Palestine and then moving to Salonika in Greece towards the end of the war. He told family that he didn’t enjoy his war experience and was somewhat resentful that he had been called up. At one point we know he got in a lot of trouble trying to catch local Palestinians who were stealing the food from the stores using rather zealous methods!

In 1918 Arthur’s nephew was killed in France serving with a Yorkshire regiment after transferring from the North Staffords along with two other men he knew pre-war from local farming families.

Post war

On demob he returned to Hopwas and worked on the Peel estates well into the 1930s, getting to know the family well. After they sold the estate Arthur moved to work on local farms and became a well-known local character frequenting the local Chequers Public House every night – even being given a certificate by the brewery – after he had been drinking there since his childhood! His nickname was ‘Chick’ though we don’t know why!

In later years one of his sisters moved in with him and he eventually passed away in 1971. His ashes are in his sister’s grave at Hopwas – his wife being buried in the churchyard beside his parents near to many other members of his family.

His nephew and brother-in-law are listed on the war memorial alongside one of the Peel sons who Arthur would have known pre-war.

The photos of Arthur show him in his garden in Hints Lane – post war – about 1930 and later in  life on the day of being given the award by Courage Brewery.

Images of the following Military Appeal Tribunal Records, illustrated in the above article, are held at Staffordshire Record Office, and published courtesy of Staffordshire Archives and Heritage:

C/C/M/2/14b/1095 – papers relating to Arthur Phipps
C/C/M/21/16b/1295 – papers relating to Arthur Phipps

Note on the Military Appeal Tribunal Records

The following text is an extract from Staffordshire Newsroom. To read more click on the link which follows it:

Stories of conscientious objectors and how bakers, butchers and farmworkers fought conscription are amongst a rare collection of Military Appeal Tribunal records being published for the first time.

Conscription was first used by the armed forces in 1916 and those who sought exemption were brought in front of Military tribunals to make their case. After the war, the Ministry of Health ordered that all tribunal records be destroyed, but an oversight meant Staffordshire’s collection survived.

Now, exactly one hundred years later, Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Archive and Heritage Service have published this rare collection, making them available online.
It’s believed the tribunals were held in County Buildings in Stafford and the records were hidden away there only to be discovered many decades later.

Over 20,000 individual cases for the Local and Appeal Tribunals reveal the lives of the men called up to service and the stresses and strain it had on work and family life. Reasons provided by applicants are varied, including moral grounds, medical, family and on economic grounds.

People can search the records online at and request copies of the documents.







Feedback from Tame Valley Wetlands Community Meeting 20/03/17 

In March TDCS Committee member Ruth Robinson attended a Tame Valley Wetlands Community Meeting held at Water Orton. We are grateful for Ruth’s report on the meeting which brings organisations and individuals who are interested in nature and our local heritage and environment and we hope that you enjoy reading about her experiences.

This free event was aimed to bring together the communities of the Tame Valley Wetlands. It was an opportunity for local groups or individuals with an interest in access to the countryside, heritage or the environment, to network and share best practice, meet similar groups, share tips and ideas, and be inspired. It was also a chance to find out about the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership and get involved.

The day started with a talk :The Tame Valley Wetlands, where we are now and visions for the future followed by the health  and social benefits of nature and heritage conservation work. These are the basic points :

The Tame Valley Wetlands, spanning from Birmingham through rural North Warwickshire and Tamworth, is a landscape of real importance for society and nature, and one which is under substantial pressure.

The canal network and the River Tame and its floodplain form the largest series of interconnected wetlands in the Midlands – this connectivity and availability of open space is a vital asset for both people and wildlife.

The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership, led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and supported by a variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils, formed over 10 years ago in recognition of the importance of this landscape, with the vision ‘to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all’.

Over the last 2 years alone, thanks largely to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award, Environment Agency and other partners, the Partnership has invested just over £1 million towards realising this vision through the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Work has involved restoring the floodplain and improving the river in Kingsbury and Tamworth by re-naturalising the channel and reinstating an historic river island; restoring the Drayton Turret Footbridge – an iconic 200 year old Grade II listed structure on the canal, formerly owned by Sir Robert Peel; and enhancing hundreds of metres of hedgerow for the benefit of wildlife.

The Tame Valley Wetlands not only provide a vital role in reducing flooding, improving water quality and providing a home for wildlife; they are also special places for people to relax and enjoy, improving health and wellbeing. A key aim of the Scheme is to encourage responsible and improved access to the countryside and nature reserves for people living in Tamworth, Kingsbury, Coleshill, Castle Vale, Water Orton and nearby villages.

TameFest – a large free event showcasing the Tame Valley Wetlands – which took  place in Tamworth Castle Pleasure Grounds on Saturday 27th May.

After these talks there was then a chance to join in on two workshops. Firstly I joined a workshop where we talked about funding opportunities. It was hosted by two ladies from WARWICKSHIRE COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY ACTION ( which was formed in 2008 through the merger of separate ‘Councils for Voluntary Service’ and ‘Volunteer Centres’ to provide a single point of access for everyone who wants to engage in community and voluntary action. They have a collective history of over 200 years of supporting local communities to thrive. Although they are based in Warwickshire they said that they would be quite happy to talk to anyone outside their area who was linked to helping the Tame Valley Community.

The second workshop I attended was called ‘Telling The Tale of the Tame’. On the website they are asking for help to build a picture of the local history of the Tame Valley Wetlands by uploading your stories, photographs and memories to the Historypin website.

Historypin is a digital archive of historical photos, videos, audio recordings and personal recollections. Users are able to use the location and date of their content to “pin” it to Google Maps.  On the website you use the drop down tag : Discover : then History and then finally Historypin (located at the very bottom of the page). Anyone can add material but we were warned to be careful of copyrights on pictures but your own are ok to include. They are looking for any information that people may have whether it is concerning mining, the wars, people history ( who was where and where did people go) , the waterways or just memories.

There was then time for a short closing talk which brought the end to a very enjoyable and informative day !!

Images in this blog post, attributed to Tina Williams, are as follows: Tame Valley Wetlands at Middleton Lakes (RSPB site), Lake and wetlands at Kingsbury Water Park, Tame Valley Wetlands at Middleton Lakes (RSPB site) and Kingsbury Hall.


King Edward IV and a Tanner of Tamworth – A Medieval Ballad


Tamworth and Drayton Bassett are both immortalised in the medieval ballad King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth. The earliest surviving publication of this ballad dates from the sixteenth century.

The ballad, like  others which survive, is important in painting a picture of our history, folklore, cultural identity and morals, as well as providing examples of how our ancestors entertained each other.

This post  briefly summarises the history and form of the ballad before it focuses on and assesses the tale of King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth. Two excerpts from the ballad are included to give a flavour of the work, Finally a list of references used as material for the post are cited to act as a starting point for anyone who wishes to carry out further research:

History and Form of the Ballad

Ballads are fairly short narrative poems usually in quatrains (four-line stanzas) rhyming abcb. The website of the Victoria and Albert Museum cites King Edward IV and a Tanner of Tamworth as one if their examples of a stanza in ballad style:

In summer time, when leaves grew green,
and birds were singing on every tree,
King Edward would a-hunting ride
some past
ime for to see

The word ballad derives its name from medieval French dance songs or “ballares” (L: ballare, to dance), from which ‘ballet’ is also derived, as did the alternative rival form that became the French ballade. As a narrative song, their theme and function may originate from Scandinavian and Germanic traditions of storytelling that can be seen in poems such as Beowulf.

King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth

The theme of mistaken identity

King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth is an example of a medieval ballad where a man of high status (in this case a king) entertains himself at the expense of a local man whom he encounters whilst out hunting with his courtiers. The gentleman concerned is blissfully unaware of the identity of king and not only misleads him but is extremely impolite to him. Fortunately the king, who is entertained by their meeting, rewards him handsomely rather than punishes him for his insolence.

Tales of mistaken identity were a popular theme in ballads, folklore and poems of the time and chance meetings between king and commoner were a recurring theme in tales of Robin Hood.

The ballad was first found in the Child Ballad collection, number 273 and was licensed in 1564. Although surviving records indicate that it was first written down in 16th century, it is likely that it was from a much earlier oral tradition (Edward IV was the King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483).  A number of different versions of the ballad also exist outside the Child collection.

A Summary of the Ballad, with Excerpts

The ballad is a lengthy one and the summary below contains two excerpts, from the beginning and the end of the work.  Please note: No specific tune is listed on any of the ballads and it may have been sung to the tune, “In Summer time,” which, again, was also often set to Robin Hood ballads:

King Edward, while hunting, espies a tanner riding a mare with a cowhide for a saddle. He tells his men to stay back and goes to ask directions to the town of Drayton Bassett. The tanner offers wrong directions, but Edward knows them to be wrong;

IN summer time, when leaves grow greene,
And blossoms bedecke the tree,
King Edward wolde a hunting ryde,
Some pastime for to see.

With hawke and hounde he made him bowne,
With horne, and eke with bowe;
To Drayton Basset he tooke his waye,
With all his lordes a rowe.

And he had ridden ore dale and downe
By eight of clocke in the day,
When he was ware of a bold tannèr,
Come ryding along the waye.

A fayre russet coat the tanner had on
Fast buttoned under his chin,
And under him a good cow-hide,
And a mare of four shilling.[ 3]

“Nowe stand you still, my good lordes all,
Under the grene wood spraye;
And I will wend to yonder fellowe,
To weet what he will saye.

“God speede, God speede thee,” said our king.
“Thou art welcome,” Sir, sayd hee.
“The readyest waye to Drayton Basset
I praye thee to shewe to mee.”

“To Drayton Basset woldst thou goe,
Fro the place where thou dost stand?
The next payre of gallowes thou comest unto,
Turne in upon thy right hand.”

“That is an unreadye waye,” sayd our king,
“Thou doest but jest, I see
Nowe shewe me out the nearest waye,
And I pray thee wend with mee.”…

Edward then invites the tanner to dine with him in Drayton Bassett. The tanner responds that he has no need of charity; he has more pounds in his purse than the stranger has pence in his. Furthermore, he suspects the stranger of having stolen the lordly raiment he is wearing.

Edward asks the tanner for news. The tanner replies that he has heard nothing save balladthat cowhides are in great demand. Edward then asks to switch horses with the tanner. The tanner replies that he’ll do the trade but only for a gold noble (80d). Edward, amused, gives him twenty groats (80d), which raises the tanner’s opinion of him a bit. The tanner hands over his mare, throws the cowhide over the king’s gilt saddle, and tries to ride home; but the cowhide spooks the king’s steed and it throws the tanner onto the ground.

The tanner indignantly demands his mare back. Edward, laughing, replies that he’ll do the trade but only for a gold noble. The tanner graciously hands Edward not only his original twenty groats but also twenty more, and invites him to share a drink.

Edward then summons his hunting party from over the hill. The tanner first takes them for a band of outlaws, and then (when he realizes Edward’s true identity) trembles in fear of royal punishment; but Edward instead thanks the tanner for his entertainment and for his hospitality, and bestows on him Plumpton Park with its three tenements, worth 300 pounds a year. The tanner, not to be outdone, tells Edward that if the king should ever visit his little shop in Tamworth, he can have his shoes re-leathered for free.

“A coller, a coller,” the tanner he sayd,
“I trowe it will breed sorrowe:
After a coller cometh a halter,
I trow I shall be hang’d to-morrowe.”

“Be not afraid, tanner,” said our king
“I tell thee, so mought I thee,
Lo here I make thee the best esquire
That is in the North countrie.[ 6]

“For Plumpton-parke I will give thee,
With tenements faire beside
‘Tis worth three hundred markes by the yeare,
To maintaine thy good cowe-hide.”

“Gramercye, my liege,” the tanner replyd,
“For the favour thou hast me showne;
If ever thou comest to merry Tamworth,
Neates leather shall clout thy shoen.”

References and Sources of Further Information

The ballad text is quoted from

Visit the site to  read the ballad in full and to learn about the source material.

To hear a reading of the ballad recorded by Tamworth’s Shoebox Theatre click here.

Images courtesy of Project Gutenberg, where you can read the ballad, and many others in A Book of Old Ballads, selected and with an introduction, by Beverley Nicholls: EDWARD IV AND THE TANNER OF TAMWORTH

Post written by Tina Williams February 2017















Heritage Open Day September 11th, 2016

TDCS was in Tamworth Town Hall for the second year running on Heritage Open Day on 11th September, 2016, and our stall was kept busy as hundreds of visitors of all ages called in. It was good to see the Mayor in full regalia welcoming people into the Mayor’s Parlour. Thanks also to our friends the Green Badge Tourist Guides who did sterling work around the town centre publicising the HOD attractions, assisting visitors, and welcoming people into the Town Hall.  We had a lovely time.

Here are some scenes from the day.  Unless stated otherwise all photographs are by S. Biggs.

tgtg-hod-2016-09-11-001“Thomas Guy” makes an appearance at histdcs-hod-2016-09-11-sb_0960 Almshouses, posing proudly below his coat of arms (photo by D. Biggs).  TDCS would like to see a statue of our town’s great benefactor Mr. Guy erected in the town. On the right: Blooming marvellous!  The Castle Grounds show why Tamworth has won Gold in the Small Cities category of the Heart of England in  Bloom competition for ten consecutive years. Well done to all concerned.

tdcs-hod-2016-09-11-sb_0983aThe “Mediaeval Grave-diggers” literally worship The Worshipful The Mayor of Tamworth, and the Mayoress.  His Worship looks  bemused!

Below:  Back to front! Shouldn’t Bibbledy Bob the policeman be chasing the Convict?  If only Sir Robert Peel’s statue could talk!


Thanks for the memories. TDCS members Jill Wood, Kay Green, and Michael Green are fascinated by what was happening in the  town fifty years ago, revealed in a 1966 volume of the Tamworth Herald on show in the Town Hall.


The scenes of Old Tamworth on our stall captivated many visitors.


Hams Hall ~ Relics of Past Times


Two of our TDCS committee members attended a First Aid course in August 2016, held at the offices of the Tame Valley Wetlands Project at the Hams Hall Environmental Centre, close to Lea Marston in North Warwickshire.

This centre now lies within the busy Hams Hall Distribution Park, but when it was set up it was in the grounds of the Hams Hall Power Station which for most of the Twentieth Century dominated the local skyline with its massive cooling towers and employed many residents of Tamworth and District.  The centre was established within the walled garden of the former mansion of Hams Hall, once home to the celebrated politician and benefactor Charles Bowyer Adderley, 1st Baron Norton (1814 – 1905).

One of our attendees took the opportunity to capture for us some images of this tranquil spot hidden away amidst the bustling Distribution Park, and with its poignant relics of past times.

(Photos: David Biggs)

Rural heritage: Historic Lea Ford Cottage (featured in the main photo above) was relocated to the walled garden in 1977, but sadly is currently unused.








The garden walls are the only reminder that Lord Norton’s stately mansion of Hams Hall once stood here.








The plaque takes us back to the long-gone days of Hams Hall Power Station.  The oak tree in contrast still thrives.








The Environmental Studies Centre pond provides a lovely focal point.


If you have any memories of the site in its various incarnations we would love to hear from you.


Fond Memories of Steam

This article was kindly submitted by Civic Society member Michael Green. It provides a fascinating insight not only into steam locomotives but their impact on the local landscape and the excitement that their appearance would engender amongst many of the town’s  local inhabitants.


The recent visit to Statfold Barn Railway with members and friends of the Society was the third I have made, and the magic rather than diminishing with each just increases. Quite rightly, it has been described as a treasure on our doorstep and, thankfully, it is not a hidden one due to the kindness of Graham Lee who arranges open days and allows private visits such as that from the Society.

The Society is justly proud of the work done there to rescue and preserve our heritage and, of course, it is a living museum with the opportunity to travel on a private railway pulled by a steam engine. It was while travelling behind Alpha on the visit that I was again vividly reminded of a place in Tamworth famously associated in times past with steam engines too.

The place and an important part of my Tamworth heritage was an insignificant piece of land lying between the low and high levels to the south east of the station and now occupied by a mobile home park. In the 1950s it was affectionately referred to as the Stationfields and, at that time, was a place of pilgrimage for trainspotters from throughout the Midlands and elsewhere, its attraction being the position which gave a view of the wide variety of steam engines both on the high and low levels.

On Saturdays and during school holidays it was necessary to have arrived and picked your spot before the double headed ten to ten from Birmingham arrived disgorging droves of “Brummies” as we called them. It was 1/4½d (about 7p) for a child return. The best place to set up for the day was roughly halfway between the bridges under the low and high levels. It was vital to be with a friend or in a group since, if trains were signalled both ways on either level, someone would have to go under the appropriate bridge in case trains crossed so that the one on the far side could be “spotted”!

It would be easy to think that trainspotting was the preserve of boys but this was not the case. While in the minority, girls were also to be found amongst the trainspotters. Unbeknown to me at the time, my future wife was one of them!

FMOS2On the low level, there were two “up” lines to London and two “down” lines to the North West and Scotland. The trainspotters developed their own special names and expressions. Sometimes nicknames were used so the signals on the two up lines were nicknamed “Baby (pronounced Babby) Clangers” on the slow line and “Daddy Clangers” on the fast or main one. While there were only two down lines there were, in fact, three signals because of the link from the fast to the slow or local one and these were called “Main” “Main to Local” and “Local”. A signal was “pegged” when it went up and the accompanying shout would indicate which it was. As soon as the engine was in view there was a further shout of “sighted” and then the cry of “Scot” or whatever class of engine it was when it could be identified. Of the two levels the low level was undoubtedly the premier one with its famous expresses like the Royal Scot (London–Glasgow), Irish Mail (London-Holyhead)FMOS3 and Mancunian (London-Manchester), drawn by engines from the upper echelons of the locomotive hierarchy, each class of which had its own special name (the Coronations were called “Semis”, the Princess Royals “Prinnies”, the Royal Scots “Scots”, the Jubilees “Jubes” and the Patriots “Pats”).

“Local” and “Baby Clangers” were on the lines used by local stopping trains and goods traffic. That did not necessarily mean that these lines were unimportant! Almost unnoticed a pair of engines would creep up to “Local” and remain there for what seemed an eternity. One could see that the second engine was a Britannia class or “Brit” on its way to Crewe works for overhaul. Experience told you that it would be from the Eastern region. Excitement mounted as one waited for “Local” to go up to see which one it was! The other slow line could also provide excitement. The nine o’clock passenger train from Tamworth to London was sometimes pulled by an engine from a northern shed overhauled at Crewe which one would not usually see. It was some years after I had finally finished trainspotting that I “copped” my last Scot, The Green Howards (46133), on one of these.

The high level was largely the domain of the work horses of the region and were mainly the 3F 0-6-0s known as “Duck 6s” and the Stainer 8F 2-8-0s called “Consols” (I don’t know why) pulling differing numbers of wagons in those days principally filled with coal.

If you were a regular and dedicated trainspotter at the Stationfields you could “cop” all the “Pats”, “Prinnies” and “Semis” and a lot of the “Jubes”. You could possibly “cop” all the Scots as well. There were those who visited “Fudger’s Junction” though. This was the mythical place where you could “spot” every engine! Those who visited it were ruthlessly ridiculed.


Every trainspotter had his Ian Allan “ref” which listed all the engines, in my case, of the London Midland Region. This was precious and kept at home. All the numbers spotted in the day were listed in a note book and, in the evening, these would be checked with the “ref” and the “cops” (engines seen for the first time) underlined in it.

Those were indeed halcyon days. The only bit of bother was the occasional appearance by the owner to assert his ownership. He was Charlie Jenkins who would shoo everyone off. Needless to say, as soon as he had gone, all reappeared!

There were two other individuals connected with the Stationfields whose names stand out. The mentor for young trainspotters was Dennis “Buster” Bromley. He knew everything about trainspotting and the engines and was much envied as he lived at the top of Marmion Street within easy reach of the Stationfields. He was a great source of intelligence. It was known that the engines pulling trains in the morning could return in the evening so if a rare one had gone through he would let us know and we would make sure we were there to see it return. The second was Mr Burrows who specialised in photographing engines. He would come amongst the spotters selling his photos at 6d each. I often wonder what happened to those priceless negatives.

Not only was the Station Café a popular haunt for motor cyclists during the 1950s but FMOS5trainspotters would gravitate there too during quiet periods. As I recall it, its interior was best described as functional with a counter, tables and chairs, table top football, a pinball machine and, of course, the juke box which has been mentioned elsewhere.

Today, as I walk across the mobile home site, images from those bygone days flow through my mind. I see the signals and those Leviathans of steam sometimes pulling as many as 17 carriages. However, one image always causes a shudder. I see the mid-day Royal Scot pulled by the double headed diesels numbered 10,000 and 10,001. Little did I realise in the 1950s that I was seeing the heralds of the demise of steam and the shape of things to come!

There are excellent pictures of Tamworth’s old fine Livock designed station and steam at Tamworth on the website:

Sensational Statfold – TDCS Visit 16th July 2016


TDCS Statfold 2016 07 16 SB_0205

The Tamworth and District Civic Society’s private V.I.P. tour of Statfold Barn Farm Steam Railway – one of the wonders of Tamworth and District – attracted 126 members and friends of all ages. We toured the workshops, yards and museums, admired the attractive and pristine railway architecture, had joyous steam train journeys, and picnicked surrounded by vintage machinery. A fantastic event. A fabulous place. A huge thank you to the owners for making TDCS so welcome, and many congratulations to them and all their volunteer helpers who have lovingly built and maintained this railway paradise.

TDCS Statfold 2016 07 16 SB_0250

For further information about Statfold Barn Farm and its amazing Steam Railway visit its website at:

TDCS Statfold 2016 07 16 SB_0233


TDCS Statfold 2016 07 16 SB_0267TDCS Statfold 2016 07 16 SB_0183






TDCS Statfold 2016 07 16 SB_0218

Images, in order of appearance:

Alpha steams through the Staffordshire countryside pulling 3 carriages fully laden with TDCS members and friends.  (Photo: S. Biggs).

Quite some hobby! A throng gathers as Graham Lee describes his stunning private collection. (Photo: S. Biggs).

Many guests enjoyed a picnic lunch. (Photo: S. Biggs).

The smiles say it all. One of the most successful and enjoyable TDCS events ever.  (Photo: S. Biggs).

Owner Graham Lee explains technical processes to an attentive audience in one of the workshops. (Photo S. Biggs).

All Aboard! The steam train prepares to depart from the beautiful and immaculate station platform. (Photo: David Peace).

Members of the party explore yards and sheds full of salvaged machines. (Photo: S. Biggs).

Secrets of the Tin Box

An Analysis of Settlement Certificates

Box of Settlemet Cerificates

Committee members Jill Wood and Tina Williams have been carrying out a detailed analysis of information gleaned from Settlement Certificates contained in a metal box, which was re-discovered at St Editha’s Church in 2014. The box contains approximately 280 certificates, dating from 1697 – 1822.

The 1662 Act of Settlement and Removal established the need to prove entitlement to Bundles of certificates1poor relief by the issuing of Settlement Certificates . The certificates state which parish a family belonged to and therefore which parish had the legal responsibility to provide poor relief if needed. These documents were important for a mobile population, who may have needed to travel to procure work or settle elsewhere. They were not issued exclusively to paupers.

Widow Sarah BirstallThe analysis, which is currently being finalised, will include the dates, names, occupations, the parish where the individual or families originated from, plus the names of witnesses, Churchwardens, Sidesmen and Overseers of the Poor and Justices of the Peace.

The research provides an insight into not only the lives of the individuals concerned,  but also the complex legislation governing migration and settlement.

Blog post and images courtesy of Jill Wood and Tina Williams.

Hopwas Church Fete, 2nd July 2016


What a quintessentially English scene!  The annual church fete at St. Chad’s Church, Hopwas on 2nd July 2016.  Stalls, entertainment by a dance troupe and the Tamworth Wind Band.

008This chocolate-box, church, lauded by Pevsner, nestles on Hopwas Hill in the shadow of Hopwas Hayes Wood.  It was designed in 1879 by the celebrated architect John Douglas of Chester, and is a Grade II listed building.  It is a daughter church of the Parish of Tamworth.  The beautiful red brick and half-timbered building, with its distinctive octagonal spire, is a great architectural asset to Tamworth and District.

Inside the welcoming interior may be found two memorial plaques to the dead of 007both world wars.  Exploring the churchyard, one will find various interesting graves, including that of the reforming and philanthropic Vicar of Tamworth, and noted Egyptologist, Reverend William MacGregor, who was one-time Curate at Hopwas and did much to get the new church built, replacing St. John’s in the centre of the village.  His plot lies forward of the village war memorial at the east end of the church.

Also to be seen is the grave of Reverend Ernest Henry Rogers who was Vicar of Tamworth (1922-36), and his wife, with a memorial vase to their son who was killed in action in 1942.

006Our correspondent tells us that an excellent new publication, called “Hopwas Papers” was on sale at the fete, and is a ‘must-have’ item for the area’s local historians.




(Blog Post and Photos: D. Biggs)

Tamworth Charity Proms, 2nd July 2016


Tamworth is ‘Promtastic’!  A true town of hope and glory!

We refer to the charity proms concert hosted by Tamworth’s Parish and Collegiate 018Church of St Editha to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. The singers and orchestra were excellent, The pews were packed and the church was an ocean of Union and England flags. Everyone seemed to have an enjoyable time.

The patriotic event also raised money both for the on-going restoration of the ancient 015edifice, and for the invaluable work of St. Giles’s Hospice at Whittington which helps so many people in our area.

We pay tribute to the Vicar and Churchwardens, and all who assist them, for day in and day out ensuring that our magnificent church is at the heart of our community, as their predecessors have also done for a millennium. On 30th June 2016 at 9.00 p.m. they held a Vigil Service for the eve of the Battle of the Somme centenary. On Friday evening 1st July they provided a Battle of the Somme commemoration service in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress of Tamworth. On Saturday night the hallowed stones reverberated to the Proms, and on Sunday it was business as usual. All this, and much more, every single day. They are a credit to our town.

We are so lucky to have this impressive and historic building, which we may all 020appreciate and benefit from, whether we are a member of its congregation or not. Its maintenance and restoration is a never-ending labour of love. The Proms concert was a brilliant way to help it, to honour our longest-living and longest-reigning monarch, and to engage with the community. Well done to all involved.

(Blog post and photos: D. Biggs)