|The Goat's Head||The Buttercross and the Goat's Head in the background|
|Manor House Hall||The Church of St. Nicholas|
|View across the choir to the north chapel||The nave, chancel and south chapel|
|Horn Dance antlers in the church||The Bagot Almshouses in Bagot Street|
|The School of St. Mary and St. Ann||The former village school|
Abbots Bromley first appears in written history in 942 as a manor called Bromleighe when it was in the possession of Wulfsige the Black. Later it was owned by Wulfric Spot, Earl of Mercia, who bequeathed it in 1004 to Burton Abbey when it became known as Bromley Abbatis. Abbots Bromley is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Brunlege. As a possession of Burton Abbey, the manor did not have a local lord of the manor until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The manor was then given to Sir William Paget, Clerk of the Signet and a privy councillor and became known as Paget's Bromley. The village reverted to the name of Abbots Bromley when in the 19th century the Pagets sold most of their land in the area. The Pagets had their seat at Beaudesert and the most illustrious of the line, Henry William Paget, 2nd Earl of Uxbridge, became the first Marquess of Anglesey for leading the cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo, where he lost a leg. The family moved to Plas Newydd, in Anglesey, now a property of the National Trust. Beaudesert was eventually demolished in the 1930s..
Other landowners in the vicinity were the Bagots who lived at Bagots Bromley. Black-necked goats are said to have been kept in Bagot Woods after being given to Sir John Bagot by King Richard II. The Goat's Head is a 16th century inn. It is said that Dick Turpin stayed a night at the inn after stealing a horse from Rugeley Horse Fair. Also in the village are the Bagot Arms, The Royal Oak, The Crown and the Coach and Horses.
According to the note attached to it, the Buttercross was probably built about 1339, in the reign of Edward III, only a few years before the Black Death. Pevsner describes it as 17th century. Samuel Johnson's father used to sell books at the Buttercross. Abbots Bromley had a Royal Charter for a market from 1227.
The Manor House Hall formerly belonged to the Barton Abbey. In 1583, Mary Queen of Scots stayed the night while en route from Tutbury to Chartley Castle. The Salt Library in Stafford has a pane of glass on which Queen Mary was said to have written with a diamond ring while staying at this house.
The annual Horn Dance at Abbots Bromley was performed originally at Berthelmy Fair in August 1226 which was to celebrate St. Bartholomew's day. It still takes place today on Wakes Monday. In 2003 this was the day following my visit - 8 September. The formula for calculating Wakes Monday is written in the village as the Monday following the first Sunday that falls after the 4th of September. The horns or antlers are normally kept in the St. Nicholas' church and on Wakes Monday they are collected at 8 am. There are six Deer-Men, a Fool, a Hobby Horse, a Bowman and Maid Marion. They are dance at various sites around the village during the course of the day and are accompanied by music from a melodeon. In 1976 a fragment of one of the horns was subjected to carbon dating showing it to date from about the time of the Norman Conquest. .
Church House, in Bagot Street (not shown) was built in 1619. It has been restored and opened on 18 May 1967 as a church meeting room and caretaker's house. For a few Sundays before Wakes Monday the local Women's Institute run a tea-room there and provide excellent cakes at a modest price - well worth a visit. Nearby is the Bagot Almshouse of 1705.
St. Nicholas's church at Abbots Bromley dates back to 1002. It was rebuilt early in the 12th century and further rebuilt and enlarged to include the aisles by 1300. The clerestories were added and the aisle roofs in the late 15th century. In 1688 the spire fell down. The west end had to be rebuilt including the tower. In 1825 a new roof was provided for the nave and there was further extensive restoration in the middle of the 19th century by G. Street of Oxford. Further repairs have been carried out in the last 50 years and in 1977 eight bells from Bradley church were hung in the tower. The list of priests begins in 1086.
The village is known for the school of St. Mary and St. Ann. It is a Woodward School, established in 1874 and built in brick. It has been modified and extended since then but the chapel dates from 1870s. The earliest school in the village was built with a bequest of £100 from Richard Clarke in 1606 and called Clarke's Free Grammar School. Clarke was a local man who became a wealthy dyer and a citizen of London. Under his will land was left to provide an income for the school and it was rented for £20 on a 1000 year lease. So ostensibly the lease has 600 years to run. The executors of the will must not have been used to inflation. The school lies alongside the old road from Uttoxeter to Tutbury and is timber framed of long-house design. The panels between the timbers are wattle and daub. This building is difficult to photograph from the road as it lies behind the more modern brick school shown in my picture. Under the Education Act of 1870 the building became an elementary school but by the 1920s it was no longer used for lessons and became the home of the headmaster, Douglas Vernon Law. The newer brick building is also a private house.
The following notes outline the interesting career of Sir William Paget in the turbulent Tudor period and his heirs until they regained possession of Sir William's lands.
1. Sir William Paget, the 1st Baron (1505-1563) came from relatively humble stock but was educated at St Paul's School, London, and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. It is believed that the Boleyn family supported him at university. After the fall of Thomas Cromwell, Paget became Henry VIII's chief minister. He acquired monastic lands at the Dissolution of the Monasteries including Beaudesert, which had been the property of the Bishop of Lichfield, Burton Abbey and Drayton in Middlesex. He was employed on various diplomatic services by Henry VIII; was sent as an ambassador to France in 1541 and made a privy councillor. He was MP for Staffordshire in 1547.
Following the death of Henry VIII the protectors of the young Edward VI were first Somerset and then the Duke of Northumberland. Paget was a Knight of the Garter and comptroller of the king's household on Edward's accession. He played a prominent part in the plot to set aside Henry VIII's will, and proposed a protectorate in the council. He created Baron Paget of Beaudesert by Somerset in 1549 and remained faithful to Somerset. The next protector was Northumberland. Paget was arrested (1551) on the charge of conspiring against Warwick's life and sent to the Tower. While there he was degraded from the Garter on the ground of insufficient birth, and fined £6,000 for using his offices for his private emolument
After Edward VI's death, Paget supported Lady Jane Grey but probably under duress. He joined Queen Jane's council, but sanctioned the proclamation of Queen Mary. He was high steward of Cambridge University, 1554-63; was restored to the Garter, and, in 1556, made lord privy seal by Queen Mary. He relinquished his offices on Queen Elizabeth's accession. Paget left £3000 and died in his bed, a great achievement for a minister in those times.
2 Henry Paget, the 2nd Baron, died in 1568 only five years after his father. He was a man of letters and had no heirs.
3. Thomas Paget, the 3rd Baron (1543-1589) was a Roman Catholic. He was sent to the tower for recusancy in 1580. It may be that he was also discriminated against because he was estranged from his wife who had powerful friends at court. Once he had made her a generous settlement he was released. Thomas was involved in the Throgmorten Plot and fled abroad in 1583. He was an advisor to Mary Queen of Scots. He was a patron of the composer William Byrd, who was a Catholic.
On Cannock Chase, Thomas encouraged the development of iron working as there was iron ore. He altered Beaudesert making it similar to Hardwick in having three storeys. At one stage the house was leased for 21 years to Falk Greville who deforested large parts of the Chase to make charcoal. Thomas built a magnificent marble tomb in Bruge. It was 15 feet by 9 feet and sent to Lichfield Cathedral where it stood until destroyed in the Civil War. Shown kneeling on the top were his father, mother, brother, and sister-in-law. While in France, his lands and titles were taken and his son did not get them back until the time of James I.
4 William Paget, the 4th Baron (1572-1629), son of Thomas, 3rd Baron Paget
; was BA, Christ Church, Oxford, 1590. He was a staunch Protestant and restored
by James I to the lands and honours forfeited by his father's attainder. He
did not live much at Beaudesert, preferring the Drayton estate as it was nearer
London. However, the coal and iron of Cannock were important sources of income
The Buildings of England, Staffordshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin,
1974, ISBN 0 14 071046 9
The Old Parish Churches of Staffordshire, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, 1996, ISBN 1871731 25 8
Abbots Bromley published by Abbots Bromley Parish Council and MBC, free pamphlet.
St. Nicholas' Church, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, by E. R. Shipman, BA, 1976, a booklet available in the church. This source states that the Manor was given to Thomas Paget by Henry VIII. This is incorrect as shown in the notes above.
Staffordshire Aristocrats, a course by Rose Wheat at Wedgwood Memorial College, Barlaston, Staffordshire, 1998/9.