|Ilam Hall||Entrance to the Hall|
Ilam is a picturesque spot on the River Manifold. Water that disappears in sink holes in the river near Wetton Mill, reappears near Ilam. Dr. Samuel Johnson and his biographer, James Boswell, observed the water appearing from clefts in the rock and were assured by the gardener at Ilam Hall that he had tested the the passage of the water by the use of corks. The river Hamps joins the Manifold at the base of Beeston Tor and nearby is the cave of St. Bertram or Bertelin, in which Saxon jewels and coins from the reign of King Alfred were discovered. St. Bertelin lived in the late 7th and early 8th centuries. He was reputed to be the son of a Mercian prince and a disciple of St. Guthlac. After Guthlac's death about AD 700 he ministered in Stafford then repaired to Ilam where he died and was buried. St. Bertelin, carrying a staff, is on the crest of the armorial bearing for the city of Stafford. Further information on St. Bertram or Bertelin is shown on my Longnor page.
Ilam Hall, is a Youth Hostel, and some of its outbuilding are used as a National Trust Shop and Tea Room. The hall was rebuilt by Jesse Watts Russell between 1821 and 1826. The hall has an ornate entrance on the north side where carriages could draw up under cover.
|Holy Cross from the west||The nave|
|The tower from the south||Effigies of Robert Meverell and his wife|
|Norman Font||Remains of the shrine of St. Bertelin or Bertram|
|Blocked round headed doorway to left of window||Watts Memorial carved by Chantrey|
The church of Holy Cross is on an ancient site of worship. There are two late Saxon crosses in the churchyard and the blocked round-headed doorway in the south wall may be Saxon too. The nave has some 13th century masonry in the side walls and the tower and south porch date from this period. The south chapel, dated 1618, contains fragments of a 13th shrine to St. Bertelin. It also contains the alabaster effigies shown above. They represent Robert Meverell (died 1626) and his wife. There was extensive restoration by Scott between 1855 and 1856, including the chancel and the north aisle. North of the chancel is a large octagonal chapel, built in 1831 to contain the effigy of David Pike Watts. It was built by his son-in-law, Jesse Watts Russell of Ilam Hall.
The Eleanor crosses were built by Edward I to mark the places where the embalmed body of Queen Eleanor (of Castile) lay each night on its journey to London. She died on 28 November 1290 in Nottinghamshire having had 16 children. Her heart was buried in a Dominican Friary in London and her entrails at Lincoln. The locations of the 12 crosses were as follows: Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St. Albans, Waltham, Westcheap, and Charing. Extensive details survive for the construction of the crosses between 1291 and 1294. Today only the crosses at Waltham Cross (Hertfordshire), Geddington and Hardingstone (both Northamptonshire) remain. The one at Charing Cross is a reconstruction. It was destroyed in 1647, during the Civil War, and the modern cross of 1863 stands in the forecourt of Charing Cross Railway Station. After the restoration of the English monarchy in 1666, several regicides were executed on the spot where the old cross stood, and the site is marked by an equestrian statue (1672) in memory of Charles I, who was executed in 1649.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries several replica Eleanor Crosses were erected including those at Ilam in Staffordshire, Walkden (Lancashire), Sledmere (Yorkshire), and Queensbury. The one at Ilam was built in 1840 by Jesse Watts Russell of Ilam Hall to commemorate his wife.
|The 'Eleanor' Cross at Ilam||Charring Cross, London, 30 Aug 2006||Saxon Cross in the churchyard|
|The Cross in March 2012||Restoration as seen in March 2012|
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
The King's England, Staffordshire, by Arthur Mee, Hodder and Stoughton, London, first published in 1937.
Stafford Borough Council Website
Britain Express Web-Site