The History of Hamstall Ridware

Our meeting on Thursday 20th June was a talk by Mrs Jean Monk on the history of Hamstall Ridware, its Hall and its Church from Saxon times to the present day. Mrs Monk wove her historic account and embroidered it with good humour while Mr Monk projected a wealth of illustrations showing the village and its buildings, with which many members are familiar. The reverence with which historic buildings are currently regarded often depends upon the fame or notoriety of the personalities with which they have been associated. On this account Hamstall Ridware scores well as Cromwell, our ubiquitous militant puritan, was there to meet his Council before the attack upon Lichfield. Jane Austen visited her cousin, the Rev. Edward Cooper, in the Rectory and used this experience in writing "Sense and Sensibility". The lesser known Cottons have their 'spread eagle' coat of arms recorded in blue brick and one of the Fitzherberts, who lived in the village at the time of Queen Elizabeth I, ended his days with thirty years in the tower.

Here, beside the River Blith, the river-folk saw William de Ridware build his Manor House and subsequent generations saw it grow, by a process of accretion, as different times and different occupants responded to current needs. The Great Hall was probably lost by fire in the 18th century and other parts no doubt decayed. Today just part of the tower still stands, in a somewhat dangerous condition. The 'pepper pot' gateway which gives access to the farmyard is an interesting monument to past owners. Its present owners, Chris and Jenny Hobbs, have, since their arrival in 1982, done much to save this important site for present and future generations by converting the considerable range of outbuildings into attractive units which are progressively being occupied as craft shops.

If you have not yet been to Hamstall Ridware, or have not been for some time, Jean Monk's talk would certainly have encouraged you to visit.

Ivor Mitchell
June 1991