Category Is... Stafford, England!

As the third UK Lockdown continued to ease, I decided to visit Stafford for the day in June 2021. I wasn't about to wait for Boris's verdict on 'Freedom Day' because Stafford had several things to show me! From the castle to a house fit for Elizabethan royalty, I knew that Stafford would have lots on offer! With the buzz of 'reality' returning, did Stafford show me some normality? Maybe!

Taking the train from Wolverhampton to Stafford was easy peasy, being out of that West Midlands location gave me a piece of my soul back! Yes, I'm going through some dramatics!  Knowing where I needed to head towards, I arrived at the Ancient High House before dinnertime! Getting those timings in tow, I knew that my packed schedule for the day by foot would be a piece of cake. Would it be? Climbing those creaking aged steps, I discovered a myriad of exhibits that ranged from different time periods, each told their own story. Word in Stafford was that Queen Elizabeth 1 was supposed to be visiting the County Town, with her possible high profile visit on the cards, the Ancient High House was built. Constructed in 1595, this Elizabethan style wonder made Stafford's Greengate Street pop with 'Elizabethan Realness!' The opulent furniture that I did see, well you already know I wanted to take that home with me! Keeping my hands to myself, I admired those designs from a safe social distance. Yes, opulence!  

Yes! The four poster bed in one of the period dressed rooms looked particular luxurious for the time that it was from! Each exhibit gave me a clearer picture as I climbed the stairs from the entrance to what was the attic, I was visually very impressed! That was it! It was the Stuart Room that had that four poster bed that I wanted! Who built the Ancient High House? The Dorrington Family built this Stafford icon, as mentioned before that was in 1595. During the English Civil War, the Ancient High House was possibly let to Richard Sneyd. Sneyd eventually bought the house, leaving it to his Daughter in his last will and testament for her. That is enough history, thank you very much indeed! Really, I was happy to be out of the house because this Lockdown mess has not impressed me all that much! Miss Rona, I want those receipts because you've robbed me of that overseas life! Stafford, I apologise because this is your moment not mine! Stafford's Ancient High House had me searching for some hidden treasure in that town! 

Like a winner, I walked out of the town centre towards Stafford's own castle. Being a queen, I sought a slice of 'Royal Highness' and by the heavens above I found that Staffs castle on the mound. The view from the top with the castle in tow looked mighty fine to me! I might not be winning at life right but some kind of adrenaline kept me going in order to reach the top! Dating back to the 14th century, I didn't previously know that Stafford even had its own castle! The remaining parts of the castle stood proudly as the weather held up, it was actually quite a nice, sunny day. I was not complaining, the walk from the town centre had apparently stretched over two miles, I didn't know it at that moment but I'd be clocking up some serious steps that Saturday! Free to access, the castle grounds were modest, I was more interesting with the view because it was quite scenic indeed! A princess had built this castle with her own royal hands? Tell me more! No, she better don't! But she did! Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians! Reign, Ethel! 

An English princess from the time of the Anglo-Saxons went and commissioned this castle for all to be remembered! Hiking up to the very top, I was more a sweaty mess rather than a stunning reigning member of royalty! Ethel, she already done had hers! I did not have time to waste, making my way down back to the road, I had loved my snapshot view over Stafford from the castles peak. Remember, dear Lady of the Mercians, I am the only Princess Queen around these part nowadays! Alright, E? Consider that castle stolen! Stafford, off with her head! Walking back into Stafford from the castle, it had dawned upon me that my walk to Doxey Marshes Nature Reserve would take me an absolute age! Hell, I was ready for the challenge! The Shire Hall was still looking like a whole mess with those people eating their stall bought food, I was not going to entertain any crowded spaces that day! Miss Rona hasn't finished her stint on the longest running series of 'RuPaul's Pandemic Race', surely I was ready to social distance for my life? O!

Feeling like I had had enough of bricks, mortar and people, I headed away from the town centre towards something more scenic. Originally I spotted a lush photo online that depicted a marshy nature reserve, I wasn't going to lie, I wanted something quieter to discover. Pounding the pavement in the right direction, I had my sense of direction questioned several times that afternoon before I finally found the Doxey Marshes Nature Reserve with my own seeing eyes! Those side-streets tried to attack my sense of direction, with a defiant clapback, I was eventually fronted by those greener pastures. Stafford tried to talk about me not knowing where I was going, situated within that cool and calm marsh area had me taking the crown! I appreciated the scenic nature, with the mainline track located not too far away in the distance I had a little reminder I would need to make tracks back towards the town centre. Doxey allowed me a look around free of charge, with such lush and green views for free, I was living! Doxey, don't try me! 

A little nature never hurt anybody, taking some time to walk around the marshes impressed me much! I sensed that it was a local affair because the walk was long and the signage was questionable. Making my way back towards Stafford had to be done, I still had to eat that McDonald's I had promised myself. Giving myself a well earned congratulations, I was on course to see everything that I had planned to see! Stafford had served everything and more, it was on fire! The Ancient High House served Elizabethan charm with its black and white wooden exterior, of course it was free to access and enjoy! For a day out on a penny, I ensured those goals scored themselves! The town centre was popping, people were queuing for a Happy Meal? Yes, that out-of-town franchise restaurant had my name all over it! Getting my value meal, I felt accomplished that I had found Doxey without any phone signal or maps, my willpower was challenged with the Bluetooth pinpoint on the map though! Who was on trial? Let me go see, S! 

Court is in session! Bring back my criminals! Where they at? Get them back! Finally the stall workers had picked up their ish, their customers had sashayed away at long last! My Doxey Marshes diversion had proved fruitful, I could now snap my undisturbed photo of Stafford's Shire Hall. I had seen during some pre-trip research that the court building was no longer being used for its originally built purpose, that a new grant of funding would turn it into an events space? Anyhow, as the pandemic tore through the country, it was said that Stafford's Shire Hall would become a 'Nightingale court' that would be used to mop up outstanding court cases that the other nearby county towns couldn't get through. Now, we all love a helpful queen! Don't we? We do! Taking some time to enjoy the peace within that market free square, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to catch a calmer version of that location. Breathing a sigh of relief, I felt very accomplished. After getting it right, I almost wanted to start the day over again! Really, ST?

Whether the court will resume its former use, I didn't know the answer as I walked to the train station. Stepping off from my Wolverhampton train as it pulled into Stafford that morning, I left my problems at the train station. Exhilarated, I discovered a lot within one morning and afternoon and with a low budget I wasn't disappointed one bit! The main event might've passed but the four places bossed had been worth every step walked, by that time I was nearly 35,000 steps. Calling it a day, I hopped back on a Wolverhampton bound train with the question, 'where would my next trip be?' Feeling as if Stafford made me feel like a champion, I didn't feel bitter as my day came to an end. That super Saturday didn't see me fall, within this Lockdown period it has been a blessing to take these normal days out that still really don't feel normal. In the daylight, Stafford still served as my shining star as it guided me to those four places without any issues. Stafford, your story is gold, as the truth will be told! Stafford, you're a champion! Yes, S!

Jealous Of My Stafford? 

Joseph Harrison 


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