|St. Michael and All Angels||The tower and spire|
|Norman Font||Cotton Tomb|
|Arcade||Tower staircase and chimney of the old hall|
Hamstall Ridware lies about 3.5 miles due east of Rugeley on the river Blithe. It was mentioned in the Domesday Survey and became a classic rural village with manor house, church and rectory. The manor house is Elizabethan with a fine gateway with two towers. It was built in the time of the Fitzherberts in the 16th and early 17th centuries. The tower shown in the photograph is part of the manor house and connected together the different floors. The rectory was built in 1724 by the Revd. Bree. Jane Austen, her sister Cassandra and her mother visited to stay with her first cousin, the Revd. Edward Cooper in 1806. The Revd. Cooper stayed at Hamstall from 1799 until his death in 1833 and he and his wife Caroline Isabella are buried in the church.
The first family recorded as lords of the manor were the eponymous de Ridwares. Ridware derives from an old name for river folk. In the latter half of the 14th century Agnes daughter and heir of Walter de Ridware married William Cotton or Cotham from Cheshire. In the reign of Henry VIII it was acquired by marriage by the Fitzherberts. In the 16th century Sir Anthony Fitzherbert was a judge and King's Sergeant to Henry VIII. He took part in the trial of Thomas More. Sir Anthony's grandson sold the estate in 1601 to Sir Thomas Leigh, probably as an estate for his second son. This family succeeded to the Stoneleigh estates and held the property until the 20th century and sold it in lots between the wars.
The church was founded about 1130 and although there is still evidence of Norman masonry the nave and chancel walls and the north chapel are 14th century and aisles are 15th century; the tower was begun in the 14th century and the spire is 17th century. The tomb shown in my photographs is that for Richard and Joan Cotton of 1502. There are painted on it the sheilds of eight sons and six daughters. The font outside the church in Norman with colonnettes at the corners. The north chapel screen is probably early 16th century.
There are boards inside the church displaying information on the village and building taken from Ron Elton's book, mentioned below. There are details of some of the stained glass, the font, choir benches, the Cotton family and some of the clergy. A second display outlines the history of the manor house.
The Buildings of England, Staffordshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin, 1974, ISBN 0 14 071046 9
The King's England, Staffordshire, by Arthur Mee, Hodder and Stoughton, London, first published in 1937.
Article called Starkey's Snippets in The Bugle of May 1999, which I photographed on the wall of the local public house The Shoulder of Mutton. It mentions as the definitive source Hamstall Ridware a Village of Staffordshire, by Ron Elton, published in 1988.