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Church Street Conservation Area  

‘Neat lawns and pleasure grounds’

This area was where the wealthy families of Rugeley lived in the 18th and
19th centuries. It still retains an atmosphere of elegance and prosperity.

In 1992 the area around Church Street, near to where you are standing, was
made a Conservation Area because of its architectural and historic interest.
A 19th-century account described the houses in this area as being well-built,
and some even elegant, being occupied by wealthy families and having neat
lawns and pleasure grounds. By the late 1800s much of Church Street looked as
we see it today. These houses now represent some of the best examples of
domestic architecture in Rugeley.

The gateway to the mediaeval fields

During the Middle Ages, Rugeley had three common fields. Taylors Lane,
which branches off the middle of Church Street, once led between one of these
(Churchfield) and the town.

Rugeley Grammar School

Established in 1567, in the reign of Elizabeth I, Rugeley Grammar School was in Wolseley Road, where the Chancel Primary School now stands. Among the Grammar School’s pupils were William Palmer (the Rugeley poisoner) and the
eminent geologist, Thomas George Bonney. The Bonneys were an influential local family. The Rev. Thomas Bonney, Thomas George’s father, was headmaster of Rugeley Grammar School. His brother, Charles, was a
celebrated explorer of Australia. Frederic, one of the headmaster’s sons, made detailed studies of the lives of Aboriginal people. He took some of the earliest photographs of them, and in recognition of this was made a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute. He retired to Rugeley and ended his days in The Hollies in Church Street.

This depiction of Rugeley Grammar School by J.C. Buckler dates from 1824.
Courtesy of the Trustees of the William Salt Library, Stafford

Be a house detective

Most of the houses in these streets are Victorian and a few
are Georgian. When you can recognise the common features of each style it becomes much easier to tell which is which.

Decorative doorway with pillars and a fanlight above the door

Clues to a Georgian House:

  • Paired chimneys
  • Parapet round the top, hiding the slope of the roof
  • Smaller windows near the roof
  • Window-panes in multiples of three
  • Simple bands of stonework to contrast with the brick
  • Symmetrical design

No 9 Wolseley Road, on the corner of Church Street, is the oldest building in the Church Street Conservation Area. It was built in the late 18th century

Patterns in the brickwork
Clues to a Victorian House:
  • Visible slate roofs
  • Pillars and bargeboards of carved wood
  • Ironwork decoration
  • Big gables
  • Large-paned sash windows
  • Bay windows
  • Stained glass in doorways and windows
  • Lack of symmetry

Something old, something new

The Primitive Methodist Chapel dates from
1870 (with the addition of a vestry in 1888).
It cost £200 to build. To the side you can see some foundation stones. They probably show who had contributed to the cost.
Look out for the original features and the
modern alterations. What do you think the
original windows might have looked like?

All of these properties are private
and are not accessible to the public

Explore and discover
Caring for the needy

Since mediaeval times, homes for the poor and needy, known as almshouses,
have been founded by wealthy individuals or charitable groups. Two of Rugeley’s almshouses can still be seen within the Church Street Conservation Area. You can identify them by the plaques set into the walls.

This plaque was preserved in a new building after the original almshouses were knocked down. Sarah Hopkins founded them for four poor women in 1826.

The plaque appears to read:

These almshouses for four poor women and the school[unclear] house were erected and endowed by Mrs Sarah Hopkins of Stone House A.D. 1826

The Sneyd Almshouses are at the junction of Church Street and Fortescue Lane. The plaque set into the wall tells us that they were built in memory of Mr and Mrs Sneyd by their daughters.

The plaque appears to read:

Erected in memory of Mr R. Sneyd of Eaton Lodge and of S. B. Sneyd his wife by their daughters

The Levett House was founded as a convalescent home in 1862. A report of 1888 states that it cost five shillings (25p) a week to look after a patient in the home. Local people donated gifts to the home: the Rev. E. Samson gave turkey and sausages, and some carpet came from Milford Hall.

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