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Sheep Fair


Signposts from the past

This now quiet street was once packed with sheep brought in from the surrounding heathland to be sold on market day. The noise of bleating and shouting, and the smell of dung and sweat have gone now, but the wide street remains.

This sheep fair of around 1900 at Builth Wells, Powys, gives us an
impression of how a sheep fair was organized in a small town.
Courtesy Powys County Archives Office

The name Sheep Fair tells us what happened here – even though sheep have not been sold here for many decades. Nearby street names also give us clues to
the past. Lion Street is named after the White Lion, a public house now demolished.

The area was designated a Conservation Area in 2004

The White Lion coaching inn stood on the corner of Lion Street.
Drawing courtesy of Edwina Morgan

It’s all Greek to me

Crossley Stone House was built in the 18th century – a time when people greatly admired the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome. You can find evidence of this reflected in details such as decorated pillars and rigid symmetry.

Pinfolds were simple enclosures, like this
one at Wellow, Nottinghamshire

Not all tithe barns were as grand as this one
at Middle Littleton, near Evesham
Copyright of Elke at

Hagley Hall

Elmore Park was once part of the Hagley Hall estate. In the 14th century, land in Rugeley passed to the de Thomenhorn family, who were granted the office of the Keeper of the Royal Forest of Cannock.

The office became associated with the sub-manor of Hagley. In about 1392
Thomas de Thomenhorn built the original Hagley Hall, which included a chapel, a kitchen, two barns, a brewery, a stable, an ox stall, and a gatehouse and drawbridge. The hall probably stood on the island in the middle of Elmore Park.

In 1636 a new Hagley Hall was built by Sir Richard Weston. The hall changed
hands several times, and in the 18th century it was extended and remodelled.
In about 1930 the hall was partly demolished. When the Western Springs
by-pass was built in 1956, it isolated a small section of the estate. This was
later turned into Elmore Park.

What remained of the house fell into disrepair and was pulled down in the 1980s.

An east view of the grounds of Hagley Hall, showing the house in the distance. This pen and wash drawing, by J Allport, is dated 4th May 1814.
Courtesy of the Trustees of the William Salt Library, Stafford

Explore and discover
Around Sheep Fair

There are lots of clues to the past around Sheep Fair. Here you can find reminders of a time when the streets were muddy, and you can look out for the differences between buildings on a street.

Bow Street builders

These terraced houses fall into two styles, which often suggests that stretches of land were bought by different builders. The housing details tell us where one builder might have taken over from another, each offering distinctive attractions
to the buyer.

You can find changes of builder in terraces all over Rugeley.

Have you trodden in something?

Look down to see boot-scrapers next to doorways around Sheep Fair. The streets used to be very muddy in wet weather, and since horses were the main
form of transport, you had to be careful where you trod!

Giving your public house a face-lift

Like many buildings in Rugeley, part of The Vine public house is timber-framed, but was covered with a cladding of expensive facing-bricks when this became fashionable. You might recall seeing other timber-framed buildings in Rugeley. Their owners may have been people unable to afford the cost of appearing up-to-date.

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