Extract from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Transcribed by Mel Lockie, © Copyright 2010
Lewis Topographical Dictionaries

STONE, a parish in the southern division of the hundred of PIREHILL, county of STAFFORD, comprising the market-town of Stone, and the liberties of Beech, Hilderstone, Kibblestone, and Normicott, and containing 7251 inhabitants, of which number, 2855 are in the town of Stone, 7 miles (N. by W.) from Stafford, and 141 (N.W. by N.) from London. The name is traditionally reported to be derived from a monumental heap of stones, which, according to the custom of the Saxons, had been placed over the bodies of the Princes Wulford and Rufinus, who were here slain by their father Wulf here, King of Mercia, on account of their conversion to Christianity.

The king himself becoming subsequently a convert, founded, in 670, a college of Secular canons, dedicating it to his children, in expiation of his crime, and to this establishment the town is supposed to owe its origin. The canons having been expelled, during the war with the Danes, the college fell into the possession of some nuns, who established themselves here. No mention is made of it in Domesday-book, but it appears to have been granted by Henry I. to Robert de Stafford, who displaced the nuns, and made it a cell to the monastery of Kenilworth, which it continued to be until 1260, when it became independent, with the exception of paying a small sum annually to that monastery, and an acknowledgment of its patronage; its revenue was valued, at the dissolution, at about £119.

The town is situated on the high road from London to Liverpool, on the eastern bank of the river Trent, over which there is a bridge to Walton, and is paved, and well supplied with water; it consists chiefly of one long street, with several others branching off. The Trent and Mersey canal (commonly called the Grand Trunk) passes through the town, running parallel for several miles with the river; and the principal office of the Company of Proprietors of this prosperous and important navigation is here. Races are occasionally held in the neighbourhood, and assemblies sometimes in the town.

The prevailing branch of manufacture is that of shoes, and there are two considerable breweries; on a stream which falls into the Trent are also several flour and flint mills. The market is on Tuesday; about fifty years since, a great deal of business in corn was transacted at it, but it has very much declined, owing probably to the rapidly increasing population, and additional markets, in the neighbouring potteries. The fairs are on the Tuesday after Mid-Lent, Shrove-Tuesday, Whit-Tuesday, August 5th, and the Tuesday next before the Feast of St. Michael, the two last only being much frequented. Petty sessions are held by the county magistrates every fortnight, and two constables are annually chosen at the court leet of the lord of the manor. The house of industry, erected about forty years since, is governed by the directors and guardians of the parish, under the authority of an act of parliament: the paupers manufacture their own. clothing and a few other articles.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Stafford, and diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, endowed with £13 per annum private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Crown. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a modern structure in the later English style, with a square tower: the altar-piece is a fine painting, by Sir William Beechey, of St. Michael binding Satan. The old church fell down about the middle of the last century, occasioned, it is said, by the undermining of one of the pillars in digging a vault; in consequence of which, no interment is allowed to take place within the walls of the present edifice. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyan Methodists, and a Roman Catholic chapel at Aston Hall, in this parish.

The free school was founded and endowed with a small annual income by the Rev. Thomas Alleyn, in 1558. The master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, are the trustees, and appoint the master: the school-house adjoins the churchyard, but there are no boys on the foundation. A bequest of £100 per annum to ten poor widows, charged on the Stone Park estate, is paid by Viscount Granville, though void by the mortmain act; there are other small charitable endowments. The remains of the abbey adjoin the churchyard, and consist of one perfect arch and rather extensive cloisters.

On clearing away some of the rubbish, in 1828, a stone coffin was discovered under the foundation of one of the walls, with the remains enclosed, in a tolerably perfect state. In a field, now allotted to the poor, at a short distance from the town, the army under the Duke of Cumberland was encamped, in 1745, expecting the Pretender to pass that way, but he avoided them by taking the route by Leek. The late celebrated naval commander, Earl St. Vincent, was born at Meaford, in this parish, and is buried in the churchyard here.

BEECH, a liberty in the parish of STONE, southern division of the hundred of PIREHILL, county of STAFFORD, containing 838 inhabitants.

DARLASTON, a liberty in the parish of STONE, southern division of the hundred of PIREHILL, county of STAFFORD, 2 miles (N.W.) from Stone, with which the population is returned.

NORMICOTT, a liberty in the parish of STONE, southern division of the hundred of PIREHILL, county of STAFFORD, containing 878 inhabitants.

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