Special Edition 21 May 2020 Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage

Group of 19th century gardeners

Welcome to this special edition of the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage newsletter.

We would like to hear from you. The William Salt Library and Staffordshire Archives & Heritage are working in partnership to create and deliver the new Staffordshire History Centre. Find out how you can take part in our survey below.  


Document in Archive Stores

Share Your Thoughts on Our Future

Take part in our survey: Share your thoughts and help to shape the new Staffordshire History Centre 

Staffordshire Archives & Heritage and the William Salt Library are working in partnership to create and deliver the new Staffordshire History Centre. The project will transform the way the public engage with our services, our collections and create an exciting new visitor experience.

We are interested in learning more about your personal experiences of Staffordshire Archives & Heritage (both in person and/or online), as well as some more information about how you spend your leisure time in general. Any information you can provide through this survey would help to inform the developments of Staffordshire History Centre and would be very much appreciated. Take part in the survey here


Research at Home

A helping hand to find wills on Find My Past

As you might know, some of our archive collections can be accessed online through the subscription website Find My Past. These are primarily our parish registers collection and the Diocese of Lichfield wills.  In normal circumstances, you can access this website free of charge at Staffordshire’s archives and libraries, along with guidance from staff if you’re having trouble finding suitable results. Of course, at the moment this option isn’t available.

However, never fear – Find My Past often offers a free trial period before a full subscription kicks in, so if you have access to the internet you might be able to give it a try. To help you navigate through the choppy waters of finding wills in our collection on Find My Past, we have just launched two new videos on our YouTube channel, StaffsHistoryCentre (just follow the links below).

These virtual demonstrations take you through basic searches for wills, then looks at common problems when the right results don’t come up! We’re also hoping to add further ‘How to’ videos on our channel in future, so watch this space…

Here are the links to part one and part two:

Part One - https://youtu.be/QLp3BHW-aKk 

Part Two - https://youtu.be/FvBndILeFXQ

Coton Hill Asylum from the Air

Aerial view of Coton Hill Asylum

Asylum Project Update

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and we take a look at some of the recent stories and research coming from our team working on our Asylums Project. This week Rebecca Jackson looks at the link between the Asylums and their links with outdoor space and gardening to support the patients.

Gardening and the Asylums

Gardening events from the Chelsea Flower Show to Garden Day earlier this month and, locally, the Open Garden Scheme are all going virtual this year to keep us connected with nature. Anecdotally, we are hearing from neighbours, friends and family about how gardening is something positive to focus on in troubling times. We hear a lot in the media about the benefits of gardening for our mental wellbeing. You won’t be surprised to learn that this is nothing new!

Staffordshire’s asylums used gardening from the very beginning as a therapeutic activity for patients. From the eighteenth century onwards, when the treatment of mental illness started to focus on ‘kindness’ and ‘moral therapy’, the outdoor environment of asylums assumed great importance. Good views, fresh air and the sights of nature were seen to be a calming influence on the mind, and an aid to the healing process. All three asylums in Staffordshire employed landscape gardeners to create their grounds when they opened, and employed patients to assist the head gardeners in maintaining a pleasant environment, and as an aid to their own recovery. Thomas Prichard of the private Abington Abbey Retreat in Northampton wrote in 1860: “…the care of the gardens being, in many instances entrusted to patients, serves as a double purpose–of affording wholesome occupation, and of promoting a tranquil and cheerful tone of thought’.

Stafford Asylum Grounds and Group of Gardeners

Stafford Asylm Grounds and a group of 19th century gardeners

Ornamental beds, spaces to sit and be tranquil, and good views over the countryside were all part of the healing process. Cheddleton asylum was built on an elevated plateau to allow good views of the surrounding fields and woods. The importance of well-planned grounds as a recreational space and a form of therapy, along with outdoor activities and sports, were all key elements of Staffordshire’s asylums right up until their closure in the 1990s. In June the Asylums Project blog will focus on gardens and gardening at Stafford, Burntwood and Cheddleton Asylums. Research is ongoing and if you have any images or information about the asylum grounds/gardens please contact Steve, stephen.cunniffe@staffordshire.gov.uk.

Zooming In - A Look at the Collections

Volunteers and Friends have been researching the collections. Here we look at some of the stories they are uncovering.

The Young Man’s Best Companion (Staffordshire Record Office, D570)

Another visit to this intriguing little book of advice to young gentlemen. Once again please don’t try this at home!

Young Gentlemans Companion



Village Name Wordsearch Challenge

Village Names Word Search

Can you find these villages? 

Butterton, Kinver, Rudyard, Gayton, Oakamoor, Salt, Gnosall, Hopwas, Rocester, Wychnor. 

Staffordshire Steeple and Tower Challenge - Week 6

Steeple and Tower Challenge Week 6

Brainteaser Solutions


Steeple and Tower Challenge
The answers to Week 5 of the challenge are: Halmerend and Hopwas

Our aim is to keep you updated with the latest developments and events. If you do not wish to receive this newsletter please use the 'unsubscribe' button at the bottom of this page. 

Staffordshire Archives News


Staffordshire Archives News


Staffordshire Archives News


Manage your subscription tothis newsletter or unsubscribe here