Stafford, the county town of Staffordshire, stands on the River Trent and its name means 'ford by a landing place (staithe)'. This was the only feasible place for a large army to cross this important river and as a result the location was of strategic importance for a large area.
The ancient settlement was originally on an island in the middle of marshes on the River Sow, a tributary of the River Trent.
The town became the capital of the Kingdom of Mercia in 913 AD and in 1070 William the Conqueror built a wooden fortress on a hillside nearby. This timber structure was later replaced by a stone castle, which was rebuilt several times over the centuries.
Today only 19th century ruins crown the earthworks. The castle has dominated the Stafford skyline for over 900 years and at night-time the illuminated castle makes an impressive landmark for motorists on the M6 and travellers on the West Coast Main Line.
One of Stafford's most famous residents was Izaak Walton (1593 - 1683). Famous as the author of the Compleat Angler, Walton lived in Shallowford and his thatched cottage is now open to the public.
Another famous resident was Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751 - 1816). Well known as a playwright, Sheridan was also also the local MP.
Since the turn of the 20th century Stafford has been known for its heavy engineering and in particular the production of power station transformers. Occasionally a vast transformer can be seen being transported by road, pulled by an 8-wheel drive 'Goliath' tractor and pushed by 3 more.
Stafford is also home to the computing and IT campus of Staffordshire University, the main campus is in Stoke on Trent.
Stafford has many attractions. The town's oldest building is the church of St Chad, dating from the 12th century. Built in the late-Norman style, the church in noted for its magnificent arches and arcades.
In Greengate Street, Stafford's main shopping area, stands the Ancient High House. This building, built in 1595, is the largest timber-framed town house in England. The Ancient High House is a museum with regularly changing exhibitions.
The Shire Hall Gallery, in the Market Square, hosts contemporary art exhibitions and visitors can also view the historic courtroom.
Beside the River Trent stands Victoria Park, opened in 1908.
Near Stafford, just over the border in Shropshire, is Weston Park, and you can also visit Shugborough Mansion and Estate
Stafford Castle Discover the history of this important castle.
Shire Hall Gallery Enjoy one of the exhibitions that are held in this historic building.
Ancient High House Take a look at the museum and gallery here in this historic house.
Sandon Hall The mansion is the ancestral home of the Earls of Harrowby. Rebuilt in neo-Jacobean style in 1854 and set in 50 acres of landscaped gardens surrounded by 400 acres of parkland.
Shugborough A working historic working estate with a mansion.
Izaak Walton's Cottage Visit the home of this famous author.
Towns Near Stafford To Visit - straight line distance:Penkridge (5.71 miles) Rugeley (8.24 miles) Hednesford (8.40 miles) Cannock (8.94 miles)