We caught the bus from Penkridge but weren’t quite sure when we had arrived at Stafford, so I asked a lady who seemed to know the area well. We started off going up a little cobbled lane past the old Sheriffs Office and The Soup Kitchen, although they didn’t have any soup on their menu! It seemed expensive and there was a compulsory service charge of 15% too, so we gave that a miss.
This tiny thatched fruit shop had a date of 1610 and looked very tempting with it’s gorgeous displays of flowers. The Bear Grill was once an old coaching inn, but I suspect the food on their menu was more enjoyable than Bear Grylls ever eats on his TV expeditions.
From the alleyway we could see the splendid side High House, built in 1595 and reputed to be the largest timber framed house in the country. Unless you know different of course. Anyway it is now a museum with period room settings, a herb garden and a Staffordshire Yeomanry Regiment museum at the top floor. I had to wait to let about 50 school children come out before entering. As I was interested in the herb garden I asked where it was. The lady opened the back door and showed me the tiny bit that was left with a small box hedge and one or two bedraggled plants, so that didn’t take long!
There were some remains of the original old hand painted wallpaper on the stairs and educational rooms on how timber framed houses were built. The four poster bed in the Stuart Room was heavily carved. The tapestry wall hanging and hand stitchery on the bed coverings were amazing.
Mr Marsons Edwardian Shop had been splendidly recreated in one of the rooms. Notice that whoever set it up had a sense of humour as under his hand there are four candles! I also liked the carved sandstone on the archway of the Bank Passage.
Guess where we ended up? Yes it was a Wetherspoons in the old Picture House which was built in 1914 and had remained in use until 1995. All the original features remain, except that the seating had been replaced with tables and chairs. We liked the art nouveaux style stained glass along the frontage which probably looked brilliant when lit up at night.