Stafford is a county town over 1000 years old, with a celebrated art gallery, great shopping, cafes, bars & restaurants and lovely open spaces. Stafford has really good rail and road links. The town is in central Staffordshire and gave its name to the county although it is not the largest town it has much to offer. Many attractions are available. The town is mainly pedestrianised and has a lively feel. Stafford Market has a large selection of stalls on Tuesday, Thursday Friday & Saturday. Farmers market for fresh local produce on the 2nd Saturday in every month in Market Square.
Places to see
Stafford Market & Farmers Markets
The Ancient High House - Four hundred years of history withing the walls England's largest timber framed town house. and its free admission.
Izaak Waltons Cottage - A thatched cottage formerly owned by the celebrated author.
Stafford Castle - Built by William the Conqueror, over 900 years old.
Shire Hall Gallery - The Historic Courtroom with exhibitions, crafts a lovely place to visit
St Chad Church
Sandon Hall - Stately Home of the Earl of Harrowby. With a museum and tours with a park to take a stroll.
Shugborough Estate - So much to see and do such as guided tours, a stunning mansion, servants quarters, brewery, water mill, local food fabulous setting. A fully working estate.
Amerton Farm and Craft Centre - Farmyard, shops, garden centre, gifts crafts, wildlife centre and much more.
Stafford Gatehouse Theatre - varied theatre arts programme
Stafford Leisure Centre
Riverside Recreation Centre with swimming and fitness
Stafford Show Ground
Stafford means 'ford' by a 'staithe' (landing place). The town's location was the only feasible place for a large army to cross the River Trent, and so was strategically important in the wider region. The original settlement was on an island in the middle of the marshes of the River Sow, a tributary of the Trent. There is still a large area of marshland just north of the town, which in 1947, 2000 and 2007 saw floods.
In the year 913 Stafford was fortified by Ethelfleda, Lady of Mercia and daughter of Alfred the Great, becoming the new capital of Mercia (the previous capital having been in or near Stone). Queen Ethelfleda ruled Mercia from Stafford for five years as Queen of Mercia, after the death of her father and husband - at around this time the county of Staffordshire was first formed. King Alfred's son Edward, with the crucial aid of Ethelfleda, finally conquered and Christianised the Vikings who had settled in the east of England.
Stafford Castle was built by the Normans on a nearby hilltop in 1070, four years after the invasion of 1066. It was first made of wood, and later rebuilt of stone. It has been rebuilt twice since, but now only 19th century ruins remain atop the impressive earthworks. Night-time illuminations create a landmark for motorists on the M6 motorway and train travellers on the West Coast Main Line. Stafford was considered part of the ancient Pyrehill hundred.
The oldest building in Stafford is St Chad's church.
Opened in 1908, Victoria Park is a 13 acre (53,000 m²) Edwardian riverside park with an open-air paddling pool, bowling green, bird cages, greenhouse and two play areas.
Stafford Gatehouse Theatre is the town's main entertainment and cultural venue. An Arts centre has also been planned for the town to offer more culture and try and boost tourism in the town.
In the main shopping street, Greengate Street, lies the Elizabethan Ancient High House, the largest timber-framed town house in England. The Ancient High House is now a museum, with changing exhibitions.
The Shire Hall Gallery, found in the very centre of Stafford town, houses the Art Gallery, which shows changing exhibitions. It also contains a cafe and the town's Library.
The Shire Hall used to be the Court House for the town, and as a Grade 2 listed building, still retains two courtrooms. One of these is open to the general public and has a permanent exhibition showing the history of the building, some high profile cases that were heard there and guided tours are available. Part of the tour includes an old 'holding cell' which is open to public viewing.
The Apollo Cinema shows most big-budget films and has three screens. A larger multiplex cinema, another shopping centre and offices are also planned to be built in the town centre along the River Sow. The Riverside Recreation Centre and former Tesco store/multi-storey car park would both be demolished as part of this development.
R.A.F Stafford is now being transformed into M.O.D Stafford, after the R.A.F left the Town.
Staffordshire University has a large campus in the town focusing heavily on computing and teaching courses.
77,900 new homes are expected to be built in greenfield areas of Staffordshire, with 12,900 expected to be built in Stafford.