Stumped

I had an email from Pat telling me there was a lump on the side of the A51, near to the junction with Abnalls Lane.  I assumed that it was an old tree stump, but Pat thinks it might be something more than that, and recalls seeing some stone there last year.

I went and had a closer look. Pat said in his comment on the Cross City post, the lump is covered in vegetation, but there is likely to be something solid underneath, as the grass is cut around it. I took a few photos and then the self -conciousness of being stood on a busy A-road taking photos of a grassy lump got the better of me and I headed back up Abnalls Lane.

So, does anyone else know anything about this, or do we just have to wait until the grass dies away in the Autumn to get a better look?!

In the meantime, it’s worth taking a trip up Abnalls Lane. In parts, it’s thought to be a holloway, and at times you’re surrounded by hedgerows, tree roots and sandstone, with carved names and dripping water.  It takes you past the site of one of Lichfield’s Scheduled Ancient Monuments – a moated site on the edge of Pipe Green and over the border into Burntwood.  It also passes nearby the site of Erasmus Darwin’s botanical garden, although unfortunately the site is not open to the public.

Spires of Lichfield from moated site at Abnalls Lane on the Lichfield/Burntwood Boundary

Interestingly, a section on Burntwood in the History of the County of  Stafford says that,

The road, now Abnalls Lane, was known as Pipe Lane at least between 1464 and 1683.  The point where it goes over the boundary was described in 1597 as ‘the place where the broken cross in Pipe Lane stood’; a ditch at Broken Cross was mentioned in 1467.

Is this one of the crosses already counted in Cross City, or a different one? 

Also, on the subject of research into stone things, at the end of Abnalls Lane, there are some interesting names – The Roche and Hobstonehill (according to the History of the County of Stafford, the placename ‘Hobbestone’ was mentioned in 1392).   

I think I need to spend my summer holidays at Lichfield Record Office.

Sources:

‘Townships: Burntwood’, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990), pp. 195-205. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42356  Date accessed: 27 July 2012.

 

Smoky Bacon

Why is Beacon St called Beacon St? Once upon a time it was known as Bacon St (or variations of this such as Bacunne). It’s suggested that at some point around the beginning of the 19thc, someone decided that Beacon St was a more fitting name.  It’s pure speculation on my part, but I wonder whether this name change had anything to do with the building of Beacon Place around 1800? The man who built the house was called George Hand. As there’s a cut of pork called ‘the Hand’, maybe he was keen to distance himself from all things porcine? As I said, mere speculation.

In books about Lichfield published at the beginning of the 1800s, both names are often given. One (1) gives the following description:-

Bacon or Beacon street anciently written Bakun or Bacun street, takes its name from a beacon placed upon the top of a tower which stood the Dean’s croft and adjoining field. It was the principal street of the town and was burnt down in 1646 at which time it was chiefly inhabited by cappers whose business was staple of the place

Beacon St Ward banner?

Is there any truth in this explanation? Or is a story, created to support the name change?  Is there any other evidence of an actual Beacon?  The above ward banner in the Guildhall surely relates to the Beacon St ward (although it’s another one where the name plaque is obscured). Alone it’s not evidence for the Beacon theory, although as I’ve mentioned before, I would be interested to see when/where the designs for these banners came from. There is a place in Lichfield called Dean’s Croft, but it’s near St Michaels, not Beacon St.

Thomas Harwood’s book (2) throws another explanation into the ring.

It is probable from the situation of Bacon street that name is an abbreviation from Barbican or Barbacane a word of Arabic original (sic). A barbacan is a sort of hold or fort for the security of the a munition placed in the front of a castle or an outwork.

In 1886, the William Salt Archaeology Society noted (3)’The present spelling of the name of this street is altogether unauthorised, and an innovation of this century. It is found spelt Bacon, Bacun, or Bacune uninterruptedly from the 13th to the 18th century’.

Likewise, I’m not convinced by the Beacon or Barbican theory….yet. As ever, would like to know what others think. I wonder what the good people of the Bacon Beacon Street Blog, think?

Edit 15/7/2012

Referring to the Beacon St area, the Collections for a History of Staffordshire Part II- Vol VI (1886) record that there is a reference to a Bacone’s Cross, along with a Swane Lane (now Shaw), Merliches Well, Poole Hall and Whitehall that I missed before.

Sources:

(1)A short account of the city and close of Lichfield by Thomas George Lomax, John Chappel Woodhouse, William Newling

(2) The history and antiquities of the church and city of Lichfield by Thomas Harwood

(3) Collections for a History of Staffordshire Part II- Vol VI (1886)