The 17th century arrived and so did the coaching age. Uttoxeter found itself strategically located on a major new route of the day between Derby and Newcastle in northwest Staffordshire. The town became a minor coaching centre and convenient staging post for coaches from Manchester enroute to Birmingham and London.
As a result several coaching inns sprang up in the town. The Cross Keys on High Street is now a real-estate agent and the Red Lion in the Market Place was turned into a bathroom and tile store.
The survivors of this age are The White Hart Hotel in Carter Street and The Old Star in Queen Street. Both still serve excellent ale and good food. Open during usual licensing hours.
Uttoxeter Racecourse opened in 1908 on the Old Town Meadows next to the railway station and a half-mile from the town centre. Land at the track by helicopter, prior arrangement only, or fly into the nearby Tatenhill aerodrome in your light aircraft.
A day out at the races can be great fun especially if you don't lose any money and even more so if you win some. It's an opportunity to dress up and feel comfortable in secure surroundings, and its female friendly. Unlike, football or rugby you are not confined to a seat for the duration of the event.
Twenty-two events, known as fixtures, are spread evenly throughout the year. Events take place every month and the total prize money for 2004 stands at over GBP1million.
National Hunt racing is held in the spring, evening meetings are held right through the summer and the glorious autumn race days make a great time for all. There is a restaurant and events last approximately five hours spread over several races.
Feature events include the Singer & Friedlander National Trial, the John Smith's Midlands Grand National and the Britannia Building Society English Summer National.
Experience the glamour of Ladies Night. Fun on the Irish Night and the entertainment at the Saturday Night May Ball. Don't forget the atmosphere of the festive celebrations at Christmas.
They say love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. Well you can get married overlooking the racecourse and surrounding countryside. The Staffordshire Stand can accommodate up to 90 guests and a civil wedding ceremony excluding Registrar fees will cost around US$1100.
You can organise a reception that will include a fully staffed bar service with licence extension. Stage, dance floor and PA system can be also be provided.
Room hire and a buffet or formal dining menu package can be tailored to make your wedding unique. Photographers, florists, evening entertainment and private marquees can be arranged.
All suites have access to disabled facilities.
The timber-framed building is situated downtown on Carter Street and dates back to the early 17th century. It was restored by the Uttoxeter Town Council and transformed into a Heritage Centre and Tourist Office.
Inside the wood beamed ceiling and stone floor rooms the centre features changing displays to reflect aspects of the town's history and is used by students for research. Visitors and genealogists who wish to trace their ancestors also frequent it.
Complete with Edwardian shop front, Victorian bedroom, and book and gift shop and courtyard garden. The shop stocks books, local travel and what's-on guides, maps, souvenirs and postcards. Guide dogs are accepted and wheelchair ramps are available.
The Heritage Centre and the adjoining properties were the first beneficiaries of a County Council award for building conservation in September 1988.
Looking further along, the cream coloured building is the White Hart Hotel, a 17th century coaching inn. Directly across the street is the United Reformed Church, which is celebrating its 220th anniversary in July 2005.
Dr. Samuel Johnson was perhaps the greatest writer of the 18th c and best known for compiling the first English Dictionary. Born in Lichfield on Sept 18th 1709 in a house, which is now the Johnson Museum in the Market Square at Lichfield. His father Michael Johnson (1656-1731) was a bookseller and magistrate of Lichfield.
As a child Samuels's physical, intellectual and moral peculiarities were plainly noticeable. Physically he was strong but very clumsy and suffered with ill health. Emotionally he had a morbid tendency to laziness and procrastination. While he had a kind and generous heart he also had a gloomy and irritable temper.
After a creditable education at Lichfield Grammar School, he worked for his father who was struggling to make ends meet by taking his books to market stalls in nearby towns. Samuel spent most of his time reading and became so well acquainted with the contents of the books that the country rectors of Staffordshire and Worcestershire thought him to be an oracle on points of learning.
His Doctorate was given to him in 1765 by Trinity College, Dublin, and a Master of Arts degree by Oxford University in 1765. Dr. Johnson married a widow, Mrs Elizabeth Porter, in 1735 and they had a daughter, Lucy.
After failing to gain enough students for his own boarding school, he took off for London to seek fame and fortune. Life was a struggle and it wasn't until 1762, after his wife and mother had died that King George III gave him a pension of GBP300 a year.
As a boy he refused to attend his fathers stall at Uttoxeter's market. In his 70s just before he died in 1784, struck by pangs of guilt he made amends and came to Uttoxeter standing for hours bareheaded in the pouring rain as a penance.
This event is commemorated each year and by the plaques on the circular stone building in the centre of the square. It formerly housed a weighing machine but is now used as a newspaper kiosk. Built in 1854 it's possibly the smallest shop in England!
Uttoxeter can trace its history back to before Saxon times. Its long history apart from the uneasy times during the Civil War has been that of a busy market town. Unfortunately the severe fires in the 16th and 17th centuries removed some considerable evidence of those early times.
The market place was the financial strength of the town. It was during the medieval period that the downtown area took on the layout it still has today, to some extent, with timbered houses and workshops spread around the market place and the church. Some buildings have survived!
When Charles 1st arrived in Uttoxeter in 1642 a lobby of prominent townspeople urged him to go for a peaceful settlement with Parliament because they were concerned that the conflict would ruin local business.
During the Civil War both aggressive forces regarded Uttoxeter as a source of income, food and supplies for their armies, which occupied the town. For a brief period the King's Ordinance was housed here. Later large detachments of the Parliamentary Army camped at The Heath and The Town Meadows, roughly where the racecourse is today.
The town appears to have changed loyalties several times, with a majority leaning towards Parliamentarian support. However, it was during its last stand in the Royalist camp in 1648 that an event happened that should have made the town famous.
After a crushing defeat at Preston the Royalist Marquis of Hamilton retreated to Uttoxeter with the ragged remains of a once 20,000 strong Scottish army with which he had hoped to overpower Cromwell and return the country to a peaceful monarchy.
General John Lambert for the Parliamentarians met Hamilton but the battle of Uttoxeter never took place. Instead the Royalists surrendered, some were locked up in the Church. Others were imprisoned elsewhere.
The last dying remains of the Royalist army had capitulated in the market place right here in Uttoxeter, at this very spot you see in the photo, and with it saw the close of the English Civil War.
The prominent landmark, it can be seen for miles, in Uttoxeter is the Church spire. Designed by Roger de Yevele, a Derbyshire born mason, whose son Henry built the eastern end of Westminster Abbey. Dating back to around 1327 this is the oldest structure still in existence in Uttoxeter.
On leaving St. Mary's churchyard you face the War Memorial in honour of Uttoxeter's men and women who gave their lives in active combat during World War II (1939-1945). It stands on a site once called Bear Hill, which is where the town stocks and pillory once stood.
The ex serviceman's Bradley House Club is just five minutes away close to the bus station on Bradley Street. They serve a variety of beers and meals at reasonable prices. Open licensing hours.
St Mary the Virgin Parish Church dominates the market place but is difficult to photograph because of its tall spire and the narrow streets that surround it. A great deal of the church was re-built between 1826 and 1828 replacing an earlier medieval structure dating back to the 1251.
After construction started remains were reported predetermining the existence of an earlier church 'circa' 828. The overlapping tracery of the west window dates back to the 14th century.
The plain west tower with its spire added later, is probably the work of Henry Yevele, father of the more famous Yevele, architect of Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, the most distinguished of England's medieval builders.
Yeaveley is a small village near Ashbourne, about 9 miles from here, which is where his family most probably came from.
Adding some interest to a rather austere interior and surviving from the earlier church underneath the west tower are two alabaster table tombs lying underneath the west tower arch with a notice giving details.
They commemorate Sir Thomas Kynnersley, who died in 1505 and Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Hussey, of the neighbouring village of Kings Bromley, his 3rd wife who died in 1523.
The tombs were removed from their original positions when the church was re built. It's interesting to note that Elizabeth's tomb had to be shortened by removing the feet so that it would fit under a staircase.
The Kynnersley family later restored it in 1889. The tomb is open at the back and has beneath an effigy of a skeleton to show the subject in life and death. Sir Thomas Kynnersley has his image cut into the slab on the top instead of an effigy.
As you leave the Market Place and turn into Market Street, notice the building on the left. This was where Henry Bamford (JCB) established his first ironmongers shop in 1845. Today it's a furniture store and JCB world headquarters are located about four miles out of town.
On the right, check out the front of Sargeants butchers shop and its timber frame construction. Until a few years ago this was hidden behind a Victorian brick camouflage, but careful restoration work has revealed the original character of the building and it now gives us a brief taste of the medieval architecture of Uttoxeter.
Sargeants & Sons won an award from the Uttoxeter Civic Society for their restoration work on the premises and they serve up pretty good meat too. Next door is the Black Swan Pub.
Leaving the Church by the south door you enter the Churchyard. Notice the row of buildings, which border the Churchyard to the south. These were the dwellings of the Chantry Priests attached to the Church in Pre-Reformation times.