A Brief History of Our Village
We believe that Whittington was originally the site of an Iron Age/Romano-British farmstead. A small hoard site was discovered near Church Farm within the present day village, which included Saxon and Roman brooches, Roman coins and pottery of a similar date. The coins from the hoard date to the reign of Septimus Severus (193-211AD). There have been several other finds from this period in the surrounding area.
The place name of Whittington is Anglo-Saxon (500 - 1066 AD) in origin and derives from the Old English for estate or farm associated with a man called Hwta or Hwittingas.
Whittington was first recorded in documents of the late 12th century which points to an increased clearance of woodland for farmland following the Norman Conquest in 1066.
During the medieval period Whittington was surrounded by open fields of pasture, arable and meadowland which were divided into strips and the residents of the village would have held a number of these scattered across the landscape.
From the time of the Saxons until the reign of Henry VIII, the Bishops of Lichfield held the Manor of Longdon, which included Whittington. In 1546, the bishop was forced to surrender it to Sir William Paget, (later Lord Paget), one of the principal Secretaries of State to Henry VIII. Paget’s decendants remained the Lord of the Manor in Whittington until 1947, when the 7th Marquis of Anglesey sold off his Staffordshire estate in order to pay death duties.
There has been a church on the present site in Whittington since the 13th century, when worship was taken by the monks who walked over from the Friary at Lichfield. Most of the church was destroyed by fire in 1760, but parts of the tower are original.
Whittington Hall was built in the early Tudor period by the Everard family. Over the centuries the house passed through the hands of several families and the building which stands today was substantially remodled by Samuel Lipscombe Seckham in 1891, by which time it had become known as Whittington Old Hall. A second grand house was built nearby by Zachary Babington in 1673, which was demolished sometime during the 1830s. The Whittington Old Hall Estate covered many hundreds of acres, with several farms from Whittington to Fisherwick and Whittington Hurst. Freeford Estate, held by the Dyott family, included large parts of the village and surrounding farms. These estates were a major source of employment for generations of Whittonians.
In 1741 Sarah Neal left her house and croft in Whittington to start a school for poor children of the village. Funds were augmented when the Reverend Richard Levett died in 1802 leaving a legacy and in 1864 a handsome gothic building for a girls’ and infants’ school was built by Lieut.-Col. Dyott. Village children continued to be educated here until 1968 when a new school was built in Common Lane.
Whittington Heath, to the southeast of the village was formerly used as an open sheep walk. From 1702 it hosted the Lichfield Races, which became a hugely popular event in the horse racing calendar throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Construction of the Barracks for the Depots of the two Staffordshire Regiments began on the heath 1877. The war department purchased the land from the Marquis of Anglesey in 1881 and the racecourse was closed in 1895. A golf course was created on the heath in 1886 which began as a military golf course, but soon evolved into a popular civilian club. During the Second World War, Whittington Barracks was handed over to the US Army to serve as their 10th Replacement Depot.
Whittington remained a largely self-sufficient rural community up until the Second World War, although modernisation gathered pace in the 1920s with the arrival of mains water, sewerage, household waste collections, gas and electric lighting all taking place in this decade.
The large Spring Lane housing development in the early 1960s saw an influx of new people into the village, which initially met with some hostility from old Whittonians. This along with the adoption of mechanised farming practices and motorized transport from the 1950s onwards saw Whittington evolve into a commuter village, with most villagers working in nearby towns and cities.
In 1979 Reverend Paul Brothwell became concerned about the quality of care available in local hospitals to patients with terminal illnesses. St Giles Hospice was established in 1983 on the site of the old Vicarage, it has since grown to become a major institution for palliative care in the Midlands.
Whittington is today one of the most sought after places to live in Staffordshire, with a wide variety of community groups and activities, several shops, two village pubs and a popular Local Food & Craft Market. As well as the traditional Church Fete, the Parish Council organise an annual Countryside Fair with proceeds supporting village community groups and projects.
Whittington Old Hall after the restoration of 1891.
A church has stood on the present site in the village since the 13th Century.
The construction of the Barracks in the 1870s almost doubled the population of Whittington.
Village women and children helped bring in the potato harvest by hand into the 1960s.
© 2016 Whittington History Society