Shop front in the summer

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Real England is just beyond the towpath - PART 2

Following on from Part 1, today we travel further south on the Shroppie to explore the villages of Wheaton Aston and Brewood.

Wheaton Aston is the next stop from Gnosall going south, where you meet the last lock on the Shroppie, apart from the stop lock where it meets the Staffs and Worcs. There is a pub by the canal but it is worth a stroll into the village where you can find a couple of good convenience stores, more pubs, a restaurant and a lovely church on the village green.

Saint Mary's church, Wheaton Aston.

On your way back stop off at the farm on your right hand side to buy some free range eggs laid by the chickens you will see scraping away in the field opposite the water point.

There are buses into Stafford and Penkridge and mooring there on a Saturday or a Wednesday allows a bus journey to the market at Penkridge.

Wheaton Aston, rather like Nantwich at the Northern end of the canal and, of course, London had its own Great Fire in 1777, which burned down over half of the village. Up to the 18th Century, Wheaton Aston was regarded as something of a spa due to the existence of a mineral spring in one of the gardens.

Finally the village is the most northerly point in the UK where the Snake's Head Fritillary can be found growing in the wild. Locally the flower is known by the name 'Folfallarum'. On the first Sunday in May the villagers used to go out and pick the flowers, which become an unofficial emblem, used on things like the local school uniforms.

Wheaton Aston has a music festival, the Wheaton Aston Festival. This has been run for 9 years by locals Hilary Holton and Julian Badcock. Now in its 10th year the festival will continue under the reign of Sian Morgan. The same mix of artist will be available, including favourites like 3 Daft Monkeys and Keith Donnelly.

We now travel through Wheaton Aston lock and further south on the Shroppie to visit Brewood, pronounced Brood which is the last of our favourite villages travelling south. Beyond this is Wolverhampton, although you would never guess how close it is from the village itself.

Brewood looks and feels like a classic English village as you walk up from the canal moorings in a wooded cutting.

Ancient timber-framed houses lead you into a village square where local pubs and shops offer everything you would have expected before the supermarkets took over our lives. There are two convenience stores but there is also a proper greengrocer and an excellent butcher who makes his own faggots and will get you almost any cut of meat you can remember.

Looking south along the visitor moorings at Brewood.

Although this is a commuter village it is very active with an active music tradition that leads to music festivals every couple of years. According to its Wikipedia entry the village ‘is something of a mecca for seventies music: Roy Wood of Wizzard educated his daughter Holly Wood at a nearby school and Jim Lea of Slade lives on the outskirts and sent his daughter to St Dominic's High School for Girls.’


  1. I like how the village is in a rural setting although there is a considerable buffer of modern housing around the Conservation Area, particularly to the north and west.

  2. A small village with a big community spirit, Wheaton Aston is a beautiful place to live and visit, famous for its high quality hay and wheat that was once transported on an extensive canal system. Very interesting!