Stafford, Staffordshire: Jesus loses his head (twice), The Green Man flaunts his and a monkey wears his backwards

 

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On arrival at Stafford two ducks ran at me for food from underneath bushes in Victoria Park. The female was demented. She had a very short neck and squawked non stop from a beak that never closed. I left them harassing an old man on a bench for his ice cream.

The park is a treat and I got my obligatory bandstand shot.

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Stafford was saved from a Danish invasion in early 10th century thanks Ethelfleda, Lady of the Mercians and eldest daughter of Alfred the Great. The lady kept them out, aided by the fact the area was marshy land. A hundred years on, William the Conqueror knocked up a fort too far out of the town for me to walk to (it’s in ruins anyway). Then all went a bit quiet on the historic front until King Charles I stayed over at High House in the 17th century on route to Shrewsbury.

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Charles was decapitated in London for treason in 1649 for doing his utmost to rule without any interference from Parliament which lead to the first English civil war. Marrying a Catholic would not have helped gain him Proddy favour too. Here is a copy of his execution warrant. It was signed by John Bradshaw who later went onto become the MP for Stafford.

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I don’t have a good photo of Ancient High House because it was covered in scaffolding whilst some second floor balcony works are being undertaken, plus the sun was super bright but here goes so you have a rough idea of its Tudor beauty.

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High House is now the town’s museum. It has exceptionally wonky floors you couldn’t hope to thrash anyone at marbles on. There is such a disturbing force of energy in the Victoria Room and when I spoke to the assistants it transpired I was not alone in my feeling. One member of staff had adamantly refused to work in there. Something about the rocking chair activating itself.

My favourite part of the museum was the Garden of Eden carving above the headboard of the four poster bed. A crafty serpent to enhance your dream state.

They really do not want you to play this piano. Perhaps it is too old. Or perhaps they are tired of “Chopsticks”.

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The coat of arms presented to the town by the mayor in 1677. it is not often I get up close and personal with a unicorn’s willy.

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I ate a late breakfast at the Mad Hatters cafe which was a friendly place despite the manager’s angst at the central heating getting stuck on full during one the hottest days of the year. I sat by the open door, listened to him rant down the phone to the plumber for not coming sooner and saw off the Knave of Hearts Vegan Breakfast. I took a piece of lemon drizzle cake to go (their other vegan cake option is chocolate).

I ate my cake later on the lawn outside St Mary’s church (established early 13th century). I laughed to see a Japanese tourist attempt to take a photo of the church just as 3 obese ladies with sticks (and immaculate timing) flopped down onto the nearby bench with their walking sticks, obscuring his angle. They apologised but were in no position to shift ass for the guy.

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I then watched a criminal with a security tracker fixed to his ankle exhibiting admirable environmental responsibilities. He placed his family’s Macdonalds waste in the bin near the church (the obese ladies encouraged him to remove the lid to make the job easier). He shouted to his kids to get off the wooden war memorial, unfortunately not before they had managed to snap a chunk off it. His wife did not his respect since she had taken several photographs of the little darlings posing on top of it.

Inside the church I was in for a shock. There before me was a picture of Jesus thrashing people in the temple for using God’s gaff as a market.

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Let’s see that again up close. Our Lord was going equipped.

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My bible does not teach me Jesus used physical violence. I called the vicar over and asked the meaning of such window pane misinformation. “So much for “gentle Jesus meek and mild“” he said. And then blamed the illustration on Victorian artistic licence.

Moving around to the main stained glass I was further dismayed to note Jesus had lost his head again. A builder working on scaffolding outside had managed to trip and push an iron pole through the crucifixion image at the worst possible place. The vicar is still waiting on their insurance.

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One head on display, although not clearly is that of The Green Man. He is hidden way up high within the ceiling structure and I could not get a clear picture so here he is from the church leaflet.

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Nobody really knows why pagan Green Men appear in churches but a knowledgable spiritual friend once told me that early churches were originally used as pagan meeting places before Christians took them over which would make sense. They appear to remain there in a defiant “Up yours!” stance against the God fearing folk.

Here is an ancient monkey on the font doing a Linda Blair in the Exorcist impersonation. Hardly suitable for a baby’s baptism.

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The church also has Two Tongued Tom (I made that up), another pagan-esq fellow with his acorn like headgear guarding the end of a pew. Postscript: I since learned that they are not tongues, they are leaves. I saw a better image in a gothic shop 🙂

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The other ancient church in the town centre is St Chads. It is 12th century and the oldest building in Stafford.

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Here is the Chad himself resembling Rowan Atkinson.

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Here is a grimacing chap in the construction.

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And some fierce dragons.

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Stafford’s local radio station is transmitted from this 200 year old windmill known as “Broad Eye”. Windmill Radio has low overheads and so does not have to resort to those annoying rapidly gabbled advertisements for hemorrhoid cream other stations pay homage to.

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Before I headed for home I watched people pretend to be on holiday.

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