History of Stafford and Staffordshire

The Shire Horse pub restaurant is situated in historic Stafford - a town thought to have been founded in 700 AD by the Mercian prince, Bertelin, part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. However, there has been a settlement as far back as 900-700BC. It is believed Iron Age man made a home in the area to make the most of its rich mineral deposits and forests, and visitors can find much Iron Age as well as Roman evidence in Staffordshire.

In the early 10th century, the town was dominated by war against the invading Danes. It was Aethelflaed, daughter of King Alfred the Great, who successfully held back the Danes by fortifying the area, with help from the surrounding marshes and dry hills – the very marshes that gave Stafford its name – Staith Ford – meaning ‘ford’ by the ‘staithe’ – or landing place.

Perhaps the most famous evidence of the strategic importance of Staffordshire in Anglo-Saxon times is the remarkable discovery in 2009 of the Staffordshire Hoard - over 3,500 items of gold and silver metalwork uncovered in a field in the Staffordshire village of Hammerwich near Lichfield. The ancient market town of Stone, just 6 miles north of The Shire Horse on the banks of the River Trent, was once the capital of Anglo-Saxon Mercia.

The Norman invasion of 1066 left an indelible impression on Staffordshire. Almost 1,000 years on, there is still evidence of their occupation in the fortifications and places of worship they built.

Much later, in the 17th century, King Charles I visited Stafford, as did Prince Rupert. While the royalist Staffordians held off the parliamentary army for a while, it eventually fell in mid 1643 and John Bradshaw, the town’s parliament minister, presided over Charles I’s trial.

There are many historic sites to enjoy in Stafford. From the Ancient High House on Stafford’s main street, an Elizabethan house constructed in 1514 to Stafford Castle, a fine example of 19th century Gothic Revival.

Just 8 miles from The Shire Horse is the lovely country estate of Shugborough, with its grand 18th century mansion, walled garden and classical landscape peppered with monuments and follies, now managed by the National Trust. Shugborough stands on the edge of Cannock Chase, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covering 26 square miles of tranquil woodland walks, picturesque heathlands, cycle and rambling trails. The Heart of England Way and the Staffordshire Way pass through some of the Chase’s spectacular countryside.

After taking in the area’s vast, rich history and glorious countryside, you can enjoy traditional pub food in The Shire Horse. Whether you order a delicious Sunday roast or one of our freshly prepared specials with a fine wine or a glass of real ale, you’ll experience the perfect end to your day!


You’ll find The Shire Horse on the outskirts of Stafford situated just off the A34 1 mile from Junction 14 of the M6.