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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Stoke and Staffordshire

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Stoke and Staffordshire
Ancient High House - The Elizabethan E

The Civil War effected many communities in the country including Stafford. The Sneyd family from Keele Hall near Newcastle-under-Lyme, who occupied the house throughout the 17th and 18th Century, were Royalist supporters.

Timber staircase
© Courtesy of Staffordshire Borough Council.
Captain Richard Sneyd was living at the house when Charles I and Prince Rupert stayed in 1642 at the start of the Civil War en route to Shrewsbury. His brother Ralph was killed in 1650 in the Isle of Man fighting for the Royalist cause.

Staffordshire, like many counties, wished to stay neutral throughout the Civil War, deploying troops to deal with any troubles from either side. Yet King Charles appointed local gentleman, William Comberford, as Governor of Stafford, alongside other Royalist supporters in fortifying the town.

Parliamentarians captured the town in May 1643, which remained under their control until the end of the Civil War in 1646.

Stuart period bed
© Courtesy of Staffordshire Borough Council.
From January 1644, the High House was used as a prison for the Royalist gentry, whilst the unlucky classes languished in the town jail. The High House prisoners had many luxuries including servants and visits from their wives. Yet, as news spread of their four-star treatment, some of these privileges were withdrawn.

By 1774, the House was split into two. In 1826, grocer John Marson bought the house for £2,500, creating three shops. To accommodate the shops, the doorway was moved to one side and the large stone chimneystack was tunnelled through to provide a passage to the stairs. The shops changed hands many times for different businesses, from an apothecary (pharmacist), to hairdressers.

The house is now occupied by the Staffordshire Yeomanry Museum. Many visitors go to see exhibits including pieces from the Civil War, yet also find a historic guide to Stafford seeping from the walls surrounding them.

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