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13 November 2014

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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > History > Local Heroes > Izaak Walton

Walton's statue on the River Sow in Stafford

Stafford born Author Izaak Walton

Izaak Walton

Born in 1593 in Stafford, Izaak Walton is famous throughout the world for his fishing book The Compleat Angler. It has since become one of the most loved and reprinted books in the English language.

Izaak Walton, author of the world-famous book The Compleat Angler, was born in Stafford in 1593. Leaving the town to serve an apprenticeship in London, Walton had his own business as a linen draper in the city by 1624.

However, he returned to Staffordshire for a while in his later life, and lived at Shallowford. You can visit the cottage he lived in, which is now maintained by Stafford Borough Council. Click on the link to find more details about The Izaak Walton Cottage.

Walton's literary career began with a biography of the famous poet John Donne in 1640. Izaak's aptitude for writing led to four more highly acclaimed biographies.

The series was interrupted by the turmoil of the Civil War. Walton, being a strong supporter of both the Anglican church and the Royalist cause, was forced to sell his business in 1644 and move from the Parliamentarian-controlled City of London to the quieter suburb of Clerkenwell.

Fame

It was in 1653 that Izaak wrote the book that was destined to become one of the most loved and reprinted books in the English language. The Compleat Angler is of course a book on fishing but it is also a window in to seventeenth-century country life.

Two years later Walton purchased Halfhead Farm in Shallowford, five miles from Stafford. This property remained in his possession for the rest of his life and today its half-timbered cottage serves as a museum commemorating its famous owner.

The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 brought new role for Izaak. Bishop George Morley appointed him as his steward initially at Worcester and later at Winchester. It was at Winchester that Walton died in 1683 at the great age of 90.

Walton

On the Dove

Although living elsewhere for some many years, Izaak Walton often rode back to his native county to visit friends. One was Charles Cotton of Beresford Dale on the banks of the River Dove in East Staffordshire. In fact Cotton was to earn his own share of immortality by penning a supplement on fly fishing for Walton's final edition of The Compleat Angler. (Article by Bruce Braithwaite)

Izaak Walton may be a seventeenth century writer from Staffordshire, best known for his love of angling, but he's also well-known in the USA - and an inspiration.
Roger Sears from the Izaak Walton League of America explains....

".... It is a great pleasure to respond to your invitation, asking why Izaak Walton should be considered great here in America, let alone in Staffordshire.

To give you a brief history on the formation of the Izaak Walton League, let me begin by noting that back in the winter of 1922, 54 angry men met to try and do something about the pollution that was destroying their fishing. The question arose as to what they should call themselves.

Walton's statue looks down the River Sow

Walton's statue looks down the River Sow

Dr. Preston Bradley, a preacher, having returned from fishing on the Dove River on the Staffordshire/Derby border, and giving a sermon in the Winchester Cathedral, suggested that a fitting name should be to honor Izaak Walton and his philosophy, and so the name was adopted.

Environmental concerns

This certainly was not a do-nothing organization located in Chicago, Illinois! They immediately fanned out both lecturing and writing on the subjects of clean water, protecting the environment and all natural our resources for future generations.

It wasn't long before many states came on line and the name was changed, once again, to the Izaak Walton League of America.

Since those early days the League has worked tirelessly from the local chapter level, to state, to national involvement to doing whatever it can to preserve what Walton stood for.

There are many land areas, rivers, and even the air we breathe that have been saved as a direct result of the League being in the forefront of the battles with those who would destroy for monetary gain.

When we testify in hearings, we are now 50,000 voices nation wide who site the ideals of Walton, still just as noteworthy as they were 400 years ago.

The Izaak Walton Cottage

The Izaak Walton Cottage

Stafford visits

I, personally, have the passion and fervor that I have led two trips to Walton land, from St. Mary's church, in Stafford, to the Dove, to the Winchester Cathedral searching for the legacy of Izaak Walton.

When I was informed by your Tony Bridgett, Izaak Walton historian, and our friend and mentor, that the Izaak Walton cottage was due to close, with it's contents dispersed, it was a challenge that I picked up and vowed to try and stop this from happening.

Izaak Walton's Museum - now saved?

I can now proudly state that with the full backing of the national Izaak Walton League, a brand new chapter, the Izaak Walton Cottage chapter, is being formed.

An endowment, under the control of the chapter, is being raised; and with the help of the Stafford Borough Council and other trusts and endowments, the closure of the cottage and museum will not take place.

So, should the public will always have the privilege to find out for themselves why Walton's legacy has lasted all these years? For all Izaak Walton League members here in America, there is no doubt that Izaak Walton should be considered GREAT! ...."
Roger C. Sears

Website of IWLA: http://www.izaakwaltoncottage.co.uk/

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last updated: 19/03/2009 at 08:25
created: 03/04/2006

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