Discover our Past
Ancient Capital of Mercia
In the 6th century, the Anglo-Saxons
came to Staffordshire.
The Mercians gradually conquered most
of the other Midland tribes to become a powerful kingdom.
Tamworth was the heartland of the
Mercian Kingdom which had a royal church at Repton, a religious
centre at Lichfield and the King’s main residence at Tamworth.
It is believed there was a royal place
in Tamworth, close to St. Editha’s Church. Evidence from signed
charters shows that the Mercian Royal families stayed at Tamworth
far more than their other palaces and were regularly here for the
festivals of Christmas and Easter between 751 and 857 A.D.
Mercia continues to herald its
importance with the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, which
appears to date from around 590 A.D. to 750 A.D. We may never know
why it was buried or who it belonged to, but hopefully in time
it will unlock some of the secrets of the Saxon age, and
Tamworth Castle is our
number one heritage attraction. Six wealthy and influential
families have owned the Castle over the centuries. The Medieval
motte and bailey castle has welcomed royal visits from King Henry
II, Edward III, James I and his son Prince Charles. The
ancient sandstone tower and shell keep still dominate views of
St Editha's Church
The Parish Church of St Editha is one
of the largest and oldest churches in the Midlands. It dates back
to Saxon times when Tamworth was the capital of the Kingdom of
St Editha’s is believed to have been
built under the guidance of Robert de Marmion, the King's Champion
and Lord of Tamworth Castle.
The church has a magnificent double
spiral staircase, a very rare example in which two flights of
stairs wind one above the other around the same central post. St
Editha’s also has a unique stained glass window designed by the
world-renowned pre- Raphaelite Sir Edward Burne-Jones.
Built in 1701 and funded by Thomas
Guy, the Town Hall stands in Market Street. The original design
consisted of a single room supported by 18 Tuscan style stone
pillars. A decorative exterior staircase on the east side gave
access to the first floor room, which also served as a platform for
public events and announcements. In 1771 the exterior steps were
demolished and two rooms were added to the rear on the east side.
In 1811 these were replaced by two larger rooms funded in part by
the first Sir Robert Peel.
The area beneath the hall served as
the Butter Market and later housed the town’s first fire engine.
The turret in the centre of the roof was another later addition to
the building. The domed cupola with ornate iron weathervane once
housed a lantern and also contained a bell to summon firemen.
The clock on the front of the Town
Hall was presented to the town by the then owner of Tamworth
Castle, John Robbins, in 1812. The Town Hall is still used today
for civic events and some council meetings and is open to the
public during the National Heritage Open Day event.
Built in 1678 and funded by Thomas
Guy, the Almshouses originally provided housing for seven poor
women. Each resident had their own entrance and living room and the
large central garden was used to cultivate vegetables. The
facilities also included a large library that housed the books of
Reverend John Rawletts. In 1692 the Almshouses were extended to
allow men as well as women to take advantage of the facilities.
The original Almshouses stood for 234
years, before being demolished in 1912. They were rebuilt on the
same site in the ‘Free Georgian’ architectural style of the
After being rejected as MP for
Tamworth in 1708, Guy banned the residents of Tamworth from the
Almshouses. Those able to benefit from the Almshouses were
restricted to his own relatives and people living in the outlying
villages. This restriction is still in place today, with the stone
plaque above the main entrance reading ‘Guy’s Almshouses for
relations and Hamleteers’.
Tamworth Assembly Rooms
Built in Corporation Street in 1887 to
commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the building cost
£5,500 and was built in the Italianate style.
During the General Strike of 1926, a
soup kitchen was set up but throughout the decade concerts and
operatic shows filled the hall until, again, the music changed to
solemn hymns and whistles when the Jarrow Marchers stopped here for
food and rest on their way from the stricken north to Westminster
At the start of the Second World
War in 1939, the building was used for Civil Defence. Shannon’s
girls from the local mill packed respirators for distribution by
the WVS and the Supper Room (now the bar area) became the Report
In the 1950s the Assembly Rooms
witnessed the rise of rock and roll and hosted many of the bands
which are household names today. The Beatles played to a sell-out
audience as did The Rolling Stones.
The Moat House
This 16th century building was once
the home of the Comberford family. Young Prince Charles, later
Charles I, was entertained here in 1619 while his father King James
I stayed at Tamworth Castle. In 1815 the building was the venue for
a lunatic asylum and presently serves as a public house and
Sir Robert Peel
Born on 5 February 1788 at Chamber
Hall near Bury in Lancashire, he was the eldest son and third of
eleven children born to Robert Peel (the first Baronet) and Ellen
Originally the Peels were Lancashire
weavers and farmers but had moved into textile manufacture and made
their fortune. In 1798 the family moved to Drayton Manor. Tamworth.
Between 1800 and 1804, Peel attended Harrow and was then admitted
as a gentleman-commoner to Christ Church Oxford, where he was
awarded a double First in Mathematics and Physics in 1808. He began
a career in law but later moved into his parliamentary career that
lasted until his death.
He became MP in 1809 and became Home
Secretary in 1822. He was twice Prime Minister, in 1834-35 and
again in 1841-46. He is best remembered for his ‘Tamworth
Manifesto’, the Corn Laws and the Repeal Act and as the founder of
the modern Police Force in 1829. Police are
still affectionately called ‘Bobbies’ - derived from his
Peel has been seen as both the founder
and betrayer of the Conservative Party and also the real founder of
the Liberal Party. He died in 1850 following a fall from his horse
on Constitution Hill, London. He is buried at the small parish
church at Drayton.
Born in 1644 in Southwark, South-East
London, his father, Thomas Guy Senior was a Lighterman, Coalmonger
and Carpenter with a wharf on the banks of the river Thames, his
mother, Ann Vaughton, originated from Tamworth.
Following his father's death in 1652,
Guy's mother returned the family to her home town of Tamworth. Guy
was educated at Tamworth’s Free Grammar School that stood on Lower
At the age of 16, he was apprenticed
to John Clark, a bookbinder in London. Following his
apprenticeship, Guy set up as a successful bookseller and
publisher. In 1677 Guy paid for the refurbishment of
Tamworth’s Free Grammar School. In 1678 he bought land opposite the
school and built the Almshouses. He also funded the building of the
Town Hall in 1701.
Guy was elected to Parliament in 1695
and served the town as MP until 1707. When the people of Tamworth
failed to re-elect him, angry at their ingratitude, he threatened
to demolish the Town Hall and banned Tamworth people from his
Rejecting Tamworth, he turned his
attention back to London where he personally financed the building
of Guy’s Hospital, Southwark in 1722. Guy died at home on December
27, 1724 after visiting the building site. He never got to see the
project completed. He left his fortune to Guy’s Hospital, which
opened in 1725.
The daughter of King Alfred the Great,
she became known as the Lady of the Mercians. In 913 with her
Mercians, she marched to Tamworth, and at the junction of the
Tame and the Anker established a fortification, known today as
Her death in 920 in Tamworth resulted
in Mercia being merged into Wessex. Aethelflaeda had trained her
nephew, Athelstan, in the arts of war and kingship,. He succeeded
to the throne of Wessex upon the death of his father, Edward the
Elder, where he continued to wage war against the Danes and again
made Tamworth a royal seat.
The Aethelflaeda Monument stands today at the foot of Tamworth
Castle just through the Gatehouse.
The sister of Athelstan married the
Danish leader Sihtric, King of Northumbria, in 925. Sihtric soon
broke his Christian vows and relapsed into paganism, deserting
Editha. War continued and was ended temporarily upon the death of
Sihtric a year later, Editha retired into a convent, she founded
close to the Palace where she had reigned as bride.
Able Seaman Colin Grazier's brave
actions shortened the Second World War by as much as two years.
Until recently this bravery remained virtually unknown and
He was serving on HMS Petard when in
October 1942, he and fellow seaman Lt Anthony Fasson lost their
lives retrieving vital German codebooks from a sinking U-boat. The
third sailor, Tommy Brown, survived the war, but died in a
house fire while still a teenager.
It was the precious documents they
seized which enabled Bletchley Park’s code breakers to crack the
Enigma codes. Now recognised as a pivotal moment in world history,
the mission was cloaked in secrecy for decades. Not even their
families could be told they had paved the way for peace.
Colin Grazier was born in Tamworth and married only days before
he left to go to sea. A memorial to the bravery of the three seamen
now stands in St Editha’s Square.