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Sir Walter Chetwynd of Ingestre Hall, the 17th-century politician and antiquary, was a friend of Sir Christopher Wren and a fellow member of the Royal Society. So when a drawing labelled ‘Mr Chetwynd’s tower’ turned up among Wren’s papers, it began to seem fairly certain that this fine church of the 1670s was indeed the work of the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral. The quality of the interior at Ingestre, such as the carved screen and the exquisite plaster ceilings, is certainly worthy of a building designed by a master. The richly carved pulpit and tester are by the renowned Dutch-born wood-carver Grinling Gibbons, and carry his peapods motif. The Chetwynd coat of arms sits above the door; several family tombs and monuments are in the church.

St Mary
Ingestre

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Discover Staffordshire

It was Staffordshire that bore the brunt of the largest non-nuclear explosion of World War II, when a munitions dump at RAF Fauld went up in 1944. It was also the county’s regiment that once boasted within its ranks the most decorated NCO of World War I, in the person of William Coltman (1891-1974). Going back a little further, George Handel penned his world-famous masterpiece The Messiah on Staffordshire soil. During another chapter of Staffordshire history, the county was home to the first canals and the first factory in Britain, and it had front-row seats for the drama surrounding one of the most notorious murder trials of the 19th century, that of Doctor William Palmer.

In outline, Staffordshire looks not unlike the profile of a man giving Leicestershire a big kiss. The man’s forehead is arguably the best region for hillwalking, as it comprises a significant chunk of the Peak District. This area is characterised by lofty moors, deep dales and tremendous views of both. Further south are the six sprawling towns that make up Stoke-on-Trent, which historically have had such an impact on Staffordshire’s fortunes, not to mention its culture and countryside. This is pottery country, formerly at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and the driving force behind a network of canals that still criss-cross the county.

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