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Stone history comes to life: Heritage Open Days 2010

A group are shown the grounds of the former rectory at St Michael's Church

Some of Stone’s hidden history was brought to life this weekend during Heritage Open Days at St Michael and St Wulfad’s Church and Mosty Lea Water Mill.

St Michael's stained glass

St Michael’s opened its doors to visitors on Saturday and Sunday, who could have a look inside the beautiful church and its stained glass windows.

Also open was the mausoleum and, perhaps best of all, the former church rectory and its grounds, which is now a private residence.

The current St Michael’s Church was built in the 1750s after Stone Priory, which had been on the site since 670AD, collapsed. Much of the Priory’s stone was used to build the new church and a rectory was constructed over the Priory’s remaining vaulted crypt.

It was fascinating to see the remains of the Priory in the grounds of the former rectory. A pillar rising from the ground can be clearly seen.

All that remains of Stone Priory, which was established in Stone in 670AD

Many thanks to the owners of the former rectory, who agreed to open their home to enable visitors to see this fascinating slice of Stone’s history. This is exactly what Heritage Open Days are all about – allowing people the opportunity to see things they never would have done.

There’s a sense of hidden history about Mosty Lea Water Mill, in the Moddershall Valley, too, and it’s one of Stone’s best-kept secrets.

The beautiful walk to Mosty Lea

Visitors have to park at Kibblestone Scout Camp and walk about a mile through the beautiful Moddershall Valley and under the A520 Longton Road before arriving at the water mill.

There’s records of the mill from the early 18th century, although it’s thought to have been there a long time before that to grind corn. It went on to grind flint and bone for the pottery industry.

In fact, at one stage there were 11 mills in the Moddershall Valley all supplying the rapidly growing pottery industry.

Mosty Lea Water Mill in the Moddershall Valley - one of Stone's best-kept secrets

The mill is managed by a loyal band of volunteers, and one of them was giving superb guided tours during the Heritage Open Days. After it closed down in the 1960s the mill quickly fell into ruin. The volunteers are making sure that never happens again and that this historical gem is preserved for generations to come.

Some of the cogs inside Mosty Lea mill

The water wheel - about 21ft in diameter

There are lots more photos from this year’s Heritage Open Days on A Little Bit of Stone’s Flickr site here

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