The Etymology of the Name Beaudesert

The place-name Beaudesert is fairly modern in origin, being first coined in the late-16th century from the French for 'the beautiful wilderness', which quite aptly fits this tranquil spot in the Staffordshire countryside.

Stone- and Bronze-Age Beaudesert (c.10,000 - 700B.C.)

There is no recorded prehistoric archaeology in the area of Beaudesert.

Iron-Age Beaudesert (c.800B.C. - A.D.43)

This period is represented by the earthwork remains of the largest multivallate hillfort in Staffordshire, Castle Ring, which is situated at the highest point on Cannock Chase on the south-western edge of Beaudesert Old Park.

Roman and Anglo-Saxon Beaudesert (A.D.43 - 1066)

There is no known archaeology in the area of Beaudesert which belongs to this period in history.

Medieval Beaudesert (A.D.1066 - 1540)

There was an early-Medieval hermitage about ¾-mile south of the hillfort at Radmore, which, in 1143, became the site of a short-lived Cistercian monastery abandoned after less than a dozen years of tenure by the monks in favour of another abbey at Stoneleigh in Herefordshire? A couple of years later in 1157-8 the site was again re-used, this time to build a royal hunting lodge for King Henry II which later became the private hunting lodge of the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. Beaudesert Old Park was originally designated as a deer-hunting park for the Bishop probably sometime during the late-12th century. The remains of another hunting lodge located within the defences of the Castle Ring hillfort were investigated by antiquarians in 1863 and although the excavation report has never been published the building is thought to date to the late-12th or early-13th centuries, possibly being built to the specifications of the Bishop in order to accommodate his specialised retinue of clerics and clergymen. (AHDS)

Post-Medieval Beaudesert (A.D.1540 - 1901)

There are a number of notable post-Medieval buildings in the immediate area of Beaudesert; at nearby Upper Longdon, the structure of Longdon Hall (SK 066126) was probably built within the confines of an earlier Medieval moat at sometime during the 17th- or 18th-centuries. Also in Longdon the site of a post-Medieval windmill perhaps dating to the 17th century is preserved in the name of Windmill Farm (SK 067148), and the remains of an 18th-century tower windmill may be seen at Gentleshaw (SK 050118). (AHDS)

Beaudesert Hall

The country house of Beaudesert Hall (SK 054133) was first built in the late-15th century of local ashlar sandstone but this original building was almost completely demolished during extensive remodelling undertaken around the turn of the 17th century. The second hall, built of locally-produced red brick with ashlar quoins and dressings underwent further alterations in the 19th century and was eventually demolished in 1932 when the Marquis finally moved his family to Anglesey in North Wales. The Old Kitchen Gardens on the site of Beaudesert Hall were assessed by the Staffordshire County Council Planning Department in 1992 to determine the history and layout of the working gardens which provided herbs and local produce for the Hall's original kitchens. A research report by C. Welch entitled Old Kitchen Garden, Beaudesert, Longdon was published by Staffordshire County Council in 1993. (AHDS)

Beaudesert Old Park Pits (c.15th - 19th C.)

Rock strata dating to the carboniferous period lie exposed at the surface in Beaudesert Old Park on Brindley Heath and this area has seen prospecting for coal since at least early-Medieval times. The surface measures continued to be extracted from this area of the Chase until they were depleted about the time of Queen Elizabeth I, but shallow extraction continued by use of 'bell pits' and 'drifting' almost without change from the 15th to the 19th centuries; the circular depressions of many Bell Pits and other earthworks produced during these mining operations may still be seen in the area just south of a small stream named Mutchill's Gutter in the north-eastern part of Beaudesert Old Park (SK 042139), also in Swenkham Covert just north of Startley Lane (SK 047145), to the immediate west of Upper Longdon. The Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield had a coal-mine somewhere in the manor of Longdon in 1306. This was probably situated in Beaudesert Old Park where there was a sea-coal mine recorded in 1367 and another two by the 1440's, one of which was situated 'subter castrum' which would seem to indicate that it's workings extended beneath the Castle Ring hillfort. In 1543 the coalpits on the Cannock Chase and in Beaudesert Old Park were all operating under lease from the two major landowners, the former by the Crown in the person of King Henry VIII, and latter by the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. But, following Henry's 'Dissolution of the Monasteries', his dispossession and redistribution of properties held by the Catholic Church caused the ownership of Beaudesert Old Park to pass in 1546 from the hands of the Bishop into those of the Paget family who, by the early 1560's had bought-up the licences and managed all of the pits in the park themselves, thereafter maintaining a tight control over all mining operations conducted on their lands. ... James Brindley was commissioned by Lord Paget in 1771 to survey the Beaudesert Old Park Estate and to plan the route of a canal linking the Paget's mines at Brereton with the Grand Union Canal, but the celebrated engineer died shortly after completing the survey and nothing more came of the project. (VCHS; OS; AHDS)

Modern Beaudesert (A.D.1901 - Present day)

... (AHDS)


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Bibliography

Staffordshire Place-Names including The Black Country by Anthony Poulton-Smith (Countryside, Berkshire, 1995);
Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills (Oxford, 2nd Ed. 1998);
The Landscape of Place-Names by Margaret Gelling & Ann Cole (Shaun Tyas, Stamford, 2000);

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