Historic Outings in Cannock Chase

If you’re visiting Cannock, you can be sure to find plenty that’ll keep you and the family entertained.

If you’re visiting Cannock, you can be sure to find plenty that’ll keep you and the family entertained. One of the many things that makes this area so popular is the fact that it’s steeped in history. Within a stone’s throw of Cannock itself, there’s plenty to explore. Perhaps you’ve always thought that history is a bit on the boring side? If so, we’ve got some great suggestions for outings that you should really try. We’re sure that these will change your mind as well as being a great experience for those who are already fond of history.

The Museum of Cannock Chase

Let’s start in Cannock itself to appreciate what this town is all about. The museum is sited in what was once the location of the Valley Colliery. By taking the time to take in the information you can learn all about the area going back to its industrial roots, through to its military role, while also finding out about some of the many local famous faces. As part of this museum experience, which we forgot to mention is free of charge, you can enjoy the various galleries. These include the 1940s room, the interactive Toys and Games Gallery, the Miners Cottage Gallery, and the Coal Mining Gallery. The latter may provide a bit of a challenge as you crawl through mining tunnels and appreciate just how tough the miners had it. What may top this outing off for some is the fact that there is an outstanding coffee shop with a great selection of drinks and cakes.

Castle Ring

This site is perhaps one of the oldest in Cannock and the surrounding area. Dating back some 2,000 years, Castle Ring is the site of an Iron Age fort. Given just how old it is, not a great deal is known about its very earliest of uses. However, it’s believed that the site was occupied from around 50 AD and then abandoned following the Roman invasion. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the walks and scenery here are truly breath-taking. Even if you’re not very enthralled with the historical significance of the site, the views alone make a visit worthwhile. You can take in almost all of Cannock Chase as well as plenty of the county too.

Samuel Johnson’s house

This house is now a splendid museum that tells the tale of Johnson’s life. He was perhaps best known as the person behind the very first English Dictionary published back in 1755. The house is located in Lichfield (around 8 miles away from Cannock) and the city celebrates Johnson’s birthday every year. This makes the 18th of September a great time to visit. Inside the house, as well as exhibits, you will find that part of the house has been transformed to take you back in time. You get to see just how it would have looked when Johnson lived there himself. The ground floor also features a bookshop and we can’t think of anywhere better to buy a book from.

Boscobel House and the Royal Oak

It was back in 1651 that the future Charles II was defeated by the Parliamentarians. After losing at the Battle of Worcester, Charles was left facing a long and dangerous journey. He needed to head from the West Midlands and reach the South Coast. The journey saw Charles seeking plenty of hiding places en route. His first was here at this farmhouse in Cannock. It is now owned by and operated by English Heritage and is open to the public to tour.

There’s a real feeling of stepping back in time here. You can walk around the half-timbered lodge and take in the atmosphere. You can then move into what was a Victorian farmyard that is complete with historic machinery and tools. Perhaps the real highlight here is seeing exactly where Charles hid. He spent the night hidden away in a former priest’s hole as he feared for his life. This is a place that played a hugely significant part in the history of the UK as a whole.

Chasewater Railway

The west shore of Chasewater is home to a two-mile heritage railway. This railway once played a major role by serving the coalfields of Cannock Chase. The best time to visit here is either the weekend or during the school holidays. These are the times that trains run. They go from Brownhills station and Chasewater Heaths. After a brief stop at Norton Lakeside, the journey comes to an end at Chasetown Church Street.

You’ll notice that the majority of locomotives here were engineered for use in heavy industry. However, should you decide to take a ride you’ll find yourself travelling in a British Mark I coach that dates back to the middle of the century. As well as the railway itself, there is also a heritage centre here. This contains memorabilia that dates back 100 years or more. You don’t need to be a train buff to enjoy all that’s on offer here.

The Great War Hut

This provides one of the finest examples that shows just how we can preserve a piece of history. The hut was originally in one of the military camps that were built in Cannock Chase during World War I. There were two camps in total – Rugeley Camp and Brocton Camp. The work of over 100 men went into building these huts back in 1914. Troops actually moved into them in 1915. The huts were part of camps that houses 40,000 soldiers. They were to be home during the day, night, and even over Christmas. While staying in these huts in Cannock Chase, soldiers were trained in the likes of gas warfare, scouting, and musketry. This hut has been restored to show exactly how it would have looked in 1916. By taking steps to preserve this hut there is the chance to tell a story and educate the generations to come.