AETHELFLAED – and the beginning of Stafford

The town of Stafford began at the place where a road through marshes crosses the River Sow. Stafford means “the landing place at the ford.” A legend tells that a prince called Bertelin settled here on an island around 700AD before the town existed. (The town centre is almost an island, surrounded by river and marsh.) He may have been the same person as St Bertram of Ilam.

THE LADY OF THE MERCIANS

The town can trace its beginning to Aethelflaed, daughter of King Alfred. When her husband Aethelred of Mercia died in 911 she she became the Lady of the Mercians.

She came from a highly educated family and was a wise and strong ruler. She led the struggle to defeat the Danes who had conquered eastern England. She built defences at Stafford and other towns, and captured Derby from the Vikings in 917.She died in 918.

Though Tamworth had once been the capital of Mercia it was Stafford that became the county town when the Saxons created counties.

THE NORMANS

After the Norman Conquest Stafford was the scene of two rebellions. A Battle of Stafford was fought in 1069. Stafford Castle was built in 1090. The land of the rebel Edwin, Earl of Mercia, was given to King William’s supporters including Robert de Tosny, whose grand-daughter is said in some genealogies to have married Orm, the founder of St Chad’s.

The town had been devastated in the rebellions but began to grow again after 1100.