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Continuing with the theme of an earlier post, here are a few more stories of woe from Hopwas Woods spanning six  centuries.

From Dyott’s Diary, dated january 1834:

An atrocious poaching case occurred in Tom Levett’s wood at Hopwas Hays. His keepers were on the look-out, and at two o’clock in the night of Sunday they fell in with six men, three of them armed with guns. One of the keepers in pursuit of a poacher had a miraculous escape. The fellow, finding he was likely to be taken, turned round, levelled his gun and fired. The muzzle of the gun was so close to the keeper that his neck handkerchief was blackened by the powder, and his jacket near the collar singed. A slug was discovered in the jacket, and his shoulder, or rather collar-bone, grazed. The rascal made his escape. Three of the poachers were taken and brought before me, and committed for trial.

With the title portrait of the Rev. Thomas Levett and Favourite Dogs, Cock-shooting painted by the Romantic period painter James Ward in 1811. This is a depiction of  the owner of Hopwas Woods, protagonist of the two Dyott diary stories, and avid hunter. His residence was nearby Packington Hall, could the woods in the painting be Hopwas Woods?

From Dyotts diary, dated august, 1834:

A human skeleton was discovered in Hopwas Hays by some labourers getting stone near the bank of the canal. From appearance it was conjectured to have been in the ground twenty years. A report was in circulation that a man had been murdered near the spot about that time, and that the supposed murderer had died about a year ago, but nothing authentick could be traced. Tom Levett’s man came to ask my advice what was to be done, as his master was out of the county. Knowing that Tom Levett would be naturally anxious to have proper steps taken as to Coroner’s Inquest, etc., in consequence of the Hays being 1834 extra-parochial, I caused the circumstance and particulars to be communicated to the coroner, and to have his opinion as to an inquest. He decided that as there was no evidence to inquire into, he saw no necessity for holding an inquest. The mouldering remains were therefore conveyed to the bone-house in Tamworth Church, and there deposited.
There is a disused quarry on the woodland side next to the bank of the canal which is a good candidate for the quarry mentioned in the story above

This is a story taken from Simonsplaces findings in the Herald archives, it tells the story behind the name of Knox grave lane in Hopwas:
In the latter part of the 18th century a little known young Highwayman called Knox( his first name is not known) lived in Hopwas. He came from a farm labourers cottage from very poor parents. He would lie in wait in the country lanes for the solitary traveler returning home late at night from a local inn and hit him from behind with a heavy cudgel. One story is that he lived a hermit-like existence in a cave in Hopwas Woods.

One dark night he had robbed a traveler of pistol, powder and shot and two nights later he stepped out of the bushes to hold up a coach. When the coach halted and Knox demanded the mailbox, out came for Army Officers returning from leave. In his panic to escape Knox failed to fire the pistol and he was captured, tried and hanged within three days. His parents retrieved the body and are believed to have buried it in the lane close to their cottage.


Plea rolls for Staffordshire-18, Edward II(1284-1327) from British History Online

….Hugh de Attelbergh, who stated on their oath that on the Tuesday before the Feast of St. Peter ad Vincula, during the night, one Roger de Wetewode was passing near the Haye of Hope was, by a certain path leading to the vill of Hope was, and the said William le Lou stopped him in the vill of Hopewas, and wished to attach him because he had passed by night through the forest, and a dispute being thus raised between them one Roger son of Roger de Swynnerton came up suddenly and killed the said William son of William le Lou; and the said Roger de Wetewode aided and abetted the death of the said William, and they also said that the said Roger and Roger immediately fled, so that they knew nothing respecting the harbouring or reception of them by others, nor whether the said William was killed by the procurement of anybody, or whether his death had been previously arranged by anybody. The Sheriff was therefore commanded to arrest the said Roger and Roger, and produce them coram Rege at the Quindene of Easter. A postscript states that at the Quindene of Easter, 18 E. II., one Richard de Peshale appeared in Court before the King himself “coram Rege ipso,” and produced the King’s Letters Patent pardoning the said Roger son of Roger de Swynnerton for all felonies committed before the Feast of Christmas. Dated from Winchester, 2 May, 18 E. II. The said Roger son of Roger was therefore quit of the King’s suit. m. Rex, 1.

Taken from Staffordshire forest pleas-michaelmass, 55, Henry III (1207-1272) from British History Online

A presentment was made against Alured de Moloney, Hugh de Tymmor, James his brother, William de Mulveton, and John Salveyn, for entering the Haye of Hopewas, 53 H. III., with greyhounds, bows, and arrows, for the purpose of hunting  a stag . Hugh and James were committed to prison. James was afterwards released for a fine of 20s., for which John de Tresel and Henry de Morf are his sureties.




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I’m momentarily going to turn the blog into a campaign to save the 18th century historic Woodhouse, Hopwas. It’s historic significance can be seen in this earlier post. I’ve recently heard that the Woodhouse has had a demolition order go ahead, so it’s demolition could happen any day now! Here’s the post below :

Hello all ,I have just joined this forum as I was looking into the History of Wood House and came across you all.

This evening (Sunday 15 August 2010) my wife and I and our 2 border collie dogs went for a walk in Hopwas woods as we have done now for 30 years . When we got to the gate for Wood House we were suprised to see that the barbed wire that covers the gate (along with some very oily sticky black crud) had been cut on the right side giving  access to the drive to the house . What an amazing place it is . The building is in a sorry state now even the Opel Manta car has been burnt out by some scum chav shits. Such a shame that this very historical house and out buildings are to be demolished. Tarmac who own the building and land have been granted a demolition order by Lichfield District Council on 25/06/2010. The work has already started as the rhoderdendrons that used to encrouch onto the drive have been cut back using a brush cutter .This has happened very recently and I presume work will now progress at a swifter pace. So if you want to see this house in all its glory, I would do it very soon as I am sure when the demolition boys get in ,the access will definately be closed off forever.I just thought I would update you all regarding Wood House .I am sure we will become regulars on these forums now we have found them . I am just sorry that my first post should be so gloomy.

Regards  Snooper/ her indoors/ Finn& Pogue ( the woof woofs)

Midlandsheritage forum

I’ve confirmed this with Lichfield council and I’d like to make  a case to save if it’s not too late. I urge anyone reading this who cares about our shared heritage to make as much NOISE as possible about this. It’s a unique set of buildings, I don’t know how many 18th century gamekeepers lodges in their original settings exist in the UK but I’m guessing you can count them on one hand.

I will be putting the case forward for it’s defence, applying for listed status with english heritage, etc over the next few days so I will be putting updates and info on the blog over the coming days.

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Below are a few incidents at Hopwas woods. All potential material for urban legends. I’ll keep adding any more incidents I find out about to this post. That will be a feature of the blog, I’ll be adding and substracting from posts, it’s not publish the post and move on.  I’ll be going back and forth like with any creation and that includes comments that want to add or take away.

>In 1999 nine limousin  cattle escaped from a farm at Hints and took refuge at Hopwas wood. There was TV and press coverage and an army of a 100 soldiers, marksmen and mounted police hunting  the cattle. Four were shot dead but there was a public outcry and the remaining five were caught and taken to Hillside Animal sanctuary

limousin cow

>>deaths at Hopwas woods. In 1814 or thereabouts; body found by canal at Hopwas Hay with the details Unknown by unknown. When I was a kid heard about a death of a boy at the disused quarry workings in the wood, I remember because my brother told me while  climbing among the disused quarry(was it just a story) I recall reading in the local newspaper someone committing suicide by hanging in the wood a few years back.

>> June 1984 police swoop in on 16 naked witches dancing and chanting around a fire in a clearing in a wood-that was how the tamworth herald reported it. The truth was more swingeresque. It was the order of the silver star a group who believe in astrology and were trying to avert a disasters with stars or something, but why Hopwas? This has settled in the local consciousness somewhat. With people talking about witches and the occult  in Hopwas.

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