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The proud capital of the former Kingdom of Mercia has a range of excellent hostels available for visitors who want to explore the historical heart of the English midlands. You’ll find well-equipped bunkhouses inside traditional thick stone farmhouse walls, with lovely hot showers and fantastic facilities.
Most of the Stafford hostels are in the hills and dales of Staffordshire, ideal for exploring the countryside, and just a bus ride into town depending on where you decide to stay. With all the fun of the farms that neighbour many of Stafford’s hostel option, there’s plenty of outdoor activities to keep you occupied and entertained in the great British countryside.
The Ancient High House in the centre of town is the most famous landmark in Stafford and offers a journey through the history of the Tudors and the English Civil War. The artefacts on display are stunning and are sure to capture any visitor’s interest. For a journey further back in time, check out Stafford Castle, built by the Normans on the hilltop and used today for Shakespearean productions.
A walk around town will bring a number of architectural feasts. St Chad’s Church was built in the 12th century, built by stone masons from Jerusalem who came to England after the crusades. A bus ride or cycle ride will be enough to get you to Shugborough Hall, a sprawling country estate from the 16th century that is worth a day on its own. The National Trust property has been painstakingly restored to reveal England’s historic past.
Victoria Park is perfect on a sunny day, filled with flowers, trees and grass, while the Gentleshaw Birds of Prey and Wildlife Centre has plenty of fascinating owls and hawks. Ask at your hostel for details of opening hours and other activities.
The Shire Hall gallery was once the town’s courthouse and has a permanent exhibition of Stafford’s criminal history, including an old holding cell where prisoners were kept before appearing in front of the magistrates. Shire Hall also has rolling exhibitions of art, both modern and traditional, and seasonal leaflets can be obtained at most hostels in the Stafford area.
For a good performance or two, head to the Stafford Gate House Theatre where you’ll find plays, comedians and music. Stafford Castle hosts the annual Shakespeare festival, while there are three cinemas in town to choose from to see the latest blockbusters.
The slow-cooking revival has never been needed in Stafford, where ‘lobby’ has been a staple for generations. Beef cuts, pearl barley and Marmite go into this peerless stew which is found in many of the town’s traditional pubs and modern restaurants alike. Also look out for the Staffordshire Yeomanry pudding, an egg custard tart with jam, and Branston pickle, from nearby Burton.
As with any English county town, there is a thriving market which offers some excellent local produce that the pubs and restaurants use to great effect. Many of Britain’s most popular breweries are based in the area so make sure you try a local ale or stout before you leave.
The rolling Staffordshire countryside and the excellent collection of historic properties makes Stafford an entertaining place for anyone staying at a local hostel. Visitors can make a comprehensive choice to be exactly where they want to be to enjoy the county town of Stafford and the marvellous landscape surrounding it.