On the way up north, we made a planned stop that I was pretty excited about. The town of Stafford, specifically Stafford Castle, was interesting to me for obvious reasons. Foolishly assuming for a second that I most definitely am a direct descendant of the former lords and ladies of this castle, I had a very romanticized idea of learning about the history of the Stafford family and where I might have come from. Who knows. Maybe these people WERE relatives. In either case, it made for a fun detour.
The Staffords were Normans that set up shop in a modest little castle in the late 11th century on a hilltop that is currently surrounded by blackberry bushes. I appreciate this. My people were clearly thinking with their stomachs when founding their new settlement. Even in the modern town, the “Stafford Knot” is proudly on everything and it looks exactly like a pretzel, as if the entire town is now sponsored by Wetzels Pretzels. Anyway, the story goes that Charles I denied the rightful heir, Roger Stafford, from inheriting the title when Henry died and got his buddy to marry Henry’s sister and acquire the lordship. Poor Roger was paid off and sent packing. Supposedly him and his family took off to Ireland and then some, eventually, continued to Canada. Sounds promising right? My people were ousted! And then the clown they had in there clearly ran the place into the ground. Just ungrateful. The spot was defended well but had wooden walls except for in the small central keep so, over time (and wars, sieges, fires, etc) the castle eventually was eroded away until only the keep was left. Also, fun fact, I’m not the first international Stafford to come back and demand the title. The guy at the visitor center said there’s been a few, but that the current lord lives a few towns over. Said he never comes by and thinks I’d take him in a fight. Maybe next time.