Over 50 years ago hiring a rowing boat on the canal at Brewood was quite the thing to do. People came out from the towns to participate and to picnic. Now the canal, which hugs the edge of the village, is alive with more commercial enterprises. A whole smart fleet of canal boats stands in readiness for holiday hires.
The village itself, about eight miles north of Wolverhampton, has several smart Georgian houses and a varied and interesting centre. One of the unusual pieces of architecture is 'Speedwell castle'. It is the only Grade I listed residence in Brewood, described as Georgian Gothic. The name 'Speedwell', it is believed, came from a horse of that name, presumably the winnings paid for the building!
Chillington Hall, south-west of the village is the home of the Giffards. Theirs is a long and interesting family history .The house and part of the extensive grounds are open from May until September on Thursday afternoons, well worth a visit.
The parish church of St Mary and St Chad, which in parts dates back to the 12th century, is surrounded by an ancient and well kept graveyard. The headstones tell their own story of the old Brewood families, lots of whom still carry on in the village today. West of the village is the Roman Catholic church of St Mary, completed in 1844. It was designed by Pugin, who was responsible for much interior detail of the Houses of Parliament. A small but well used Methodist chapel is wedged in School Street, between houses. It is well worth searching out.
Below the chapel on the corner of Newport Street is an old frame house known as The Mansion. Behind it hides the restored locksmith' cottage. Lockmaking has its roots in Brewood. If history had taken a different turn and Brewood had been better served by the railway Brewood might have been an industrial town and Willenhall (now the heart of the lock industry) would have been merely a quiet village.
In Bargate Street is Bargate House, where a past owner must have been concerned about the window tax, as there are several bricked-in windows on the facade. This house was once a toll house, as was the chemist shop in the Square. Now its fame is proclaimed by a plaque which commemorates Walker the engineer.
Off Sandy Lane is Jacobs Ladder, a flight of worn steps which lead the back of the churchyard and straight through to Deans Street, a street of well kept interesting houses, mostly Georgian. The importance of the village's past reveals itself in the house names in the street: The Deanery, Deans Cottage etc.
Brewood is a busy village with good shops and a new library. There is somewhere to rest one's tired feet. Most of the pubs serve food, and a pot of tea and home made cakes are always available at Studio One on week-days. A full guide book can be purchased in the village.
The village information above is taken from The Staffordshire Village Book, written by members of the Staffordshire Federation of Women's Institutes and published by Countryside Books. Click on the link Countryside Books to view Countryside's range of other local titles.