If you travel only a short distance from the Midlands and are asked where you live, the reply 'Codsall, near Wolverhampton' invariably sets the enquirer visualising factory chimneys, heavy industry and grime. Not so! Codsall is set in 'green and pleasant land' a short walk from the Shropshire border. While not so attractive in appearance as it was some 30 years ago, many of its old cottages and elegant houses having been demolished in the interests of commerce and so called progress, it still retains a village atmosphere and is not merely a dormitory suburb of Wolverhampton.
Prior to the 1960s keen gardeners were familiar with Codsall as the home of Baker's Nurseries, where the multi-coloured Russell lupins were first grown in 1935, as was the Bishop delphinium. Indeed, the Baker family who owned the nurseries lived for many years in the house in Church Road that was the birthplace of Sir Charles Wheeler KCVO the well known President of the Royal Academy, 1956-66. Prior to the 1950s a large proportion of the village, male and female, worked at the nurseries, growing the plants, packing the seeds etc. Then the business was transferred to nearby Boningale and ultimately ceased to exist. Mr James Baker the owner, was a director of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for many years.
In 1086 only six people were recorded as living in Codsall. In 1327 eleven were assessed for tax in the locality, but by 1971 the population had increased to 9,027 and is now some 12,000 - a veritable population explosion. In the 1940s Codsall ceased to be a home only for those employed in agriculture or domestic service and began to develop into a residential area, although the Bull Inn existed in 1791 surrounded, as such hostelries usually were, by a cluster of cottages. In 1850 the Great Western Railway opened the station, roads began to radiate from the hub of the village and Victorian 'commuters' began to build and buy properties in increasing numbers.
Curiously, Codsall church is not situated in the village centre but a little way out at the top of a long incline and is the highest point between here and Russia, a fact to which shivering communicants climbing the hill on a winter morning will testify. The view from the churchyard is magnificent, for on a clear day, looking north-west and away from the main residential areas the distant Wrekin and Welsh mountains can be seen beyond a pastel patchwork of fields and small woods. Also visible is the path to what was once the Leper Well and the crossroads where an unfortunate unnamed female was hanged.
Codsall offers its residents a wide variety of interesting societies and clubs for their leisure, while three excellent public houses offer good food and good ale.
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.