Legacy of the Great War on Cannock Chase

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Text © Copyright John M, December 2013
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.

JRR Tolkien

As a 2nd Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, Tolkien was stationed in Brocton and Rugeley Camps (The Camps of Mordor)from November 1915 to June 1916. He developed trench fever during the Battle of the Somme and stayed nearby whilst convalescing in Great Haywood. Many of the places on and around the Chase are thought to be linked to 'The Hobbit', 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Middle Earth'.

Mythical Sites

SJ9819 : Brocton Coppice - 'Forest of Fanghorn' by John M
Brocton Coppice - Forest of Fanghorn

SJ9922 : Tolkien's 'House of a Hundred Chimneys' by John M
Shugborough Hall - House of a Hundred Chimneys

SJ9922 : River Trent - Essex Bridge by John M
Essex Bridge - Grey Bridge of Tavrobel

SJ9820 : Tolkien's 'Brook of Glass' by John M
Sher Brook - Brook of Glass

SJ9818 : Coppice Hill by Jon Almond
Coppice Hill - Heath of the Sky Roof(the Withered Heath)

Great Haywood

Tolkien married Edith Bratt in Warwick on 22nd March 1916 and she came to live in Great Haywood to be near the training camp at Brocton. The village had a Roman Catholic church and she initially stayed at the presbytery with the parish priest Father Augustus Emery. The couple received a nuptial blessing at St John the Baptist Catholic Church in late May.

SJ9922 : St John the Baptist RC Church by John M SJ9922 : St John the Baptist RC Church (interior) by John M SJ9922 : Presbytery at St John the Baptist RC church by John M

He received his posting to France on 2nd June 1916 and after three weeks at Etaples joined the 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers near Amiens on 27th June as a Signals Officer. From July he saw service in the trenches at the Somme and was withdrawn from the line on 27th October after contracting trench fever. Repatriated to England on 8th November he was hospitalized at the 1st Southern Military Hospital at Birmingham University for six weeks. He rejoined Edith in Great Haywood in December 1916 at Rock Cottage. During his time in the village he would have walked with Edith along the canal and used the village reading room. They would stay there until 27th February 1917 when he was admitted to an Auxiliary Hospital in Harrogate.

SJ9922 : Fancy Bridge no. 73A on the Trent and Mersey Canal by Tim Heaton SJ9922 : Great Haywood Sports & Social Club by John M

Gipsy Green

Returning to fitness in 1917 Tolkien saw home service on the Holderness Peninsula near Hull and returned to Cannock Chase when he was posted to Rugeley Camp in May 1918 moving to Brocton Camp in June. Edith rented accommodation at Gypsy Green on the nearby Teddesley Estate. Tolkien was hospitalized again on 27th June with gastritis and sent to Hull, Edith remained at Gypsy Green.

SJ9516 : Gipsy Green by Geoff Pick


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