back to "The Grand Tour" index

Neville Malkin's "Grand Tour" of the Potteries

buildings South of the Potteries


next: St. Michael's Church, Stone
previous: Holy Trinity Church, Eccleshall
contents: index of buildings south of the Potteries

 

No 2 - Izaak Walton's Cottage, Shallowford

Izaak Walton was a famous angler and author whose best known work 'The Complete Angler' was published 1653 and is still in print.

Born in Stafford in 1593, Walton moved to London to become an apprentice draper, and later lived in Worcester and Winchester. In May 1655 he bought Halfhead Farm in Shallowford, which included this cottage where he spent some of his spare time fishing and writing.

He died in 1683 and is buried in Winchester Cathedral. In his will he left the cottage to the town of Stafford. The rent collected was to be used for charitable purposes, including the purchase of coal for the poor.

 

Staffordshire Past Tracks
 

 

 Izaak Waltons Cottage, Shallowford
 Izaak Waltons Cottage, Shallowford
pen drawing by Neville Malkin - June 1974

 


"This delightful cottage at Shallowford, on the banks of the River Meece, is where Izaak Walton (1593-1683), the famous angler and author, lived during his retirement. Now restored and used as a museum, it contains many of Izaak Walton's possessions which are of particular interest to the keen angler and country-lover.

Although born at Stafford, most of his early life was spent in London. His associates were of the cultivated class; his first wife was a descendant of Cranmer and his second, half-sister to Thomas Ken, the celebrated Bishop of Bath and Wells. In 1618 his name appeared on the roll of the Ironmonger's Company but little is known of the actual business he conducted. Whatever it was must have been successful because it enabled him to retire in 1644, allowing him some 40 years in which to enjoy his many interests.

It was during his retirement that the "Compleat Angler", dedicated to John Offley of Madeley, and the "Lives" of his friends, Donne, Wotton and other distinguished men, were written. He was 60 when the "Compleat Angler" was first published in 1653.
It is, to a large extent, intended to be a practical handbook of the angler's art, but it is much more than that. We find practical advice on baits, recipes for cooking fish and reflections on life pleasantly intermingled.

The book's sub-title, "The Contemplative Man's Recreation," gives a hint of his attitude to both angling and life in general: you can read in his preface, "the whole discourse is, or rather was, a picture of my own disposition, especially in such days and times as I have laid aside business, and gone a-fishing with honest Nat and R. Roe." Izaak Walton is generally accepted as being the first person specifically to devote himself to portraying and interpreting the atmosphere, sights and sounds of the countryside and its inhabitants. This book is one of the most popular of the English classics."

Neville Malkin 26th June 1974
 

 

 

 Izaak Waltons Cottage, Shallowford
 Izaak Waltons Cottage, Shallowford
This timber-framed thatched cottage was the rural retreat of Izaak Walton,
author of the Compleat Angler. The cottage contains a museum including displays
on Walton's life and the history of angling. It is open at weekends during the summer.

photo: Stephen McKay  September 2006
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

 

The cottage prior to its 1923 restoration
The cottage prior to its 1923 restoration

The Izaak Walton Trust bought the cottage in 1923 and opened it to the public in 1924. In 1927 a spark from a passing steam train set the thatched roof alight. The thatch was replaced by tiles, to prevent a similar accident. In 1990 Stafford Borough Council, who had become trustees of the cottage in 1956, rethatched and restored it as a typical seventeenth century cottage.
 

Staffordshire Arts & Museum Service
 

Portrait of Izaak Walton
Portrait of Izaak Walton

Staffordshire Arts & Museum Service
 

Staffordshire Past Tracks




next: St. Michael's Church, Stone
previous: Holy Trinity Church, Eccleshall
contents: index of buildings south of the Potteries

 

back to "The Grand Tour" index

  |