It’s a good bet that most of us – whenever we pass the Totmonslow sign – have no idea of its historic significance.
Or… for that matter … know what a ‘Hundred’ is!
In fact, Totmonslow was the seat of one of the five ancient ‘hundreds’ of Staffordshire founded around 1200 years ago under the Anglo-Saxons. Because Totmonslow was its ‘capital’ (so to speak), it also gave its name to the hundred.
As for the term ‘hundred’ – it is not easy to interpret but came to mean an area that held one hundred men capable of being soldiers – and so, roughly, thus, one hundred households too.
The Totmonslow Hundred covered a large area of more than 250 square miles; and basically was the north-eastern part of Staffordshire. Within the hundred lay thirty parishes – among them being Uttoxeter, Leek, Cheadle and all of the Moorlands.
It is amazing to think that the tiny little hamlet we know now was then the centre of justice and administration for this wide area!
The system of government in which ‘hundreds’ played a part lasted around 1000 years, before largely falling into disrepute in the 1700s. However, the concept of them still existed in law right up until the 1890s, when the hundreds were fully abolished. (See notes on TotmonslowHundred in the 1830s)
But – where is the court?
So… that is why this tiny little hamlet that now only contains around twenty homes or so (and is one of the smallest sub-sections of Draycott) still has a place in history, and can be called an “historic” place.
But, talking of places, where exactly was the Totmonslow Hundred ‘court’?
Each hundred had to have a court, where the chief men would meet and where trials would be carried out. It would probably have been a barn-like structure, or part of a settlement.
The fact is, in the case of Totmonslow, nobody knows where it was!
One day, maybe a future Time Team will turn up, do some excavating, and find out…