The Local History Society
in the Parish of Clifton Campville
Home Clifton School Clifton Manor Rural Life St Andrew's Old Rectory Map Collection Sources News Letters
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BACKGROUND  C. 1970’S – 1996

John Needham was an amateur historian dedicated to researching the history of the Parish of Clifton Campville.   He lived with his family, for many years, in the Fingerpost Cottage, Smithy Lane, which had earlier belonged to the large, well-established Carter family.  John died in April 1993.


In pre-internet days, John gathered his evidence the hard way:  travelling the U.K., labouring hard and long in Record Offices, corresponding nationally and internationally, and spending a considerable amount of money on photocopying.  He created a mountain of files, notebooks, sketches and maps, but no key to their order.


John was well-known locally and highly respected, generous with his research to Clifton Campville’s visitors seeking family trees.  He made and exhibited models of key parish buildings along with informative talks.  His ‘Historical Notes of Clifton Campville’ was long in preparation, due largely to John’s ill-health.  Joan Maddocks of Clifton Campville typed the manuscript, prior to the printing in New York State by Stephen Hassall.  Ken Smith of Semmes, Alabama had also aided John’s research.  Sadly, the book was published three years after John’s death in 1996.  It is believed 20 copies were distributed to family and friends.


Sometime after John’s death, when the Rev. Alan Wheale was Rector, the Needham family deposited a large collection of John’s local history material in St. Andrew’s Church.




In the summer of 2009 the Rector, the Rev. Simon J. Lumby, asked Alec Gibson to list John’s material.  Such was the size of the task that Alec enlisted the help of Elizabeth Sigley and over five months the papers were collated.   Other than John’s carefully hand-drawn sketch maps of Clifton Campville, most of the material is secondary evidence diligently gleaned from various County Record Offices, either hand-written or photocopied.  Unfortunately, many photocopies were illegible through storage. 


By February 2010 ten new files had been created with contents arranged chronologically and listed covering:


       (i)    Sources

       (ii)   Clifton School

       (iii)  Clifton Hall post-1701.

       (iv)  Old Parsonage/Rectory

       (v)   St. Andrew’s Church

       (vi)  Family trees

       (vii) Clifton Campville and Haunton rural life

       (viii) Clifton Manor pre- 1701

       (ix)  Maps and sketches

       (x)   John’s  Miscellany


Various drafts for ‘Historical Notes of Clifton Campville’ were gathered into one large yellow folder labelled “Clifton’s testament of John Needham’s enormous industry.”            





The Rector, Rev. Simon J. Lumby, Alec Gibson and Elizabeth Sigley agreed that John’s work should be developed further, and conceived the idea of a Local History Society.   The Society was launched on  7th April 2010 in the Village Hall, with the Rector acting as Chairman.  The meeting was well attended, and following brief statements from the Rector, Alec and Elizabeth, it was opened to the enthusiastic audience.  Joan Maddocks obtained names and addresses of all those attending and noted the main points of the meeting.   There were many helpful suggestions, including the involvement of Stafford Record Office, the Oral History Society, Genealogists and the Library Services.  There were several offers of support and help from the Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee and the Village Website. 


The audience heard of the wealth of old photographs of Clifton; an evacuee’s story of Clifton during World War 2; the mapping of the Churchyard; the presence of two great grand-daughters of Charles Browne, the first Head teacher at Clifton School; the significance of the Carter family in Haunton and Clifton, since the 18th century and related by marriage to almost every pre-1939 family in the villages; and finally the importance of the Old Rectory.


With such obvious interest, it was unanimously agreed to arrange further meetings, and the Rector thanked everyone for attending, and Alec for providing excellent refreshment.