Labelled ‘The Garden Town of Staffordshire’ for its surrounding moors, its open verdant scenery, and the garlands that decorate many of its buildings, Biddulph is as picture perfect as it gets. A former coal-mining town, Biddulph is, today, a combination of seven small, former-mining communities: Bradley Green, Brown Lees, Biddulph, Gillow Heath, Knypersley, Biddulph Moor, and Biddulph Park.
There are many beautiful examples of greenery throughout the town, most notably at Biddulph Grange garden, which boasts flowers from all over the world, expertly arranged in the style of their country of origin. Greenway Bank Country Park also contains a wide variety of flora, but as a park it is more orientated towards walking, sports, and activities. There are a number of other great walks that can be commenced from the centre of Biddulph, most notably the ruined Mow Cop Castle lies just three miles outside the town.
In terms of shopping, there is a renowned artisan’s market that takes place every Friday, which provides an eclectic mix of produce.
Due to the town’s bountiful nearby deposits of coal, clay, iron, grit, and sand, the area has been a popular settlement for over 5,000 years. Excavations have uncovered Anglo-Saxon remains dating to the year 650AD, alongside evidence of mining; the name Biddulph is in fact derived from the Anglo-Saxon words ‘by’ – meaning near – and ‘delph’ – meaning digging area. The Anglo-Saxons also built the original St. Lawrence Church around the year 900AD, which stands as the parish church of the town today.
Normans settled here in the 11th century, as excavations conducted in 1967 around the remains of an old motte-and-bailey castle, located in the north side of Biddulph, uncovered 11th century pottery amongst other relics.
At the start of the 19th century, the Biddulph Valley consisted of roughly 200 houses, housing mostly farmers. The industrial revolution started not long after, and the opening of several coalmines and ironworks in the middle of the century increased the population tenfold and witnessed the forming of the town’s high street in Bradley Green. Biddulph Valley Railway was opened in 1858, allowing for raw materials to be imported and exported easily.
Artisan Market – This monthly market takes place on the first Friday of every month, between the hours of 9am and 3pm, and can be found on Biddulph high street, outside of the town hall. Delivering an eclectic mix of locally sourced food and drink, arts and crafts, plants, and trinkets.
Greenway Bank Country Park – This popular destination for walkers and cyclists from Biddulph is thriving with wildlife, and consists of dense woodland, sandstone gorges, marshlands, and numerous pools and lakes. Originally part of the Knypersley Hall estate and owned by Hugh Henshall, whose brother-in-law, James Brindley, built the two onsite lakes, which feed into Caldon Canal and the Trent and Mersey canal. On top of the numerous walking trails, this 114-acre park boasts a children’s adventure playpark, an art gallery, a café, a bistro, and a gift shop.
Biddulph Grange Garden – This beautiful Victorian garden is part of the reason why Biddulph is referred to as a ‘garden town’ and contains flowers from all over the world. Devised by James Bateman, who spent more than twenty years of his life organising the retrieval of hundreds of different flowers from all corners of the world during the Victorian gardening age. Upon entering, you are faced with rows upon rows of hedges, in between you’ll find painstakingly laid out flowered displays of each individual country, creating the illusion you are travelling the world as you traverse across this vast display. The garden is maintained and appears just as it would have during the Victorian-age, the only thing that has changed is the uptake in wildlife, as numerous rare species of birds and insects have since found a home amongst this exotic flora.
Mow Cop Castle – Visible throughout most of Biddulph, Mow Cop Castle is a grade-II listed ruin of a 18th century folly. Located 2.8 miles outside the town centre, Mow Cop sits atop a crag and was built in 1754, for usage both as a folly and also a summerhouse for Randle Wilbraham I. During an excavation, Iron Age querns were found, suggesting that this site was originally used as a camping site. The castle has often been the centre of land ownership disputes, mainly surrounding the quarrying of the hill in which it sits upon. Local residents started rioting in 1923 when the ruin was nearly destroyed by a quarrying company. The issue was solved in 1937 when Mow Cop was bought by the National Trust. Unfortunately, visitors cannot enter the folly, but its good enough to spectate the fort close-up from the outside.