I noticed today in the Stonnall History Group on Facebook that the inimitable Julian Ward-Davies, author of ’The Lost Lake of Stonnall’ and other great research pieces was musing on the history of the Pen Brook, a small stream that appears to flow from the eastern slope of Lazy Hill toward Shenstone, through Stonnall. I’d not noticed it before, so I though I’d go poking through the current mapping record to look for it.
Julian posted the following:
Where Pen Brook passes under Chester Road at Lazy Hill Road, Stonnall.
Gordon and I followed the brook into Lynn and we found that it was surprisingly deep in places. I would like to follow it back to its source. I suspect that it once flowed over Lazy Hill Road, possibly near Gorse Farm, giving rise to the place-name Penford.
The current large-scale maps of the area, both vector and raster, show the Pen Brook patchily; I haven’t gone looking for it physically yet, but I suspect that it’s path to be narrow or culverted for a degree of its route, therefore it’s probably mostly below the size that guarantees inclusion in surveys. Maps do indeed show the stream emerging opposite Gorse Farm which may well strengthen Julian’s view that there might have been a ford there. I’m interested in what the watercourse does after it dives under the Chester Road; it seems to re-emerge in the field southwest of Thornes Croft and St Peters Close (unnamed on the draft). Note the mark ‘drain’ in this context refers to a ditch or course into which neighbouring land drains naturally.
North of Mill Lane, the Pen Brook appears to surface or widen briefly; I think it’s surfacing here as the term ‘issues’ implies a rise or spring from below ground. Continuing eastwards, once more vanishing, it seems to become significant again behind The Nurseries at Lynn, whereupon it flows over Owletts Farm land, into the woodland at Footherley Rough and into the Footherley Brook.
I shall certainly explore this myself when I get chance, and see what I can find. I thank Julian for bringing this up, and for anyone else interested in such intriguing questions of physical geography and local history, do join the Stonnall History Group on Facebook.
All of these map extracts have larger, legible versions if you click on them.