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Date:1086 - 2015 (c.)

Description:The village of Fazeley is situated close to Tamworth on the flood plain of the River Tame on Watling Street. Its low lying position has meant that the village has suffered from its fair share of floods in the past until flood prevention measures were put into place.

The name Fazeley is thought to derive from the Anglo-Saxon, ‘fearr’ a bull and ‘leia’ a meadow, thus bull’s meadow or pasture. It was part of the manor of Drayton, which was held by the Crown at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086. It later passed to the Bassets. In 1335, Ralph Basset was granted a weekly market to be held at Fazeley on Mondays and also a yearly fair. By 1795, three other annual fairs had been established in Fazeley. Two of these were cattle fairs which by the beginning of the 20th century had fallen into disuse as a result of cattle sales being established in Tamworth.

In 1789 the building of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal was completed, to be followed shortly by the Coventry Canal. This was to be a most important development in Fazeley’s history, placing it at the junction of the two canals. It is very likely that this developing transport system contributed to Robert Peel’s decision to build the largest of his cotton mills at Fazeley, followed by a bleach and calico printing works at Bonehill. The quality of the water in the area was very highly rated for bleaching attracting custom from far afield. Stebbing Shaw, the Staffordshire antiquarian, referred in 1798 to “a large vein of purest water, which had ... lain concealed in the bowels of the earth” and which was found to be of ‘much superior quality than any before known in the area. “This….. is now likely to prove of infinite use to their purposes of bleaching etc. being before confined to the precarious and inferior river waters.’”

The influence of the Peels as major employers and landowners in the area was highly significant in the short term, demonstrated in the building of some housing in Fazeley for the mill workers, and the building of a chapel of ease in 1812. Bonehill House was built for Edmund Peel, the younger brother of Sir Robert Peel, the prime minister, who had a direct involvement in the calico printing works.

By the 1830s the Peels were no longer directly involved with the mills but the tenancy of the Peel mill and works was taken over by William Tolson. Eventually in the late 19th century a steam powered mill, Tolson’s Mill, was built close to the canal.

The church of St Paul built between 1853 and 1855 by H.J. Stevens of Derby and paid for by local subscription. Insufficient money was raised to allow for the building of a planned tower. Both the Wesleyan Methodists and the Congregationalists had chapels in Fazeley from the 1850s.

20th century Fazeley saw much housing redevelopment, the building of a community hospital and the construction of the Tamworth by-pass, the latter reinforcing perhaps the continuing significance of transport and communications in this area .