By Alan J Hartley
The Wolseley Centre
The Wolseley Centre is now the home of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, but was the ancestral home of the Wolseley Family. Open weekdays from 9 –5pm and weekends from 11-5pm the Visitor Centre is set in 26 acres of grounds which once surrounded a great mansion house that burned down decades ago. (You can still see some of the foundations to the cellars that have been fenced off) The gardens were derelict for years, but are now tended with most of the unnatural plantings removed leaving a beautiful wildlife setting with 3 lakes, a riverside viewing platform and a long meandering raised boardwalk over a marshy area. The Centre can easily be found next to the large Wyevale GC just of the A51at Wolseley Bridge between Rugeley and Stone.
of the site is easily accessible with ample car parking and even space
for coaches, but there are some steps on the site and there are
stretches of boardwalk that may prove difficult for some visitors. In
some areas children will need to be watched, as the lakes and the
riverside are obviously a hazard. Having said that they also increase
the scope of children's activities, as pond-dipping facilities are
The many pathways, laid out around
the grounds which go through wooded areas and along the banks of lakes,
from time to time reveal large wickerwork type art including the centres
very own "Wicker Man" standing some 20 or so feet high in the
trees. As it was once formal gardens the centre does retain a few large
specimen trees some of which are over 300 years old. There is a range of
gardens and planted areas including a small orchard with over 30
different varieties of fruit trees some of which are local historic varieties.
There is also an unusual Sensory Garden that includes plants that smell,
plants that rustle and plants that taste. Other planted areas are a
miniature Wet Meadow, Reed bed, Limestone habitat, Wildlife garden,
Woodland, Hay meadow and Heathland.
The Wolseley Visitor Centre is more
than just a place solely for walking round as it also has a wildlife
gift shop with café facilities and several function rooms that can be
hired as well as teaching classrooms for wildlife and environmental
At various times of the year different “Events” are held as fund-raisers. These include a very good Christmas Fayre that fills all the downstairs rooms with dozens of stalls selling a wide range of gifts that have mostly been made by the stallholders. In the past the centre has also hosted several other fayres including a Spring and Summer Fayre as well as putting on camping displays and a food and beer festival.