The village of Salt stands on the south bank of the river Trent, between Sandon and Weston. It was listed in the Doomsday book (1086) as "Selte" and recorded as having "land for four ploughs,...a mill, twelve acres of meadow and four of wood", Selte in Old English meaning "a salt pit or salt works". It probably originates from the Saxon period, owing its existence to a sheltered position and proximity to water, Trent meaning "the flooding river" from the Celtic name "the trespasser". There seems to be no written evidence of salt workings within the parish but it is likely that there were in the early days of settlement as salt has been obtained from the nearby parishes of Weston and Baswich and from the western section of Stafford in the last three centuries.
THE HOLLY BUSH
The historic Holly Bush Inn is generally recognised as being the second licensed pub in the country. Licensing of public houses began in the reign of Charles II (1660 - 1685) so the Holly Bush must have been well established at that time but its origins are claimed to reach as far back as 1190. In the second half of the 17th Century there would have been about thirty houses in the village. To the North of village the road that is now the A51 was the main 18th Century stage coaching route from London to Liverpool. The nearby Trent and Mersy canal was constructed in the 1770s. It is fascinating to think of all the people that have partaken some refreshment within the Holly Bush walls over the years.
Near to the Holly Bush is the former Salt Railway Station, now a private residence. The station was part of the Stafford Uttoxeter line that was brought through the village in 1867. The line closed to passengers in 1939 and to goods traffic in 1951.
Not far from the village of Salt on land known as Hopton Heath one of the battles of the English civil war was fought in March 1643. A Parliamentarian force commanded by Sir William Brereton and joined by forces under the command of Sir John Gell advanced on Stafford. They were met at Hopton Heath by Royalist forces under the command of Spencer Compton, the Second Earl of Northampton and General Henry Hastings. A battle ensued and Breretons men were defeated but Northampton was killed at the moment of victory. Prince Rupert then took command of Royalist forces in the midlands. Cromer Hill "Cromwell Hill" in neighbouring Milwich is so named after Cromwell's men encamped there prior to battle.
SALT SCHOOL AND CHURCH
The Parish church St James the Great and its vicarage was built on land donated by the Earl of Shrewsbury. He also financed the building and it was constructed with stone taken from the Earls own quarry at Weston Bank. The church houses a wooden screen designed by the eminent Victorian architect Augustus Pugin and was formerly part of the furnishings of the private chapel at Alton Towers, one time home of the Earls of Shrewsbury.
Salt School opened in 1858 and was financed along with a schoolmasters house by the Earl of Shrewsbury in memory of his daughter who died in Naples in 1856. The school closed in 1981. It is now a private residence.Thanks to Stella Millman for historical contributions.