The Two Saints Way is the idea of experienced long distance walker David Pott. When David and his wife Pam came to Stone in the autumn of 2007, David quickly became interested in the foundational story of the town which is the legend of the two princes St. Wulfad and St Rufin. Click here to read a version of the legend. It is significant that this story features both St Chad and St Werburgh. He noted that apart from various sites in Stone itself, there were other places in the Trent Valley between Trentham and Salt that had connections with the legend, such as the Saxon hill fort at Bury Bank (formerly called Wulpherecestre) and St Rufin’s Church in Burston. Initially David conceived of the idea of linking together these sites into a story trail between Trentham and Stafford.
In late 2008, two significant conversations extended this idea into a full pilgrimage route. Firstly, Stafford’s chief librarian Andrew Baker suggested that it would be very possible to extend the story trail from Stafford to Lichfield over Cannock Chase along the Heart of England Way. This seemed highly appropriate as Lichfield Cathedral had housed the shrine of St Chad. Later, David was in discussion with Philip Morgan, senior lecturer in history at Keele, and he pointed out that a pilgrimage route existed between Chester Cathedral and Lichfield Cathedral. From there many pilgrims would have continued to Canterbury or even further to Rome or Jerusalem. When David realised that Chester was the shrine of St Werburgh, he began to consider the possibility of linking up existing paths to create a revived pilgrimage route between the cities.
At this point, the project was called the St Chad’s Way Project. David began to make connections with various potential partners and during 2009 a support group was formed and then later a steering group. The focus of David’s research had been the Mercian and Anglo-Saxon heritage and along the proposed route, he discovered Saxon stones at Acton near Nantwich and at Chesterton, as well as Saxon preaching crosses at Stoke Minster and Trentham. The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard in July 2009 was highly significant for the project as it greatly increased interest in the Mercian heritage. The hoard has been dated at the same period as St Chad and St Werburgh in the seventh century.
By the spring of 2010, the steering group was meeting regularly under the chairmanship of Dr Teeranlall Ramgopal, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Staffordshire University. Members also included representatives from both cathedrals, British Waterways and the tourist boards.
Chester Cathedral quite rightly wanted equal honour for St Werburgh and in June 2010 the present name of Two Saints Way was adopted.
In January 2011, the Two Saints Way Project was set up as a company limited by guarantee with David Pott along with Tim Saxton and Marg Hardcastle, who have been assisting David with the project, as directors. The project is also supported by the Fountain Gate Trust, registered charity no 298768.
The inaugural pilgrimage along the Two Saints Way took place in March 2012 – click here to read about it. The signage of the route and the erection of interpretation panels has continued since that time. The guidebook was published in November 2015.