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Manor Houses And Halls Of Greater Birmingham

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Thought this might be a repository of some of the old Manors and Halls......some still with us, some long gone.....although there are many posts of suchlike in the Buildings Past and Present Thread.....hope this is OK to try and keep them in one Thread......so let me kick off with an old favourite that has appeared many times in other posts....but really fired my love and interest in these iconic buildings....ASTON HALL...

In Aston Hall, now a museum and art gallery, is Birmingham’s jewel in Jacobean style (The Jacobean erarefers to the period in English and Scottishhistory that coincides with the reign of James VIof Scotland 1567–1625), who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I. The Jacobean era succeeds the Elizabethan eraand precedes the Caroline era, and specifically denotes a style of architecture,visual arts, decorative arts, and literaturewhich predominated in that period) which was once the manor house of the lords of the Manor of Aston. An inscription above the door puts the visitor in the picture before he even crosses the threshold of the hall.

Building, it explains, was begun in 1618 by Sir Thomas Holte, knighted as one of the delegates who welcomed James VI of Scotland to the English throne in 1603, and created a baronet in 16I2 - a dignity which meant he had to maintain thirty soldiers in Ulster at a cost of £1,000. Sir Thomas moved into Aston Hall in 1631 and completed the building in 1635.

Of all the Holtes whose portraits hang at Aston, Sir Thomas is the dominant figure, and nowhere more than in the kitchen with its splendid spit and unwieldy box mangle, for it was in his previous kitchen at Duddeston Manor that Sir Thomas was said in 1606 to have split his cook's head with a cleaver, so that one half fell on his left shoulder and one on his right. Though Sir Thomas won a libel suit concerning this, when he added the badge of baronetcy, the Red Hand of Ulster, to his coat-of-arms, there were those who said it represented his own hand, bloody from the deed.

In 1624 Sir Thomas violently opposed the marriage of his heir, Edward, to Elizabeth King, daughter of the Bishop of London, and, though Charles I intervened on the side of the couple, Sir Thomas was still opposed to his son when Edward died in 1643 at the siege of Oxford. December of that year brought Aston Hall's most exciting episode when Birmingham Cromwellians attacked it for three days before Sir Thomas and his Royalist garrison gave in. He was heavily filled and imprisoned by the Commonwealth party, twelve of the defenders were killed in the fight, and damage from cannon balls to the balustrade of the great staircase is today a visual reminder of the engagement.

Sir Thomas had fifteen children by his first wife, Grace Bradbourne - Grace abounding - and none by his second, Anne Littleton of Pillaton, near Penkridge. The story is only legendary that Anne disliked one of her step-daughters and persuaded Sir Thomas to lock her up until she went mad. Mr. Ronald Healey, supervisor of Aston Hall, told Vivian Bird: "This daughter is supposed to be our ghost, the White Lady. I have been here thirty years, but I have never seen her. My outstanding memory is of the grace and beauty added to the Long Gallery by Princess Alexandra when she had tea there in 1958."

Princess Alexandra is not the only royalty to have visited Aston Hall. Charles I slept there two nights in 1642 just before the Battle of Edgehill, and today King Charles's Room with his bed is directly off the Great Drawing Room. Queen Victoria declared the hall and grounds open to the public by the Aston Hall and Park Company in 1858, and she was not amused when, in 1863, a 'female Blondin' fell to her death there from a tightrope during a money-raising fete. The Queen's disapproval, and her shock that the place she had inaugurated was not yet paid for, jerked Birmingham Corporation into paying off the remaining £19,000 in 1864.

A frieze of animals in the entrance hall at Aston includes a prominent elephant, the crest of the family of James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, whose son, the younger James, leased Aston Hall in 1818. For all its visual charm and faithful reproduction of periods in its history, Aston Hall comes most alive through the people who have lived there - plus one who merely hangs on the wall of the Great Drawing Room, the intriguing Elizabeth, Lady Monson, daughter of Sir George Reresby. A verse in gold incorporated in the frame of her portrait begins:

“Did not a certain lady whip,
Of late her husband's own lordship?”


Seemingly she "Ty'd him naked to a bedpost", and "clawed him with fundamental blows" - an exhibition having much in common with modern films, but arising, I understand, from a conflict of political loyalties.

One way and another, poor William, Viscount Monson, had a rough passage - and maybe he deserved it, being partly instrumental in the execution of Charles I. He was stripped of his honours at the Restoration, and drawn on a sledge by ropes round his neck from the Tower to Tyburn and back, before being imprisoned in the Tower for life.

Sir Thomas Holte died in 1654. Because his estranged eldest son, Edward, and all his other sons had pre-deceased him, he was succeeded by his grandson, Robert, who became an M.P. - and a prisoner in the Fleet debtor's prison. Nevertheless, the first of his two marriages, to Jane Brereton of Brereton Hall, Cheshire, brought this property to the Holtes in 1722. Meantime, the third baronet, Sir Charles, had restored the family fortunes, while his daughter, Mary, was stitching the famous hangings and the carpet bearing the Holte arms.

The fourth baronet, Sir Cloberry Holte, married a Barbara Lister, of whom he later wrote: "She is seldom at home, or satisfied when she is there." So he left her only £10. She married again, and Sir Cloberry's mother thought her a bad influence, allowing her to spend only two weeks each year with her sons at Aston. Despite three marriages, the elder of these sons, Sir Lister Holte, remained childless, and the succession passed to his brother Charles, the sixth and last baronet, who never lived at Aston Hall, as his wife and Lister's widow, Sarah, were always at loggerheads.

Sir Charles had only one daughter, Mary Elizabeth, and no sons, so the direct Holte line died. Mary married Abraham Bracebridge of Atherstone, and on a bedside table in the Victoria Room at Aston Hall - with its tantalising glimpse of a corner of the playing pitch at Villa Park - is a copy of Washington Irving's Bracebridge Hall. The American writer often stayed in Birmingham with his relatives, the Van Warts, and Bracebridge Hall is partly inspired by Aston Hall. The break-up of the Holte estates is a complicated business, arising from Abraham Bracebridge's failure in the soap trade, and a partition of the estates in several counties to satisfy his creditors and Sir Lister's legatees, including the Legge family - the Earls of Dartmouth-and the Digbys of Meriden.

In 1818 a Warwick banking firm, Messrs. Greenway, Greaves, and Whitehead, bought Aston Hall and leased it to James Watt, who lived there until he died in 1848. In that year most of the 300 acres of surrounding parkland was sold for building; and the remainder of a herd of deer dispersed. Afterwards Birmingham Corporation began to take an interest in the hall and what was left of the park. So the Holte line has ended, and today their mansion re-echoes to the hurrying feet of schoolchildren pursuing social studies. But I believe the Holte crest has lived on and become widely known in the Midlands, though none suspect its origin. This is the squirrel trademark of Ansell's Brewery- a more recent Aston landmark than the hall - acquired in 1934 by Ansell's along with Holt's Brewery of Aston, who used it on their seal as long ago as 1896, though they were not related to the Holtes.
 

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
And here's one that was new to me...came across it whilst researching the River Rea..! LIFFORD HALL......with some pics from Allan Elliott.......and which he posted elsewhere.....the history is fascinating...

It is generally believed that on the site of Lifford Hall was an ecclesiastical building possibly dating from Saxon times and perhaps connected with religious orders which later became established in the area notably at Bordesley Abbey near Redditch.

The remains of old sandstone foundations and the presence of two underground tunnels beneath the front lawns give evidence of the existence of an earlier building. Lifford Hall was built in 1604 with the main dining room extension added in early Victorian times, and the recreation room and the connecting corridor built in 1951. The Hall is scheduled as a building of historical interest and for this reason the very extensive renovation and internal re-equipment which was undertaken in 1950 was not allowed to affect the appearance which remains much as it originally was.
Two early 17th century stone mullion windows are still visible, but the ancient looking wall and imitation castle tower built to divide off the rear garden are only evidence of the fashion in Victorian times for the building of “follies” of the type.

It is not certain by whom the Hall was built but in 1781 it became the residence of the first Viscount Lifford. This man, born James Hewitt, originated from Coventry and became the Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1768. His title was associated with Lifford near Londonderry, in North Ireland, and it is generally believed that he consequently bought the name to the area.

After the death of the first Viscount Lifford, the house was bought by Thomas Dobbs. This gentleman was the engineer who constructed both the Birmingham to Worcester and the Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon canals, which join a few hundred yards from the works.
But, the local history is more interesting than that. Mr Arthur Capon, (who married the daughter of Mr Oford who bought the Hall from Mr Dobbs in the early 1800’s), built the first rubber mill in England in the grounds of Lifford Hall. This old building will be remembered as a ruin by many still at Lifford. This building and the water wheel was removed in 1954 although an old brick structure which was presumably the mill office and warehouse was taken down in 1965 in order to improve the visibility in Tunnel Lane.

One of the men of the Capon family is reported to have hanged himself on a tree in Lifford Hall grounds and this has given rise to the ghost story connected with Lifford Hall, which has from time to time received a little publicity from the press.
After the Capon family left the area, the Hall was owned by the Griffin-Harris family, who handled fishing and boating on the reservoir.

Lifford stands close to the ford across the River Rea. As the red clay on the east side of Birmingham became slimy and slippery in wet weather, a place where the river ran over a firmer bed would have been a draw for local people and for longer-distance travellers for thousands of years. This ford where Lifford Lane now bridges the river is likely to be pre-Roman, but it was was certainly in use 2000 years ago on the route of Icknield Street. This was a Roman road which left the Fosse Way at Bourton-on-the-Water, passed via the Roman town of Alcester and on through Stirchley whose Anglo-Saxon name actually means '(Roman) road clearing'. It then follows the Pershore Road to Bournville Lane, after which its route to Metchley fort in Edgbaston is uncertain.
However, although Adam de la Ford is recorded as living near here in 1275, the name Lifford probably has no connection with the river ford or with Adam.

Lifford Hall is a Grade II Listed building which was erected in 1604 on the site of an earlier medieval building. In 1781 it was the home of James Hewitt of Coventry, who became Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He took Viscount Lifford as his title apparently named from Lifford near Londonderry, Whether this was a coincidence or was deliberately done with reference to the ford is open to conjecture. On Lifford's death the hall was bought by John Dobbs, the engineer of the adjacent Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

The hall is built of red brick with stone dressings but is now stuccoed. It has 18th-century gothic embattled stone walls and an octagonal watchtower folly. There are 18th- and 19th-century additions. The building was renovated in the 1950s and new office blocks were added in the early 1990s.

Archaeological excavations on the front lawn of the hall in advance of building work revealed evidence of Lifford Mill, a post-medieval watermill which stood here on the River Rea until the early 19th century. The remains were unearthed of a water tunnel leaving the mill and of the tail race to the river.

Documentary evidence shows that there was an earlier medieval mill downstream nearer to the reservoir (which was not there at that time) dating from the 14th century.
 

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Ashfurlong Hall
Bartholomew de Gresebroke was a younger son of a wealthy family from Rotherham in Yorkshire. He moved to Shenstone in Staffordshire and in about 1204 bought the manor house of the de Brays family, which was subsequently known as Gresbrok Hall. Bartholomew is known from documentary evidence to have also held lands at Ashfurlong c1214-1242. His descendants in the male line were still living in the area until 1628.

Set back between the Tamworth Road and Weeford Road stands a large two-storey Georgian country house. Ashfurlong Hall is neo-classical in style, but there is evidence here of earlier Tudor stonework. The house was altered to its present form in 1804 for Thomas Vaughton, High Sheriff of Warwickshire, and its quality is recognised by its legal status as a Grade II* Listed building.

The 1861 Census records the residents of the hall: Thomas Colmore, Justice Of Peace for Warwickshire (and Warden of Sutton Coldfield), born in Ashover Derbyshire, his wife and 5 children. Also living in were a nurse and under-nurse, a cook/ house keeper, a housemaid and a laundress, and a gardener.

A later occupant of Ashfurlong Hall was Colonel J H Wilkinson. He it was who bought Barr Beacon at the western end of Sutton Chase as a perpetual public memorial for the soldiers of the Staffordshire and Warwickshire regiments who had been killed in World War 1. The dome on Barr Beacon was erected in Wilkinson's memory in 1933.

Barr Beacon was formerly owned by the Scott family of Great Barr Hall, nearby. Following the death of Lady Mildred Scott in 1909, the estate was auctioned off in 1918. Birmingham's Lord Mayor made a plea for the site to be secured as a public park. Colonel J. H. Wilkinson of the Staffordshire Volunteer Infantry Brigade responded by purchasing it, then transferring it to a trust. It opened to the public on Easter Monday, 21 April 1919. In 1972, the trusteeship of Barr Beacon passed to Walsall Council. The council now manages Barr Beacon on behalf of the Barr Beacon Trust., with a management committee comprising local councillors and representatives of interest groups. During both 2002 and 2003 the site attracted an estimated 200,000 visitors.


History of the gardens
Ashfurlong Hall started life as a medieval / Tudor farm, it was developed into a typical classical regency country residence in 1804 for Thomas Vaughton, High Sheriff of Warwickshire
who had six daughters all born in Sutton Coldfield between 1801 and 1817.

The house has had many owners and occupiers including in 1841 Henry Grimes a Warden of the town 1838-40, in the 1850s Joseph Webster of Penns Mill also Warden, and Thomas Colmore a Birmingham solicitor, also a Warden 1864-66. When Colmore died in 1870 the estate included some 118 acres.

The property was briefly used by a school associated with Trinity College but by 1891 had reverted to residential status when Arthur T Beck was in residence.

A later occupant of Ashfurlong Hall was Colonel J H Wilkinson. He was a wealthy philanthropist who established a Hospital in the town and bought Barr Beacon at the western end of Sutton Chase as a perpetual public memorial for the soldiers of the Staffordshire and Warwickshire regiments who had been killed in World War 1. The dome on Barr Beacon was erected in Wilkinson's memory in 1933.

The latest occupant's prior to its recent sale when the estate was split were EH Moore and his wife he was High Sheriff of the West Midlands county and grandson of ES Moore who established the famous HP sauce company.

The history of the gardens is even more obscure although there is plenty of archaeological evidence and memories dating from the 1960's. The walls surrounding the garden appear to date from the 18th century period although there are what are obviously later Victorian additions. There was an extensive Victorian range of glass houses on the outside of the walls with heating powered by the ubiquitous Robin Hood solid fuel boilers. in addition outside the walls there was a frame yard opposite the glass houses. A summer house and what was presumably the show house was located against the west facing wall. Sadly most of these buildings had reached the state of no return by the 1970's and were demolished. We do have an intriguing building that is not large enough for a potting shed that has a chimney built into the outer wall and we have always wondered what its purpose would have been.

Following world war 2 the gardens became a private nursery and no longer serviced the estate, over recent years the gardens have decayed somewhat and hopefully our project will do the previous gardeners justice.
 

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
ELMDON HALL
The Elmdon estate was bought in 1760 by Abraham Spooner (c.1690-1788), a Birmingham banker. He started to build Elmdon Hall in 1780 and it was completed in 1795 by his son Isaac (1736-1816/7). Isaac's daughter, Barbara Spooner, married the famous anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce in Hull in 1797, having apparently met him the previous year in Bath. His connection with the village is marked in the road name 'Wilberforce Way', situated off Damson Parkway.

Isaac Spooner's son and heir, Abraham Spooner Lillingston (1770-1834), took the surname of his wife, who was the sole heiress of Luke Lillingston of York. On the death of Abraham Spooner Lillingston, the estate was sold to William Charles Alston. After his death in 1862, the estate passed to his son, who was also called William, and was known as Squire Alston.

Squire Alston remained a bachelor until his death in 1916 when the estate passed to his sister Mrs Alston-Roberts West of Stratford who sold most of the estate to the sitting tenants. In July 1930 the rest of the estate was sold and the Hall was purchased at auction for the sum of £3,700 by a Mr W. Walters of Olton who sold to it to Solihull Urban District Council in 1944. It was used by the Home Guard during the war years. The building subsequently became derelict, having a rotten staircase and roof, and was demolished in 1956.

Elmdon Park
The land around the hall was home to golden fields, hay meadows and managed hedgerows, giving home to an abundance of wildlife long since lost. Edith Holden from nearby Olton, noted the wildflowers of Elmdon Park in her diary, published in 1977 as the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.

I've added a few pics from around the old hall for interest......
 

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Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Ashfurlong Hall
Bartholomew de Gresebroke was a younger son of a wealthy family from Rotherham in Yorkshire. He moved to Shenstone in Staffordshire and in about 1204 bought the manor house of the de Brays family, which was subsequently known as Gresbrok Hall. Bartholomew is known from documentary evidence to have also held lands at Ashfurlong c1214-1242. His descendants in the male line were still living in the area until 1628.

Set back between the Tamworth Road and Weeford Road stands a large two-storey Georgian country house. Ashfurlong Hall is neo-classical in style, but there is evidence here of earlier Tudor stonework. The house was altered to its present form in 1804 for Thomas Vaughton, High Sheriff of Warwickshire, and its quality is recognised by its legal status as a Grade II* Listed building.

The 1861 Census records the residents of the hall: Thomas Colmore, Justice Of Peace for Warwickshire (and Warden of Sutton Coldfield), born in Ashover Derbyshire, his wife and 5 children. Also living in were a nurse and under-nurse, a cook/ house keeper, a housemaid and a laundress, and a gardener.

A later occupant of Ashfurlong Hall was Colonel J H Wilkinson. He it was who bought Barr Beacon at the western end of Sutton Chase as a perpetual public memorial for the soldiers of the Staffordshire and Warwickshire regiments who had been killed in World War 1. The dome on Barr Beacon was erected in Wilkinson's memory in 1933.

Barr Beacon was formerly owned by the Scott family of Great Barr Hall, nearby. Following the death of Lady Mildred Scott in 1909, the estate was auctioned off in 1918. Birmingham's Lord Mayor made a plea for the site to be secured as a public park. Colonel J. H. Wilkinson of the Staffordshire Volunteer Infantry Brigade responded by purchasing it, then transferring it to a trust. It opened to the public on Easter Monday, 21 April 1919. In 1972, the trusteeship of Barr Beacon passed to Walsall Council. The council now manages Barr Beacon on behalf of the Barr Beacon Trust., with a management committee comprising local councillors and representatives of interest groups. During both 2002 and 2003 the site attracted an estimated 200,000 visitors.


History of the gardens
Ashfurlong Hall started life as a medieval / Tudor farm, it was developed into a typical classical regency country residence in 1804 for Thomas Vaughton, High Sheriff of Warwickshire
who had six daughters all born in Sutton Coldfield between 1801 and 1817.

The house has had many owners and occupiers including in 1841 Henry Grimes a Warden of the town 1838-40, in the 1850s Joseph Webster of Penns Mill also Warden, and Thomas Colmore a Birmingham solicitor, also a Warden 1864-66. When Colmore died in 1870 the estate included some 118 acres.

The property was briefly used by a school associated with Trinity College but by 1891 had reverted to residential status when Arthur T Beck was in residence.

A later occupant of Ashfurlong Hall was Colonel J H Wilkinson. He was a wealthy philanthropist who established a Hospital in the town and bought Barr Beacon at the western end of Sutton Chase as a perpetual public memorial for the soldiers of the Staffordshire and Warwickshire regiments who had been killed in World War 1. The dome on Barr Beacon was erected in Wilkinson's memory in 1933.

The latest occupant's prior to its recent sale when the estate was split were EH Moore and his wife he was High Sheriff of the West Midlands county and grandson of ES Moore who established the famous HP sauce company.

The history of the gardens is even more obscure although there is plenty of archaeological evidence and memories dating from the 1960's. The walls surrounding the garden appear to date from the 18th century period although there are what are obviously later Victorian additions. There was an extensive Victorian range of glass houses on the outside of the walls with heating powered by the ubiquitous Robin Hood solid fuel boilers. in addition outside the walls there was a frame yard opposite the glass houses. A summer house and what was presumably the show house was located against the west facing wall. Sadly most of these buildings had reached the state of no return by the 1970's and were demolished. We do have an intriguing building that is not large enough for a potting shed that has a chimney built into the outer wall and we have always wondered what its purpose would have been.

Following world war 2 the gardens became a private nursery and no longer serviced the estate, over recent years the gardens have decayed somewhat and hopefully our project will do the previous gardeners justice.

The mention of philanthropism always gets my attention, and I am sure I have come across Colonel JH Wilkinson somewhere before.

The obituary is probably the best place to start, as it usually sings the praises of the deceased. Even in 1931 you can see how the Church viewed the working classes...

“He would always be remembered as a master of business. They did not always recognise how much of the order and stability of the world and our English life was due to the masters of business. Mastership in business, as a rule, did not mean dominance, but service. He who would be master must be the servant of all, and they remembered him as a servant of the community as he was a master in business.”

It looks like JH has his title, Colonel, from duties with the Volunteers and the Territorials. At least until around the end of the 1800s it was frowned upon by the regular army, and others, for these people to use the title while not in uniform.

He formerly resided at Elmwood, Handsworth and later at Elmhurst Hall near Lichfield, but left there about 1911.
 

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Falcon Lodgeis the area of Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, West Midlands, England, covered in predominantly council housesforming the Falcon Lodge Estate. It is located between Whitehouse Commonand Reddicap Heath. To the west of the estate lies Rectory Park. It forms part of the edge of the Sutton Coldfield conurbation and the English countryside.

FALCON LODGE HOUSE
The estate takes its name from the house built on newly enclosed common land in 1820. In 1852 the estate comprised some 54 acres (22 ha) of meadow, pasture and arable land. On the 1889 Ordnance Survey map can be seen the large orchard immediately north of the house. The first tenants were the Pepper family of Nottingham.

In 1937 the Sutton Coldfield Corporation acquired the house and land for £39,500 for the provision of local authority housing. The resultant Falcon Lodge Estate was built between 1948 and 1956. There are two secondary schools opposite each other: John Willmott School& Fairfax School. The road (Fairfax Road) on which Fairfax School lies acts as the border of the estate. There is also a primary school called Newhall (formerly Springfield School) and Langley School on Lindridge Road (a special needs school). This was demolished in 2010. Woodington Infants School, just off Woodington Road was demolished in 2007/2008.

The estate and surrounding area is served by several local Christian churches including St Chads(Anglican) on Hollyfield Road; Falcon Lodge Methodist Church on Newdigate Road; Falcon Lodge Chapel(Evangelical), Reddicap Heath Road; Holy Cross & St Francis (Catholic), Springfield Road. Sutton Christian Centre(Pentecostal) uses Falcon Lodge Community Centre for their main meetings and Falcon Lodge Chapel for their youth activities. Other denominations are represented with Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Springfield Road and the Seventh Day Adventist Church meet at Falcon Lodge Community Centre. Second Thoughts is a church-sponsored community shop and information centre operating from shop premises on Churchill Parade.

The estate is split by a small stream along which Churchill Road is situated. This road acts as the main route on which National Express West Midlandsbusestravelling through the estate take.The Falcon Lodge area is served by the Sutton Trinityelectoral ward which came into being in 2004. The area has a row of shops running along Churchill Road and a community centre, run by Birmingham City Council, offering classes and activities for young and old. Sutton Coldfield Town Boys Football Club is located on Lindridge Road.


Falcon Lodge is a council estate on the east side of Sutton Coldfield. It takes its name from a late-Georgian house which stood west of the junction of Wyatt Road and Langley Hall Road. Much of Wyatt Road marks the line of the drive to the house from Lindridge Road. Langley Hall Road was the drive from the house to Springfield Road.


The origin of the name of the house name is unknown. It may be a romantic 19th-century creation by the builder or the first residents.


Falcon Lodge.jpg
 

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
THE CEDARS...home of our most famous gunsmith....in Erdington...

William Greener was the first member of the Greener family to make guns. After serving his apprenticeship with John Gardner in Newcastle Upon Tyne he worked for Joe Manton, probably the best English gun maker in the early 1800’s. Returning to Newcastle in 1829 he set up on his own to make percussion muzzle loading sporting shotguns and rifles, military rifles, and harpoon guns for the Dundee whalers. However, in Newcastle it was difficult to obtain the best materials so he moved to Birmingham in 1844 where Greener gun making has remained ever since.

William was an inventor and during his lifetime he invented; the expansive bullet (1835), an electric light (1846 - long before the modern 'Ediswan' lamp was patented in 1879), a device to open the four gates of a railway level crossing simultaneously, a self-righting lifeboat (1851) and modifications to the Miner’s Safety Lamp. But first and foremost he was a gun maker and the quality of his guns soon attracted the rich and famous, among these Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria. At The Great Exhibition of 1851 he won two gold medals and a diploma. He went on to win medals at the New York Exhibition of 1853 and Paris Exposition of 1855. William wrote three books, The Gunin 1834, The Science of Gunneryin 1842 and Gunnery in 1858.He also wrote a pamphlet - The Proof House – The bane of the trade - which was instrumental in reforming the Gun Barrel Proof House by the Act of 1855.

After William's death in 1869 his second son, William Wellington Greener, continued the family tradition of making high quality sporting and military guns, and his inventions helped to develop the breech-loader and make it the modern sporting gun we know today. Probably W W Greener’s greatest contributions were, perfecting the system of choke boring, and, inventing the famous cross-bolt. The former allowed clients to win all The Field Trials from 1875 to 1879. This led most most wing shots to use Greener guns to win prizes and competitions all over the world. The cross-bolt which he invented in 1867 to strengthen the action of breech loaders resulted in the strongest action, weight for weight, of any gun made. By the turn of the century in 1900 he had the world's largest sporting gun factory employing over four hundred and fifty skilled craftsmen. Like his father he wrote several books the most famous of which The Gun and its Developmentwas published in 1881. This book, and The Breechloader and how to use it published in 1892, both ran to nine editions.

W W Greener’s two sons Harry and Charles took over the business from their father in 1910 and ten years later the firm was incorporated into a Limited Company. Production was switched to military requirements during two world wars and during the intervening period demand for very high quality sporting guns diminished. The company under the two brothers, and later Leyton Greener, Harry's son, concentrated on well made, but less expensive 'Empire' models and single barrel GP shotguns (developed from a riot control gun for the Egyptian Ghaffir police force).

But the building of the inner ring road in Birmingham meant the factory complex fronting St Mary's Square had to go. So, in 1965 the company was sold, the old factory with its imposing Victorian edifice was pulled down and production for the company as a family run business ceased. Webley, which acquired the gun making part of the business continued to make the single barrel GP for a few years but it was not until 1985 that the company was bought by its present owners; Graham Greener (W W Greener's great grandson) David Dryhurst and Richard Tandy (two of the country's finest gun makers).

In popular culture Wilbur Jonas, the general store owner, offers to sell Matt Dillon four Greener shotguns at an attractive price, in "Renegade White", episode 4.30 of Gunsmoke.

Episode S5E1 of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp(1959), Earp is confront by "Shotgun Gibbs" who is armed with a Greener loaded with a rifled slug.

In the film "Big Jake", John Wayne's character asks his ex-wife, Martha (played by Maureen O'Hara), if she brought his "Greeners, the double-barrels". Wayne then proceeds to open a gun case revealing matching shotguns and his favorite derringer, "Betsy". There is also a reference in the 1973 film "Cahill, U.S. Marshall" where Wayne is in a box car with several prisoners and one says, "You're not going to leave that old Greener on cock are you?".

In the Blood Bond book series by William W. Johnstone, most shotguns and sporting guns are referred to as greeners.

In the 1975 classic Jaws, Robert Shaw's Quint character uses a modified Greener harpoon gun.

Fame indeed!
 

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
One I love visiting a few times a year, with a very strong link to Birmingham history and commerce.......which is not often mentioned......PACKWOOD HOUSE, Knowle....

See below
 
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Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Oh dear so sorry. Will delete and try something else....
The content concerning the Ash family was very interesting and I can’t see that they have been covered on the Forum. Their association with Birmingham could bring out some interesting history, and may warrant a thread of their own?
 

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Hay Hall

Memorials to the Hays and the Ests in the Gilbey Chapel of Yardley Church introduce us to three families who lived nearly two miles distant at Hay Hall beside the River Cole, in what is now the Tyseley industrial area. Come there, to the works of Reynolds Tube Co. Ltd. Every day you see, without realising it, some of the company's butted frame tubes, forks, and stays on countless bicycles. Every time you pass under the electricity grid cables you can look up and see the short transverse cable spacers, made by this firm. One of their products you are not likely to encounter is the oxygen bottle that went to the summit of Everest with Hillary and Tensing, and still lies on that mountain. Ships' masts and jackstaffs, office furniture, road shelter frames, hurdles, refrigerating components, flagpoles, de-icing devices out on the nose of aircraft-Reynolds tubes are used in them all. Squirrel poles for destroying the nests of the grey squirrel, balancing poles for circus performers; these are among the less expected of their products. Cars, aircraft, and marine engineering; guided missiles; the latest industrial and scientific development looks to the firm for components.

Yet, preserved in the modern Tyseley factory is an old manor house, Hay Hall, probably built by one Robert de la Hay around 1300. Its oak roof-trusses and other structural features bear close resemblance to other Warwickshire buildings of the period, notably the Guild Hall at Henley-in-Arden. In early Tudor days Hay Hall was re-shaped to an 'H' design, and the other major addition, around 1790, was a Georgian frontage, now tastefully decorated with flowers in season and with sufficient trees to constitute a green oasis in an industrial desert. The interior originally had the Great Hall of its day, and though this is now divided into a number of rooms, the mullioned windows, huge open fireplace, and roof-trusses enable us to envisage that medieval hall. Though a modern wooden staircase has been installed in what was the original entrance hall, there are still low corridors and lintels to interior doors, and, as part of Hay Hall is used as a kitchen, the appetising odours evoke pictures of the hall as once it was. On a first-floor landing a modern showcase and an ancient museum collection make incongruous neighbours, the museum containing relics unearthed in Hay Hall. From the fabric come wattle sticks of hazel and a portion of stained window glass of Tudor times. Still showing signs of its 1939-45 black-out paint, this bears the initials A.E. linked by a tasselled cord design.

It is likely that this glass commemorated the wedding of Anne Gibbons and Edward Est, to whose family Hay Hall was transferred with the last of the de la Hays, Marion, in 1423, when she married Thomas Est, Governor of Kenilworth Castle. Anne and Edward became man and wife about 1538, and the design which entwines their initials is identical with one binding the W.S. on a signet ring of Shakespeare's. Among other exhibits in the museum case are a glass bottle300 years old, hand-made nails and chains and old knife blades, while beside them is the showcase of modern aluminium alloy products.


Hay Hall
is a former 15th Century moated hall located at Hay Mills, in Birmingham, West Midlands. In the 16th century it was refaced, and after a fire in 1810 it was rebuilt with a slightly modified layout with the back of the house now used as the front entrance. Originally a sub manor of the Este family the building form comprised a central open hall with cross-wings at either end. There are no traces of the original moat in the area, with the modern surroundings currently developed as factories and works, known as Hay Hall Business Park. It was listed Grade II in 1952.

A moated house or manor was first founded at the site in about 1260 by the De La Haye family. Hay Hall passed on to the Este family in 1423, when the heiress Marian De La Haye, married Thomas Este. They are commemorated in St. Edburgha's Church at Yardley by a wall sculpture depicting them. The Este family owned and occupied Hay Hall until the late seventeenth century after which the property changed hands frequently. In 1917, when the Patented Butted Tube Company purchased Hay Hall and a surrounding 13 acres of land. The estate was developed into new tube works and factories but fortunately Hay Hall was saved from demolition.

The last person to actually reside at Hay Hall was apparently a Mrs Shelley who was employed as a housekeeper by the then rebranded Tube Investments Company, and was known to be living in the Hall up until 1939. In 1948 the building was fully restored and is currently in use as private offices for the Reynolds Tube Company Limited


 

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Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Wood End House

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In June 1939 the Evening Despatch carried an article "Why not a Society for the preservation of Ancient Birmingham." It was against the wanton destruction of the ancient buildings that the city still possess.

There had been the demolition of Perry Hall, and although Blakesley Hall had been saved, no finger had been raised to save WOOD END HOUSE, Erdington, an older, finer, and equally historic building.

Bill Dargue says... “Moated living fell out of fashion and Pype Hall, the house within the moat, was rebuilt north of the moat in 1543. This building was enlarged in 1622 as Wood End Hall and was known as Wood House by the 19th century. The 1891 Ordnance Survey map shows a large boating lake south of the moated site. The house was demolished in 1932. The site is now within the playing fields of Kingsbury School. Neither the name Pype nor Wood End is any longer in use.”

1819 up to 1830 There is a John Harrison mentioned at Wood End House, and also Wood End Farm.

1826 The Misses Innes place an advert to say that their school for the receipt of young ladies will reopen.

1848 The Wood-End House is to be Let. Spacious drawing and dining rooms, entrance hall, breakfast room, Library, twelve chambers, servants hall, kitchens, china closets, stabling, saddle room, coach houses, Garden, Orchard, fish pools, pleasure grounds and two pews in the Parish Church.

Situated three miles from Birmingham on the Tamworth turnpike road, surrounded by park-like grounds and ornamental timber. If wished a farm with complete set of farm buildings, and Labourer's House.

1857 There is a Thomas Aurelius Atwood at Wood-End House.

1866 and William Fowler is at Wood-End House. (Author of The History of Erdington)

1901 there is an Eliza Rollason (45) at Woodend House, she is a widow living by her own means, and with daughter and two sons, a companion, and servants. She wrote several letters to the paper concerning such things as emancipation of women, and the choice of magistrates..

1918 the Birmingham Archeological Society heard an alledged proposal to demolish Wood End House, Erdington, an old half-timbered structure of interest. The House passed to a private buyer who would maintain it.

The grounds, which contain some fine trees and are well shrubbed, consists of tennis and other lawns, kitchen gardens and fruit trees, and a Paddock. Residence stands well back from Kingsbury Road and is approached by a Carriage Drive The principle reception rooms, Lounge Hall and one bedroom are panneled. A great deal of the woodwork and floors in the House are oak.

1931 Ancient Erdington Mansion sold for £2,100.

16C manorial house sold to Mr. Walter E. Heppel of Brighton. The successor of a much earlier
mansion built at the end of the 6C. As it stands today it was erected by John Butler.... the Great Hall, originally the Court Leet of the manor is panelled in dark oak. Other features include secret passages, a granary, and an ancient square brick-built dovecote containing a thousand nests.

1932 according to Bill Dargue the House was demolished. So Walter E Heppel may have been a property developer?
 

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
MIDDLETON HALL

B78......On the way to Fazeley and Tamworth....a fascinating insight into three important Families of old. The Rays, the Willoughbys, and the Peels.....the visitors keep the place going, plus the amazing volunteers....Nature and Nurture perfectly aligned......well worth a visit!
 

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
May I add to Pedro's brilliant piece on Wood End House....

Pipe/ Pype, Pype Hall

Pipa: first record c1290

In Old English pipa means 'a water channel', the implication being that it is man-made. However, it is not known what or where this feature was. It may have related to the medieval moated site which stood at the top of a small valley south-west of the junction of Kingsbury Road and Bromford Lane. Moats were often fed via a channel from a nearby stream. The Pype family held the manor 14th century, though whether they took their name from the manor or vice versa in uncertain.

Sometime before 1218 the manor of Erdington was divided between three co-heirs probably cousins, Thomas de Erdington, Roger de Erdington and Walter Maunsel. Each estate was later referred to as a manor in its own right. Thomas's estate passed down the family to his ?great-granddaughter, Emma who first married Sir Henry de Harcourt and bore a daughter Margaret, and secondly married Richard de Pype who by his first marriage already had a son, John. The two step-children married sometime after 1303 and the manor passed to their son, Richard de Pype. Of the seven children of his son Henry all died with their mother of plague except Margery who thus became lord of the manor. In 1373 the manor was granted to Margery's uncle Thomas de Pype, the Abbot of Stoneleigh and subsequently passed out of the family. By the early 14th century the estate was known as the manor of Pype or Pype Hall. In 1569 it was sold to Edward Holte, who sold it in 1573 to Francis Dymmock, lord of Erdington. The manor descended with Erdington which in 1647 was bought by Sir Thomas Holte of Aston Hall and then followed the same descent as Aston.

While the manor was variously known as Pype Hall, Pipe/ Pype Manor or Pype Orchard, the area around the moated site was also known as Wood End, presumably simply meaning the wooded end of the manor. 60 acres of woodland were recorded here in 1303. Roger ate Wode was recorded here in 1304 and le Wode End was recorded in 1461. Moated living fell out of fashion and the house was rebuilt north of the moat in 1543. This building was enlarged in 1622 as Wood End Hall and was known as Wood House by the 19th century. The 1891 Ordnance Survey map shows a large boating lake south of the moated site. The house was demolished in 1932. The site is now within the playing fields of Kingsbury School. Neither the name Pype nor Wood End is any longer in use.

Bill Dargue

https://billdargue.jimdo.com/placenames-gazetteer-a-to-y/places-p/pype-hayes/

Pipe Hall.jpeg Pipe Hall  Moat 1889.jpg Pipe Hall back of.jpg Pipe Hall Dovecote.jpg
 

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
And to clarify any confusion betwixt Pipe Hall and Pype Hayes Hall...here's the history of PYPE HAYES HALL..

Pype Hayes Hall

Pype Hayes is situated some two miles north-east of Pype. A sub-manor of Erdington, it was possibly so-named because it was at one time part of the manor of Pype, which itself may have taken its name from the 14th century holders of the estate. However, it too may have had a pipa, 'a water channel', one artificially made for a purpose not now known.

The second element of the name, Hayes derives from (ge)haegor 'hay' . This was a fenced or hedged piece of land enclosed usually for agriculture, but here it may refer to an enclosure for hunting game. The term is used in woodland areas of deer parks in Anglo-Saxon times. If so, there is likely to have been a significant ditch and hedged bank around the enclosure. The name is perhaps best rendered as 'Pype enclosure'.

Before 1218 the manor of Erdington was divided between three coheirs, one of whom was Roger de Erdington. His portion had passed by marriage to the Massy family of Cheshire by the 16th century. In 1604 Hugh Massy married Bridget, the daughter of William Arden of Park Hall near Castle Bromwich. Their son, John subsequently sold the manor, the further descent of which is unknown. The manor was to remain in the family, however. John's mother was the great-aunt of the father-in-law of Hervey Bagot, the builder of Pype Hayes Hall. Bagot enclosed many acres of waste, at that time part of Sutton Chase, and after 1630 built the hall and laid out the surrounding park. He lived here for 15 years before being killled in 1645 during the English Civil War as a colonel for the Royalist cause.

The house descended in the Bagot family for over 250 years, in 1850 being occupied by Revd Egerton Arden Bagot. The 1891 Census lists William and Lucy Bagot living here with a dozen servants.

This Grade II Listed building in Pype Hayes Park was built about 1630 by Sir Harvey Bagot. The hall was bought in 1906 by the wealthy industrialist, James Rollason who owned Bromford rolling mills. He is recorded as living there two years later in Kelly's Directory. Some ten years later it was bought by Birmingham City Council when its park was made into a public park and the house converted into a convalescent home. Used until recently as City Council offices and much altered, it is still essentially Stuart in appearance. There are plans to convert the building into a hotel.

The original house, a central block with gabled cross wings, was timber-framed, but was altered and stuccoed in the late 18th century. Presumably the timber frame still stands behind the stucco facade.

The Birmingham historian, William Hutton visited the hall sometime before 1783 and was unimpressed by the modernisation:
Though the hall is antique, its front is covered in the modern barbarous stile, by a clump of venerable trees; which would become any situation but that in which they stand. It is now inhabited by a gentleman of Birmingham, who has experienced the smiles of commerce.

The evidence of the medieval name of Pype Hayes shows that this was a settlement site very much older than the hall. Evidence of ridge and furrow, medieval open strip fields is still visible in front of the hall. It can also be seen on Pype Hayes Municipal Golf Course on the north side of Plantsbrook, west of Ashford Drive. The open field system must have been related to the manor of Berwoodof which Pype Hayes was part.

In the Middle Ages the Earl of Warwick, as lord of Sutton manor, provided a stone cottage for two retainers to escort travellers across Sutton Chase which was then a desolate and dangerous area renowned for robbers. The Chester Road has long been an important highway through the area. Bow Bearers Lodge survived until it was demolished in 1828; Bowcroft Grove is a modern street name commemorating a field called Bow Bearers Croft.

A surprise find in 1955 was a Civil War Coin Hoard unearthed by Mr Buckley when he was digging up his potatoes in an allotment to the rear of Welwyndale Road. Some thirty silver coins were identified including a Philip & Mary shilling, two Elizabeth I shillings, thirteen sixpences dated between 1561 and 1596, three sixpences of James I and a Charles I half crown of poor silver, either a forgery or struck at one of the King's emergency mints. These are now in Birmingham Museum.

The land west of Pype Hayes Park was Berwood Common, which lay between the Chester Road, Kingsbury Road, Holly Lane and Grange Road. It was developed as Pype Hayes council estate just after World War 1, the park being laid out for the public at the same time and opened in 1920. The hall and land were bought by Birmingham Corporation in 1919 with compensation for the loss of Castle Bromwich Aerodrome, now Castle Vale, compulsorily purchased by the War Office.

BIll Dargue


 

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Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
“The evidence of the medieval name of Pype Hayes shows that this was a settlement site very much older than the hall. Evidence of ridge and furrow, medieval open strip fields is still visible in front of the hall. It can also be seen on Pype Hayes Municipal Golf Course on the north side of Plantsbrook, west of Ashford Drive. The open field system must have been related to the manor of Berwoodof which Pype Hayes was part.”

I just wonder, as near the Hall are the Playing Fields and also the Golf Course, that the present weather may show the ridge and furrow well from the air. We will have to ask Morturn to set up his drone!

In 2005 we passed a great example of ridge and furrow due to the swollen River Trent at Alrewas...

https://www.ipernity.com/doc/2254674/44799392//in/album/980280
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
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The two 3D pictures from Google Earth show the present state of what was Little Aston Hall. If you consult Wikipedia it says that the Hall was constructed in 1730 by Richard Scott of Great Barr Hall. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Aston_Hall

However according to the Lichfield Mercury publication, Mansions and County seats of Staffordshire and Warwickshire, published about 1899, it informs that the House was actually rebuilt at that date. The history is also traced back further to 1583.

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The house was enlarged and improved in 1857 and this clip from the Staffs Advertiser gives a detailed contemporaneous account.

In 1927 “The Sphere” has illustrations of interior.

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