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Manor Houses And Halls Of Greater Birmingham

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Barrells Hall is a large house in the Warwickshire countryside near Henley-in-Arden. The nearest village is Ullenhall, which for many years was the estate village, large parts of it having been built by the owners of Barrells Hall, the Newtons, one of the families who formerly owned Barrells. An adjacent house named Barrells Park was built in about 1950 on part of the Barrells estate.

The earliest mention of Barrels (as it was spelled at that time) was a reference to a Richard Barel in 1405. In 1554 the estate was purchased by Robert Knight of Beoley and remained in the Knight family until 1856. An inventory taken in 1652 shows that it was an ordinary farmhouse, though a Knight appeared in the 1682 visitation of Warwick. When Henrietta St John was banished to Barrells in 1736 (see below) it was still much the same and in very bad condition. On Henrietta’s death her husband, then Lord Catherlough, rebuilt large parts of it.

When Catherlough’s son married in 1791 he commissioned the noted Italian architect Joseph Bonomi the Elder to build an imposing extension, which became the main house at this time.

The Newtons, a local family bought the Barrells Park estate in 1856, and soon after enlarged the property again, adding another wing, a Winter garden and various other features.

The house was the victim of a serious fire in March 1935. It slowly fell into ruin over the next 65 years, before being extensively restored in 2006.

The Knights

As mentioned above, the Knight family first established themselves at Barrells in 1554.

Robert Knight (1675–1744) became notorious as the cashier of the South Sea Company responsible for the “South Sea Bubble” and absconded to France with a fortune. He built Luxborough House in Chigwell, Essex and never lived at Barrells. His son, also named Robert Knight (1702–1772), became successively Baron Luxborough, Viscount Barrells and Earl of Catherlough. He purchased Barrells from a cousin in 1730. He banished his wife Henrietta St John to Barrells in 1736 as punishment for an indiscretion.

As Henrietta, Lady Luxborough, she was one of the first to establish a ferme ornée and is credited with the invention of the word “shrubbery”. Her friends, a group of poets, became known as the Warwickshire Coterie.

After his wife Henrietta’s death in 1756, Catherlough began to live at Barrells and had several children by Jane Davies, the daughter of one of his tenants. He was unable to marry her because Lady Le Quesne, whom he married in 1756, refused to release him. But he arranged by Act of Parliament for his son by Jane Davies to take the name of Robert Knight and inherit his fortune, but not his titles.

When this next Robert Knight (1768–1855) died the Reverend Henry Charles Knight, who claimed to be his son by the Hon Frances Dormer but was disowned by Robert, attempted to obtain the Barrells estate, but the resulting legal dispute was settled by the sale of Barrells and splitting the proceeds.

The Newtons

The house was bought in 1856 by William Newton II, who lived there with his wife Mary Whincopp and children Goodwin Newton (1832–1907), William Newton III, Canon Horace Newton, and Mary Rosa (who later married Henry Cheetham, Bishop of Sierra Leone, having moved from the Whateley Hall Estate near Castle Bromwich (which they still owned up til the 1880s).

Upon William Newton II's death in 1862 Goodwin Newton inheritedthe Barrells estate and lived there until his death in 1907. His son, Hugh Goodwin Newton, lived there until his death in 1921.

Large areas of the village of Ullenhall were owned by the estate, including the pub, coffee house, school, church, post office etc., and several houses.

The three Newton brothers (Goodwin Newton, Canon Horace Newton and William Newton III) built St Mary's church in Ullenhall as a dedication to their parents William II and Mary Newton, who originally bought Barrells.

The family owned whole streets of commercial property in Birmingham, including part of New Street, as well as welsh slate quarries and mines in Llanberis, including Bryn Bras Castle. Hugh Goodwin Newton's widow sold the Warwickshire, Scottish and Welsh estates in 1924.

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
This elaborately timbered yeoman farmhouse dates from the middle of the 16th century. The Grimshaw family, after whom the house is named, lived there from around 1635 until 1765. The house is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of Fanny Grimshaw, murdered in her bedroom by a jealous lover.
By 1841. the house was owned and farmed by the Willcox family, who also rented Elvers Green Farm and Poplar Farm from the Knowle Hall Estate. The land extended to the canal on the Knowle side of Hampton road and to the River Blythe on the Solihull side. In all there were 134 acres of meadow, pasture and arable. Although the family owned the farm until 1885, it appears to have been let from about 1870 onwards, first to a Mr. William Draper and then (by 1831) to the Mayou family. In early records the house is called Old House Farm: the present name first appears in 1874, but the farm is still referred to by its old name in the 1885 sale brochure.
In 1885 the estate was shared between seven children, none of whom could retain it. One share was used to build Yew Tree Farm in Kixley Lane owned by the family until 1978. Another share build Grimshaw House on the corner of St. John's Close and Station Road,k with the cottages next to it. Miss Rosie and Miss Gertie Hinks, who are descended from the Willcox's, still live there today.
The new owner was Mr. Joseph Gillott, who let the property to various tenants. By this time the house had become covered with creeper, eventually being divided into a number of separate dwellings. About 1913 it was bought and lovingly restored by Mr. J.W. Murray, a Birmingham stockbroker, who had previously lived at Blair Atholl (now demolished and replaced by Stripes Hill House). Queen Mary paid a brief visit in 1937, on the day she also visited Packwood House.
Grimshaw Hall can be seen through the trees from Hampton Road. The present road is a diversion, the original passing much nearer the front of the house.

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Master Barmmie
Canwell lies in the south of the county, about nine miles south of Lichfield, with houses and farms scattered in a haphazard way over rolling hills, fields and woods. The only semblance of a village is where the school, some houses, a farm, and a Social Hall cluster near a crossroads, only about half a mile from the boundary with what is now the West Midlands. No village street, no village green! Very dispersed and strewn around is Canwell, which consequently rather lacks a sense of unity and a feeling of togetherness.

Canwell goes back to the Middle Ages, when there was a priory, but no village. The priory was founded in 1142 and had strong links with the manor of Drayton.

Eventually Sir Francis Lawley bought the estate and Canwell remained in the Lawley's possession from 1700 to 1872. The family built a Hall, and stables were built from the ruins of the priory. An elementary school was established in 1851. In 1872 the Hall and estate was sold to A B Foster, when there were 193 people living in Canwell, and 38 houses. Most, if not all the people worked at the Hall or on the estate. A B Foster's son, Philip, enlarged and supported the school and it was called the Philip Foster school. Sadly the school was closed in the early 1980s, as was the post office and the only shop. But happily, at the end of 1987 a flourishing nursery school was opened in part of the old school.

Canwell church, built in 1911 as a private chapel to the Hall by the Fosters, is a small, quite delightful Early English style building, beautifully built and maintained, although the congregation is scattered over many miles.

Then in 1920, something happened which completely changed this quiet, peaceful part of South Staffordshire. Birmingham City Council bought the Hall and 25 surrounding acres, sold off 250 acres of unsuitable land and divided the remaining land into small-holdings for ex-service men, part of a Goverment Land Settlement Scheme. Today, many houses have been sold, land redistributed so that farms are larger and while there are still tenants, many have bought their own farms.

The Hall with its 25 surrounding acres was used as a convalescent home for soldiers, but principally as a childrens hospital. This hospital goes down in history as the first one in England to use penicillin. The hospital was closed the day before the Coronation in 1953, when Little Bromwich Hospital had been opened. Canwell Hall was pulled down in 1958.

Canwell holds an annual Agricultural Show, which from modest beginnings in 1925, is now one of the largest one day shows, with entries from far and wide.

To end on rather a gruesome note. There is a steep hill where now runs the main road to Tamworth and beyond. This road is wooded, but not densely as in earlier times, when even on a sunny day it was dark. This is called Carroway Head, but legend has it that it was once called Gallows Way Head, where stood a gibbet, which travellers on their journey had to pass. Imagine on a dark night, the sound of creakings, and sinister shapes swinging in the wind!

The village information above is taken from The Staffordshire Village Book, written by members of the Staffordshire Federation of Women's Institutes and published by Countryside Books. Click on the link Countryside Books to view Countryside's range of other local titles.

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Mansions and Country Seats of Stafforshire and Warwickshire (1899) published by the Lichfield Mercury gives more Interesting info about Canwell Hall...10AA0555-D007-48F2-80BA-48A652DA3CFD.jpegA0AE2C82-C6FC-416F-B461-590685ABBB6D.jpeg86DC5598-3024-4478-BB97-02B83D8ACE93.jpegF5F2562F-0482-4CD3-81EF-56F754CA8CDD.jpeg
Wood End House

View attachment 126529

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?

I have a lot more information about Pype Hall/ Wood End House, photos too! My family lived there for about 30 years from 1884 to 1918 when my Great, Great Grandfather died and his widow moved out. They were living in the house definitely in 1901 so Eliza Rollason did not, unless she was staying there as a visitor? But that is not a family name, maybe she was a governess?

The name was Daniel Causer and his wife was Sara, he was the director of the Birmingham based business Hopkins Causer and Hopkins. The house I am told was sold to an American who took it down brick by brick and moved it to the USA in 1932. Sadly very difficult to trace it as they would have changed the name of the property no doubt.

I attach a photo of the beautiful Wood End House as it was known at this time, but previously it was known as Pype Hall as already stated

.Pype Hall or other name Wood End House, Erdington, Birmingham..jpg

I have a lot more information about Pype Hall/ Wood End House, photos too! My family lived there for about 30 years from 1884 to 1918 when my Great, Great Grandfather died and his widow moved out. They were living in the house definitely in 1901 so Eliza Rollason did not, unless she was staying there as a visitor? But that is not a family name, maybe she was a governess?

The name was Daniel Causer and his wife was Sara, he was the director of the Birmingham based business Hopkins Causer and Hopkins. The house I am told was sold to an American who took it down brick by brick and moved it to the USA in 1932. Sadly very difficult to trace it as they would have changed the name of the property no doubt.

I attach a photo of the beautiful Wood End House as it was known at this time, but previously it was known as Pype Hall as already stated

.View attachment 141012
Would love to hear more

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
This is a nice old one....and it's grounds remain....

Bournbrook Hall
If you go exploring around the Bournville area, one of the old remnants of George Cadbury's original village design is an ornamental pool situated at the far end of the old Girls' Recreation Ground off Bournville Lane.

It was originally a quite retreat for female employees at Cadbury's, framed by the rural landscape of the early 1900s.
Near to the pool was also a walled-garden, which is still there today, and gives the sense that the area was once the grounds of an eighteenth-century villa. This villa was sometimes called Bournbrook Hall, at other times Bournbrook House, and occasionally Barnbrook, but the park around the pool was once its grounds, and the pool itself was its cellar.

The house was still standing when the Cadbury's arrived, where it was situated on Bournville Lane, facing the men's sports grounds. The Cadbury's bought the Bournbrook Hall estate in 1895, which included lands which later became both the 'mens'' and 'girls'' grounds. The walled-garden which survives was the kitchen garden, and the premises also had stables, which are still standing, and Grade II listed, although getting little care and attention at present. The map shows the area in the 1880s, just as Cadbury's was moving in.

Bounbrook Hall was a gentleman's residence, and would have been a fine building in its day.

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Peddimore Hall...

The name Pedimor was first recorded 1298. This settlement on which it sits, was on 'Pede's marshland', a named derived from Old English Peoda's (a personal name pronounced Pedder) mor.

The old Peddimore Hall, according to Sir William Dugdale in his Antiquities of Warwickshire published in 1656, was then nothing but a deserted ruin surrounded by a moat. It had been built as a prestigious house half-way between Wigginshill and Walmley for a branch of the powerful Arden family in the twelfth century. The hall was built within the moat on a raised platform – this platform was made from the material excavated to make the double moat, or moat and fishponds. This raised the level of the ground inside the moat to give dry foundations for the hall, and the digging of the moat helped to drain the surrounding waterlogged land so that it could be brought into cultivation.

Peddimore was part of the Castle Bromwich Hall estate which was purchased by Sir Orlando Bridgeman in 1657. It was sold to William Wood, a relative of George Pudsey of Langley Hall, who built a new Peddimore Hall on the site of the old one in 1659. The design of the building has been attributed to the nineteen-year-old William Wilson, a stone-mason from Leicester where the family had connections. The new Hall has some features in common with Wilson’s splendid Moat House in Lichfield Road, and incorporates some of the Palladian rules of proportion popularised in England by Inigo Jones thirty years earlier.

The present hall is a double-range brick building with stone quoins, and is the result of a very extensive re-building in 1810, when the original house was about to fall down. An eighteenth century illustration of Peddimore Hall in the Aylesford Collection at Birmingham Reference Library shows a building of quite different appearance from today’s house, so much so that its identity has been questioned. Some of the details in the old illustration, such as the rather crude mullion and transom windows and the pediment above the doorway with its inscription “Deus noster refugium” show that it almost certainly is Peddimore Hall. The work of 1810 has removed the fancy gables and given the hall a plain roof, but traces of the huge crack in the frontage of the old building can still be seen today.

This private house, a Grade II Listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument, may be seen from a public footpath off Peddimore Lane which passes nearby.

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Longdon Hall...Copt Heath, Solihull/Knowle....

According to Joy Woodall and Mollie Varley, in their book Solihull Place Names (1979), the first record of Longdon was as Langedone, meaning 'long hill' in 1086. The long hill in question was what is now Solihull's Marsh Lane and Yew Tree Lane, leading from the River Blythe up onto Elmdon Heath. However, the Manor's seat was at its fringe on Copt Heath. This was the moated Longdon Hall set where it stands today in the heart of the Golf Course.

In the 1800s ownership of Longdon Hall and with it lands stretching from Malvern Park to Copt Heath, passed to Ann Millbank Noel, wife of Lord Byron, her family having owned the estate since the 1600s. Although Lord Byron died in 1824, she lived until 1860 and regularly visited her estate. However, as tenants were resident in Longdon Hall, she frequently stayed at The Mermaid, built as a coaching inn on the turnpike to Warwick and now known as The Greswolde Arms Hotel.

When, much later, a country lane within that estate leading from the Warwick Road to Tilehouse Green was developed with housing, it was named Lady Byron Lane. Then, in the 1980s, a small but prestigious new housing development was planned off Jacobean Lane. The new road was named Queen Eleanors Drive.

Meanwhile, ownership of Longdon Hall passed to the adjacent Golf Club, who let it for a prolonged period, during which a lack of investment took its toll. In 2011 it was sold to new owners, who are committed to its restoration.

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Ravenshaw Hall...Solihull..

The name Ravenshaw means “the wood of the ravens” and was first recorded in 1591. It was part of the Manor of Longdon that, together with the Manor of Ulverlei, formed Solihull in the 12th century.

The ford across the River Blythe at Ravenshaw has been a favourite local beauty spot for many years and the rustic pedestrian bridge featured on many local postcards, particularly from the Edwardian era. Local people have fond memories of the area:

“Long walks around Solihull were popular, especially to Ravenshaw, where picnics could be held, and paddling in the River Blythe and fishing for tiddlers with a net or minnows with a line or for an occasional roach.”

The actress Stephanie Cole was born in Solihull in 1941 and lived here until the age of about three or four. Photographs from about 1943 show her at Ravenshaw with her mother, grandmother and other family members and she has vivid memories of the woods and the ford. During a visit to Solihull in May 2008 to open the newly-refurbished Knowle Library she revisited Ravenshaw with the Mayor and Mayoress of Solihull.

Ravenshaw is still popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders, and improvement work was carried out in 2007 by Solihull Council and volunteers from the Birmingham and Solihull Midweek Conservation Group.

The earliest photograph of the bridge at Ravenshaw that we have in the collection at Solihull Heritage & Local Studies Service is dated 1891. This bridge had been replaced by 1905 by a new bridge that, with some repairs, seems to have lasted for at least 60 years. A newspaper article from 1946 states that Birmingham Civic Society had given Solihull Council £50 for the maintenance of the bridge, as they were keen to see it preserved for as long as possible. There had been rumours (unfounded according to the newspaper) that the bridge was to be replaced. It looks as if the same bridge (presumably having been repaired over the years) was still there in 1979.

The present bridge was installed in March 1987, at a time when work was carried out landscaping the area. Gates were added, as were parking areas and turning points, and the ford was closed to traffic.

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Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Touchwood Hall

Touchwood Hall was situated at the north end of Drury Lane (near to the site of Beatties today) and was built in 1712. The source of the name is unknown but may have replaced an earlier moated house on the site. A 17th century garden wall and belvedere indicated an earlier dwelling on the site. Touchwood Hall was the home of the Holbeche, Madeley and Martineau families in turn.

Touchwood Hall stood in Drury Lane for over 250 years until its demolition in 1963 to make way for the Mell Square development. By the time of its demolition, the house was derelict, although it was argued by some that the walls, floors and ceilings were mostly sound. There were hopes that the hall could be restored in the same way as the Manor House had been almost 20 years before. However, suggestions that it could be retained as a museum or meeting place came to nothing and a compulsory purchase order was taken out on the building prior to its demolition.

The name lives on in Touchwood Hall Close, off Lode Lane, and also in the new shopping centre, which opened in September 2001.

The painting of the Hall door is by Arthur Capon....dated 1950...

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Touchwood Hall Door Arthur Capon 1950.jpg
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Master Barmmie
1962...Georgian House fittings preserved. Including corner cupboard, Dutch tiles from fireplaces, shutters, Doors.

Certain relics preserved at the Manor House in High Street.

Dennis Williams

Proud Brummie
Knowle Hall
The name Knowle is derived from the Saxon 'Cnolle' which means a small hill. It appears in documents as 'Gnolle' 'Knolle', 'Knole' and 'Knoll' before the present spelling became standard from about the mid-19th century.

At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, Knowle was a hamlet within the parish of Hampton-in-Arden and is not separately recorded. It became a separate parish in 1859.

The first record of Knowle is a document from about 1200 in which William de Arden conveys the 'whole town of Gnoll' to his wife Amice de Traci. Knowle became a Royal Manor in 1285 when the de Arden family sold it to King Edward I and Queen Eleanor. After the queen's death in 1290, King Edward gave the Manor of Knoll to the Abbot and Priors of Westminster and instructed that masses be said for the soul of Queen Eleanor.

Knowle is a delightful village in which to reside retaining much of its High Street charm with old dwellings, yet conveniently placed for access to Solihull (two miles), Birmingham (ten miles) and Stratford upon Avon (fifteen miles).

The first Knowle Hall was built to the design of Inigo Jones (1573-1652), the work being commissioned by Sir Fulke Greville, the first Lord Brook. It had two magnificent Oak staircases richly carved and decorated and an elaborately ornamented Oak wainscot in the hall. The rich plaster work of the ceilings was like that in Warwick Castle. In 1597 it was known as Knolle Haul.

Knowle Hall, would have been part of Knowle Manor Estates and the hall was passed down to various families over the decades. In 1829 the families of Wilson and Wigley obtained an Act Of Parliament authorising the estate to be divided and the Knowle portion then passed to the Wilsons. The best known of the Wilsons was William Henry Bowen Jordan Wilson, who inherited the manor after his Fathers accidental death whilst out shooting. William Wilson became Lord of the Manor of Knowle and the owner of large estates in Gumley, Northamptonshire and was known as Squire 'Gumley' Wilson, the black sheep of the family! He was also master of the North Warwickshire and Aberston Fox Hounds and kept his horses at Knowle Hall where there was good stabling. In 1831 Squire Gunmley decided the Hall was to dilapidated to repair and the greater part was pulled down, He seemed to make and lose fortunes at will, but the present Knowle Hall was built in 1841 along with a row of cottages in Wilsons Road. The Wilsons Arms (formerly The Rising Sun Inn) also bears his name. The hall at that time was built as a new classical house set amidst terraced gardens designed to an Italianate mood.

Particular note at this time was the galleried hall complete with painted decorated and white marble statuary.
Squire Gumley Wilson was wildly extravagant and sold the Knowle Hall Estate in 1849 to Robert Emilius Wilson (no relation of Gumley) before bolting to America and for a time the estate became separated from the manorial rights. The estate was subsequently sold by the Wilsons and purchased by Mr George Alan Everitt in 1865. He was descended from a North Yeoman family and subsequently Knowle Hall was inherited by his Son, Major sg Everitt and grandson Horace, only being sold after the latter's death in 1982. Interestingly, Mr Horace George Everitt wrote the words to the Solihull School song.

In 1994 a fragment of the Greville Crest was found during a dig carried out by the Solihull Archaeological Society at Knowle Hall and finds also included coins and pottery.

(Extracts taken from 'Eva Wootton', 'A History of Knowle', 'CountryHouses of Warwickshire 1800-1939' by Geoffrey Tyack and 'Around Knowle & Dorridge' by Charles Lines)

Knowle Hall, as can be seen above, has a fascinating and chequered history and occupies a wonderful setting down a long driveway from the Kenilworth Road with magnificent southerly views to the rear over adjoining pastureland. The advent of Knowle Hall on the open market, presents a wonderful opportunity for the restoration enthusiast to create an outstanding home with classical proportions and having some original wall paintings and intricately carved ceilings.

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