10 November 2011

The Halls

I hope everyone remembered to look at their clocks at 11.11 on 11.11.11.
Still in old buildings mood, these pictures were taken over the years, all except Ragley Hall. I can't remember who took that one.

Aston Hall
(5 minutes walk from my childhood home. As kids we played in the grounds and occasionally managed to get inside.)

Aston Hall is a magnificent seventeenth century red-brick mansion situated in a public park on the north side of Birmingham . The Hall was built for Sir Thomas Holte and was one of the last great Jacobean houses to be built. The layout of rooms is largely unchanged, and they are linked by the original imposing grand stairs and splendid Long Gallery.

The house still retains many early seventeenth century decorative features in stone, plaster and wood. Later members of the Holte family made some changes to the house towards the end of the seventeenth century and into the eighteenth century. Aston Hall was last lived in as a home by James Watt Junior, leaving evidence of early Victorian fashions.

I imagine the occupants would turn in their graves if they knew that the hall now faces the rear of Aston Villa football ground. I won't go into that, save to say the kids had a wonderful time climbing the high wall to watch matches.

Baddesley Clinton Hall

Baddesley Clinton Hall was originally a 13th century fortified manor house, founded by Thomas de Clinton. The rectangular platform encased by a wide revetted moat, now supports the remains of a 15th century stone quadrangular strong house, founded by the Brome family. The east range is flanked by a two storey gatehouse, with four gunloops but the original hall in the north range has disappeared. To the north and north east are the linear depressions and undulations of The Forecourt, medieval building ranges, which were dismantled during the early 18th century.

Blakesley Hall, an Elizabethan Farmhouse

One of the few timber framed buildings left in Birmingham, the Hall was built in 1590 for Richard Smalbroke junior, who wanted to reflect his growing prosperity with a new and comfortable home. For example, the Hall contains a ‘long gallery’ of the type normally reserved for much grander houses and decorative wall paintings. Blakesley Hall is a fine example of the homes of the aspiring Tudor middle classes.

In the 1930s, the Hall became a museum and both central heating and toilets were installed altering the layout of the ground floor. Restoration has involved removing these to reinstate the ‘Great’ and ‘Little’ Parlours. In these rooms, the family would dine, separately from their servants, perhaps entertaining guests. They would also read, prepare accounts and write letters here away from the daily bustle of the rest of the household.

My school organised outings to Blakesley (this too was quite near where I lived) where we were shown how food was prepared and cooked in the old kitchens. There was some suggestion that the place was haunted but I never saw a ghost when I went there. Maybe it ate too much food and slept a lot.

Ragley Hall

Designed in 1680 by Robert Hooke, Ragley Hall is the family home of The Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford. The Great Hall, which is two storeys high, has some of England´s finest baroque plasterwork by James Gibbs. The famous mural `The Temptation´ by Graham Rust is in the south staircase hall, and family portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the drawing room. There are fine collections of Sheraton and Louis XVI furniture and Minton, Copeland and Meissen china amongst others. The stables house a collection of carriages from the 18th century, and equestrian equipment.

New Hall Mill
(2 to 3 minutes walk from my house)

(It's not exactly a Hall but the word is in it's name so I thought I'd include it)

The New Hall Mill is a grade 2 listed building, and just one of two surviving water mills in the Birmingham area. Painstakingly restored to a working condition over a number of years and is a fine local example of our industrial heritage. Watermills were once a common sight along Birmingham's rivers; it is estimated that in the 18th century there were over fifty the area. However, of all Birmingham's watermills, only Sarehole Mill and Newhall Mill survive as standing buildings with working water-driven machinery.


  1. Thank you for highlighting these houses. Believe it or not I didn't know any of them, and I am interested in places like this. The Birmingham area is one I don't really know - which is odd since it is so near to London. I should pay a visit.

  2. Hi Jenny. When we finally get the high speed network rail London will be even closer to us - time-wise.
    The buildings are quite local to me, hence the pride.

  3. Hi Valerie,

    No, I missed looking at the clock at 11:11. But, I did see some of the Armistice ceremony held at the Arch of Triumph in Paris.

    Thinking that the celebration is as formal in the UK. I always sneak in some thoughts for a Grandad that I never knew. He was a WW1 participant in the US Navy.

    Have a nice day.

  4. Hi Barb. I didn't get back from shopping in time to see the ceremony on television. I will see some of it later though. WWI is such a long time ago, I'm glad you still think of your grandfather.

  5. it is only 7 AM here so i still have houses...esp the timber lined one...

  6. Love these photos.. how wonderful to have
    such visual history so close.. great places to visit and reflect.

    Happy Veterans Day !!

  7. Those are some very impressive "halls" !!

  8. MAGNIFICENT captures, Valerie!


    You see, this is what I LOVE about European countries - the rich and glorious history! I truly think I'm an old soul who once had an incarnation in Europe, because I can so totally feel what it's like to be there.

    Yes, it's funny you mentioned 11.11.11, because when published my post last night for today, I saw it on my blog editor and thought, "How cool!"

    Thank for sharing this wonderful post, dear lady.

    Thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Have a lovely weekend.....X

  9. I love old buildings, especially Elizabethan. :)

  10. Hi Brian. Timber lined buildings are my favourites too.

    Thank you, Faye. I'm truly blessed to live in an historic area.

    Thanks, Mona. They are impressive, aren't they?

  11. Hey Ron, I think you would love it over here. There is so much to see. I wonder if you ever get a longing to visit.

    Pearl, there's beauty in your part of the world as well... I know, I've been there.

  12. What a lovely tour of all these old houses. I can understand your pride in these places. I remember going to some beautiful old homes growing up in the Midlands. A lot of history there. Lovely post, thanks.

  13. Oh my.....

    See, I never bothered with the changing of the guards or any of that touristy stuff......none of my trips to England were about that. I did manage Prince Albert Hall--but I adored just a walk down High Street anywhere. The buildings, the history--himself laughs at what we refer to as 'antiques'. It blows me away that there are 12th century ANYthings....just standing there.... Wow......

    The photos you posted give me that same sense of 'wow.......'
    That's a cool thing--so thank you.

  14. Hi Denise, it's lovely that you had the pleasure of visiting the old places. I wonder if I would miss it if I went overseas to live.

  15. Hi Mel. I know what you mean. The changing of the guard wasn't for me either, but I do love the atmosphere of the 'back streets'. We do pageantry quite well, but I'd rather watch that on television than stand in a crowd trying to see what's going on.

  16. Gorgeous photos. Wow! This really makes me want to visit your wonderful country even more. I appreciate your sharing these treasures here with us.

  17. Thanks for the tour! These are all different and beautiful.

  18. Kelly, I would you to visit my country. There is so much to see. We always have a yen to visit other countries, don't we?

  19. Hi Pat, I'm pleased you liked the Halls. Those are just a few local ones, there are many more in the rest of the country.

  20. They are such great buildings. Your history of course is older than ours and you don't tear things down after things turns 100 years old like we do.


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