Another Country House in the heart of Birmingham comes as a welcome surprise to the visitor to this industrial centre of England. It would seem that the city delights in gently surprising us. It is a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.
In the area around Blakesley hall time seems to have stopped and we leave far behind us the overtly modern, nondescript constructions of steel and cement, which over the decades, the city has accumulated in the name of "progress".
Blakesley Hall is a Grade II Listed building located in the Yardley area. It is one of the few black and white timber-framed buildings left standing in the city and dates from Elizabethan times. In fact it is the finest Elizabethan building in the city.
Blakesley Hall, like Aston Hall, now belongs to the City of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and vast restoration work has recently been completed in an attempt to recapture the atmosphere of the 17th century and to reconstruct the original layout of the building after inappropriate alterations in the first half of the 20th century. It was reopened to the public in May 2002
The original owner of the house was Richard Smalbroke, a wealthy merchant and farmer. It was built in 1590 and remained in the family until it passed into the hands of the Greswoldes in 1685. It was then occupied by tenant farmers and, as happens in most of these cases, settled into a steady period of neglect until a certain Henry Donne decided to purchase the property and renovate it in 1899-1900. The house then became the property of a local manufacturer before being taken over by the City of Birmingham and transformed into a museum in the 1930s.
The pattern of the timber-framed ground floor was originally all close studding, part of which has still survived; the first floor is herring bone and the second floor has quadrant bracing.
The original layout of the ground-floor rooms has recently been restored and furnished with period furniture. The long table in the great hall is original but the rest has been reconstructed on the basis of an inventory dated 1684.
Upstairs are 16th century wall paintings which came to light in the 1950s.
Whoever decides to visit Blakesley Hall should go one step further, cross the main road near the Hall (Stoney Lane) and go beyond the houses and grass verge that flank the main road. There he will find a charming, unspoilt, village-like atmosphere, an unbelievable oasis far from the eyes of those who rush through life unaware of what is around them. This secluded spot is known as Old Yardley Village.
Postal address of Blakesley Hall:
Opening times are 11.30am to 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday
The Hall is open April to October
For more detailed information call:
Tel: +44 (0) 121 464 2193