Thursday, 26 September 2013

Hidden Gem of Birmingham – Thursday 26th September 2013

This morning we set off for Aston Hall walking to Livery Street next to Snow Hill Station to catch the No. 7 bus to the Trinity Road/ Witton Lane bus stop. The buses run every 10 minutes and it is about a 15 minute ride. We walked down Trinity Road to the Aston Villa Football Ground which has at its entrance a statue of William McGregor who founded the Football league in 1888. I would think that the ground is unique in that one of the stands is actually built across Trinity Road.
Aston Villa
We walked up the hill opposite through the park which was once part of the grounds of the estate and came to the very impressive Aston Hall. Either side of the central clock tower is an exact copy of the other and inside a model is set up with a mirror so that you can see how accurate it is.
Sir Thomas Holte enclosed Aston Park around 1620, consisting of approximately 300 acres of woods and scrub land mainly to be used for deer hunting. The house was started in 1618 and he took up residence in 1634. It was built to show off his great wealth. After a loss of fortune the house had to be sold some 200 years later and was leased by James Watt Junior. During his time here he even had a road specially built to take him to the works in Soho.
When he died in 1848 the house was offered to Birmingham Corporation but they were unwilling to buy it so portions of the 300 acres were sold off for housing development. Later in 1864 the Corporation eventually bought the house with 43 acres of parkland. The northern part was made into pleasure gardens and a fairground in 1873 and towards the end of the century was taken over by Aston Villa Football Club.
The house and immediate grounds have been looked after by the Corporation and it is a tribute to them how good they are today. Below are a few examples of the rooms open to the public.
Aston Hall Rooms
Here is the Butlers room on the left and the maids quarters in the attic on the right. What a difference position made.
Butlers and servants Rooms
In the kitchen is the usual work tables and a fire place with spit which is turned by a gear mechanism driven from a fan in the chimney.
I have included these pictures to show how the newel post on the stairs was splintered when hit by a canon ball during the Civil War and a sedan chair used in the early days.
Staairs and Sedan
Overall it was an excellent visit and worth while taking time to travel out the short distance from the centre and the £3 entrance fee.
The night brings the new Library to life adding anew dimension to the area. Here on the left is the front view, on the right it is looking at the Symphony Hall and Rep with the star lights under the Library canopy. Below are the rear views of the library.

1 Library at night
There were some very late travellers up the Farmers flight tonight with the last arriving in the dark at 9.00 pm. Fortunately the lights in Cambrian Wharf and around onto the main line helped him find a mooring.
2 Late night arrival

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