Marcher lord Gilbert de Clare built a Motte and bailey castle a mile south of the current site in c.1110. It was called Castell Tan-y-castell, Aberrheidol Castle and Old Aberystwyth. The earth and timber castle was later reinforced with stone. The castle was captured by Owain Gwynedd in 1136 before changing hands at least three more times before being captured by Llywelyn the Great in 1221. The Welsh prince razed this castle and rebuilt another one in its place.
Aberystwyth Castle was not complete when the Welsh briefly captured and burned it in 1282. Later work was overseen by Master Mason James of St George. Construction ceased in 1289. The castle was subjected to a lengthy siege during the revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn in 1294-5. By 1307 a borough was thriving outside the castle walls in a town that was called in Welsh, Llanbadarn Gaerog (English: Fortified Llanbadarn). However historical accounts suggest that the castle had already begun to fall into disrepair by 1343. During the national uprising led by Owain Glyndŵr, the Welsh took possession of the castle in 1404. But the English soon recaptured the castle by 1408. In 1637 Aberystwyth Castle was designated as a Royal mint by Charles I which made silver shillings. The mint's operator raised a regiment of Royalist soldiers during the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell slighted the castle in 1649.
Castle Ring is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Scientific Interest located near the village of Cannock Wood.
Little is known about the 1st people who lived at the site (around the year 500B.C). But its known the romans took the site over after it was left by its oringal builders, maybe as they were witness to the roman invading britan as the fort has amazing veiws from it's earth ramparts. some have said the oringal owners may have known as the Cornovii tribe. as their lands included cannock chase before the romans came to Britan.
Cornovil tribe history
The extent of the Cornovii tribal lands included all of Shropshire and most of Cheshire with parts of Western Staffordshire and eastern Clwyd and Powys. Much of this tribal land is hill country, especially the south-west, whilst the northern area is mostly glacial plain, covered by a glacial drift of sand, gravel and boulder clay which covers the underlying bedrock to a depth of 45 metres in places. The landscape is broken by red sandstone ridges running from north-east to south-west. The north-west part of the county is covered by meres and pools, the residues of lakes and great bogs which were very attractive to native peoples of mid-late bronze-age, where they could retreat from the powerful iron-age folk pressing steadily from the south. Fish and wildfowl were in plenty and the native folk used dug-out canoes, net sinkers and bone harpoons to hunt them. The large areas of sand and gravel alluvial deposits would have been covered by a light scrub, easily cleared for cultivation, and for this reason, the area has been widely settled since the stone-age. There exist a very few possible bronze-smelting sites indigenous to the area, working for a small settled populace.
There was no tribal centre prior to Roman times, which has been taken to mean that the tribe lead a mainly pastoral lifestyle. This has been substantiated by the lack of any pottery finds associated with the tribe, even though there are ample deposits of clay within their lands. This aceramic culture may be taken as an indication of a nomadic lifestyle, as any pottery vessels would be quickly broken as the people travelled about the landscape. The tribe had no coinage and no distinctive metalwork, with what little pottery they had being imported from the Malvern hills region. There are some sites however, where local potteries have been found, such as the Berth and Breidden hillforts, and possibly Credenhill in the west. The other significant cultural detail is the manner of defences and gateways in hillforts on both sides of the Severn, and linked to those of the Wye valley in the south. The first mention of the tribe occurs in the works of Claudius Ptolemaeus or Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D.:
The Romans at cannock Chase.
During the Roman period most of Cannock Chase remained untouched, though that is not to say that the Roman's presence was unfelt in the area. After the initial invasion of mainland Britain by the legions of emperor Claudius in the summer of AD43, the Romans consolidated their hold upon the relatively wealthy and more civilised Belgic states in the south-east before advancing with the Fourteenth Legion through the neighbourhood to the immediate south of Cannock, along the line which would later become the major military highway known as Watling Street.
In order to maintain communications along their roads the Roman army established fortified outposts at regular intervals where military couriers could obtain a change of horses and perhaps a meal before continuing on their journey. The smallest of these stations were called mutationes (after the Latin word mutatio 'changing') and would provide the most basic of requirements. A more refined establishment which offered rooms both for administration and for accommodation, often sporting underfloor heating and bath-houses, were called mansiones, from which we have derived the modern English 'Mansion' or baronial dwelling. There are examples of both of these types of Roman 'road station' in the Cannock Chase area, a mansio at Wall south of Lichfield and a mutatio at Water Eaton south of Penkridge.
Letocetum - The Grey Woods
The first Roman fort in the area was undoubtedly sited at a major junction in the Roman road network at Wall on the Chase's south-eastern borders, just to the north-west of the Watling Street's crossing with Ryknield Street. The surrounding countryside was evidently well wooded at the time, because the Romans called the place Letocetum, which stems from the Ancient Celtic words leito-keito meaning 'the Grey Woods', which translates into Modern Welsh as llwyd-coed. The Romano-British settlement at Wall included a Mansio, a bath-house and several Romano-British temples.
Pennocrucium - The Head of the Ridge
The second Roman site on the Chase was located some thirteen miles west along the Watling Street at Water Eaton, where the military road crossed the River Penk. This station was named Pennocrucium, which is a straight Romanisation of the Celtic name for the general area, from the words penn-crug meaning 'the Head of the Ridge', which translates into Modern Welsh as pen-crib. This name refers to the ridge of land to the north of the military highway on the west bank of the river, after which geoglogical feature the river itself later came to be named. The settlement was very small, even by Roman standards, though it probably contained a military-run mutatione of some description.
Astral search uk wish to thank Cannock chase history for their input to the information on cannock chase used by us here.
The first recorded document that speaks of the mount pleaseant is from 1835 when a Mr Richard Dean converted his private home into a public house house and brewery that he called the mount pleasent House. This was to servethe people who now worked on the new cannal that had been just built in wombourne. Before this time it was also agaist the law to sell acholeic drinks to the public but a new law came that granted a person the right to apply for a drinks licence to serve the public.
Before this time records are rare about this building's past with some documents stating the location has been used as a coaching inn a brothel as well as sevrail private houses including a manor house where the currant building now stands.
Dunn's Bridge over the junction of Bumble Hole Branch Canal on the left with Bumble Hole Bridge on the right. The bridges were constructed in 1858 and were cast at the Toll End Works in Tipton.
The bridge became known by its name in the 1800's when a local and uk known medium Theophilus Dunn took his life aged 60yrs at the site. After many years helping people find their lost property and telling fortunes for them. He once said that everything he said would come true, even predicting his own death at the site years before it happened. When the day came and in the evening he was still alive he hung himself from the bridge so for one last time his fortune telling came true.
The location is also known as Devils Bridge again after Theophilus Dunn who was known in the area as the Dudley Devil.
St Michales Church
St. Michael's sits on top of a hill and is a large Georgian church, built in 1765, it's plain exterior belies the beauty of it's interior. Originally part of the parish of St. Mary's Kingswinford, St. Michael's became a parish in its own right in 1842 and is now part of the Brierley Hill Team Parish formed in 2007.
World War II
Designed by Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners, the Drakelow Tunnel Complex (originally called "Drakelow Underground Dispersal Factory") was excavated during World War II in sandstone hills near the village of Kinver and the town of Kidderminster. It was originally constructed as a shadow factory for the Rover car company who were at the time manufacturing engines for the Bristol Aeroplane Company. It was also intended to supply components to Rover's main shadow factories at Acocks Green and Solihull, to supply spare parts, and to act as a backup facility if either of the main shadow factories was damaged by enemy action.
The cost of the facility was originally estimated at £285,000, and construction, which began in June 1941, was expected to take just one year. In the event, the underground factory achieved full production in May 1943 and the final cost exceeded £1,000,000.
The site consists of numerous tunnels that stretch for around 3.5 mi (5.6 km), although public access on tours is limited to less than a quarter of the site.
The tunnels contained dormitories, storage areas, workshops, electrical equipment, toilets, offices, a BBC studio, a GPO Telephones communications facility and other facilities.
During the 1950s and the growing Cold War, the site was initially used by the Ministry of Supply for storage.
Then around 1958 part of the site was developed by the Home Office as a Regional Seat of Government (RSG9). It was publicly exposed in a demonstration held there by the West Midlands Committee of 100 in the summer of 1963. Under later Home Defence schemes the bunker was designated a Sub-Regional Control (SRC), Sub-Regional Headquarters (SRHQ) and finally Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ).
The site was greatly modernised in the early 1980s, only a small portion of the site was designated for use. New blast doors were fitted in place of the previous wooden factory doors and the interior of the site was refurbished in the areas forward of tunnel 4.
In about 1990 there was a plan to move the RGHQ to a much smaller bunker, formerly used by UKWMO, at Lawford Heath near Rugby. In the end this never happened, and the Drakelow site was decommissioned and sold in around 1993.
Following the complex's move into private hands there were plans to redevelop the Drakelow site into a residential and commercial park. This would have involved demolishing the complex completely, leaving a site of historical importance lost forever. The plans met with local opposition and a Preservation Trust was quickly established by residents and other interested parties to fight the planned redevelopment. It was successful; however, it is feared that further plans for redevelopment will be submitted in the future.
Holy Trinity churchyard
The monks seem for the most part to have led a quiet uneventful life under the protection of the great house to which they were so closely united. On various occasions they made known their grievances. The archbishop of Canterbury, in 1281, wrote to the bishop of Salisbury respecting a complaint of his neglect to institute to the church of Inkpen the clerk presented by the prior by the special concession of the archbishop to whom collation had 'hac vice' devolved, attributing this refusal to the false representations of a certain John Russel. The archbishop warned his suffragan to delay the matter no longer. The register of Bishop Giffard of Worcester records that the monks of Dudley in 1274 presented the rector of the church of Wyn', Lincoln diocese, to the church of Northfield to be held by him 'in commendam' on account of the poverty of the rectory. It is also recorded in the same register that the archbishop of Canterbury on 24 September, 1292, confirmed sentence of excommunication passed upon brother Robert de Mallega, 'rector of the parish church of Dudley and prior of the same, for manifest offences. There appears to have been some trouble in connexion with the church of Northfield. On 3 March, 1292-3, person Malcolm de Harleye formally renounced a quarrel which he had with Peter de Estcot touching the church in question and undertook to procure a like renunciation from the prior and monks of Dudley. On the 7th of the same month he acknowledged receipt on behalf of himself and the religious men of the sum of twenty marks at the hands of two parties, one of whom was this same Peter de Estcot, in part payment of 100 marks in which the bishop of Worcester was bound by reason of certain business in connexion with the church of Northfield. The conservator of privileges of the Cluniac order in September, 1294, ordered the archdeacon of Worcester to annul the sentence of excommunication passed by the bishop of Worcester and Peter de Estcot, his chaplain, against the late archdeacon of Westminster, procured by the monks of Dudley; the reason for the sentence is not stated. The brethren contended with the abbot of Halesowen in 1297 for a fourth part of the chapel of Frankley as belonging to the church of Northfield. They were compelled however to relinquish this claim and to content themselves with the patronage of Northfield. Robert de Mallega, who gives the impression of an energetic head, occurs again in May, 1298, when his assent was given to the presentation by John Deobul of Suckley of a clerk to the rectory of Churchill near Kidderminster.
The prior of Dudley, like other superiors of Cluniac foundations, was probably suspected or implicated in the rebellion of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, in 1322; he was arrested 'for certain reasons' by the king's order, but released in October, 1323, and his goods restored.
The commissary-general acting for the prior of Worcester during a vacancy in March, 1338-9, reported that he had cited the prior of Dudley to appear to answer for his appropriation of an annual pension of six marks from the rectory of Northfield in the diocese of Worcester without sufficient title, and on his non-appearance had pronounced him in contempt and sequestered the aforesaid six marks. The bishop of Worcester in 1342 summoned the community to exhibit their title for the appropriation of the church of Dudley, which was allowed. In January, 1351-2, a certain Robert de Wymersfeld was attacked at the suit of William, prior of Dudley, for taking 'vi etarmis' goods and chattels belonging to the priory at Dudley, during a vacancy in the priory in 1349. Robert appeared in person, and denied the charge. The case was heard for the third time at Bromwich at Whitsuntide and a verdict given for the plaintiff.
Dudley though subordinate to the alien house of Wenlock seems to have escaped seizure into the king's hands during the French war, probably as being reckoned parcel of the estates of the lordship of Dudley. An entry in the patents under date of 7 July, 1346, states in reference to the church of Northfield that it was of the patronage of Dudley notwithstanding any right the king could claim therein. There is no record of its visitation by the delegates appointed for that purpose by the abbot of Cluny, or the prior of La Charité-sur-Loire to which affiliation it belonged, until the middle of the fifteenth century, when in a fragment enumerating the English and Scottish foundations of Cluny, apparently forming part of a report, it is stated that at the priory of Dudley there should be four monks, and two masses celebrated daily, one with music. The house being exempt from episcopal jurisdiction and visitation, entries relating to it in the registers of the diocese are rare, but occur occasionally. In April, 1400, the bishop confirmed an indenture between (1) Richard of Stafford, prior of Dudley, and his brethren; (2) the vicar of the church of Sedgeley, which was appropriated to the priory; and (3) the rector of the church or chapel of Darlaston, whereby it was agreed that the priory and convent should receive 10s. from the rector, and that vicar and rector should divide the offerings for the dead, the vicar receiving all the wax and candles. In February, 1402-3, the brethren obtained a certificate from the bishop for their appropriation of the parish churches of Sedgeley and Wombourn and an annual pension of 10s. from the chapel of Darlaston.
According to an entry in the patent roll of that year, on 14 July, 1421, the prior of St. Milburga, Wenlock, on the death of brother John Billingburgh, presented William Canke to the priory of St. James, Dudley, to whom the king gave up the temporalities which were in his gift by reason of the minority of John, son of Thomas Sutton, late baron of Dudley. His rule proved a very short one, and in the following October the prior of Wenlock presented three monks of his house to the king praying him to admit one of them to the priory, which was vacant by the resignation of William Canke, and the king admitted John Brugge. A charter and lease by this prior dated in the chapter house of Dudley the Feast of the Nativity of St. John Baptist, 1434, is still in existence. The inhabitants of Dudley in 1483 gave ' three score okes ' out of the forest of Kinfare towards the building of their ' chauncell.'
John Webley occurs as prior in the Valor of 1535, giving the annual value of the priory at £36 8s. 0d.; the pension list of the dissolved priory of Wenlock, 26 January, 1539-40, assigns a pension of £10 to Thomas Shrewsbury, prior of the cell of Dudley. The site of the priory was granted as parcel of the late monastery of Wenlock in Salop to Sir John Dudley in 1545.
Himley Plantation dates from the Eighteenth Century and was once part of the Estate of the Earl of Dudley. It is important urban fringe woodland lying in the green belt on the edge of the West Midlands conurbation, close to the village of Wombourne. Approximately 3 acres of the plantation is recent semi-natural. The wood is bisected by the well used Baggeridge Country Park railway line walk, along whose length (5 miles) this is the only major block of woodland. There is also a wide easement under the ownership of South Staffordshire Water which runs in an east-west direction across the northern portion of the wood. Surrounding land use is predominantly agricultural with a nursery/market gardening holding adjacent to a section of the south-east boundary of the site.
The main body of the site lies to the south of the railway line and is mature mixed high-forest woodland comprising largely of Oak, Sycamore and Common Lime with an under storey of Rhododendron and Sycamore regeneration. Within this area are four 0.25 acre regeneration coupes felled in the 1980’s, and four 0.5 acre coupes felled a few years later in two phases. Which were planted along with some open areas previously dominated by bracken, with a mixture of locally native species. The wood is more open along the western edge with scattered large oaks. To the south west is the site of a transient pond. The remainder of the woodland to the north of the railway walk was felled prior to Trust ownership in 1963 with the intention of conversion to agriculture, but this never took place and instead the wood was allowed to regenerate once again. A ditch dominated by Alder and Willow also runs through the site from the north east to south west and a very wet area at the south western edge alongside the railway embankment.
Himley Plantation is very well used by the public but also suffers from damage caused by unauthorised access in the form of off road bikes/horses etc. The public can enter the wood through a number of different access points; from the east leading off the car park down a short flight of steps on Baggeridge Country Park land and through a kissing gate to the south through two squeeze post entry points off the public highway at four further points either side of the railway walk as it bisects the site at three places through squeeze post entry point on the northern boundary off the main road in three places.
The Bratch is an area of Wombourne in Southern Staffordshire, England, noted for its industrial heritage and as a way station for walkers, riders and cyclists. Formerly, it was a small, separate hamlet, and became fully absorbed into Wombourne only in the 20th century. The name is derived from the Anglian dialect of Old English, in which the word brēc signifies newly-broken-in land. There are a number of Bratches in Staffordshire, e.g. near Enville and Norton Canes. In each case, they are near the edges of ancient forests, so a bratch was a new clearing in the waste.
The Bratch Locks are a noted feature of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, planned by James Brindley, and opened in 1772 as a three lock staircase. They were later re-engineered as three separate locks. They are served by two bridges, a toll house, and a keeper's cottage. The whole forms a well-preserved example of vernacular Georgian architecture and design, built of mellow local brick.
The removal of Hilton's house and builders yard, together with John Conway Fox’s butcher’s shop, made way for the Bull Ring's most dominant building. Started in 1936, and opened in May 1937, it was a state of the art cinema and flagship architectural creation. The sketch in the opening day programme captured the spirit of the new glittering edifice and the first film, ‘San Francisco’, starring Clark Gable, firmly placed the village on the 'cinema circuit'.
Such style lasted barely forty years before television emptied the seats and a bingo caller replaced the stars of the silver screen. The exterior became shabby as the 1970s bingo hall came to an end in about 1995. The rumours of sale or demolition again circulated.
Then new life was breathed into the shell in 1998 when Wetherspoon's, at a cost of £920,000, started to create a theme pub recalling the glory days of motion pictures. Once more the Clifton was well patronised and had enough traces of its 1930s appearance to please the preservation lobby!
St Johns Churchyard
(Dudley, West Midlands)
St Johns church was designed by the famed architect William Bourne who was responsible for many of the local landmarks in the region.William Bourne (1811 – 1870) was responsible for designing several of the most important buildings in Dudley including the original Dudley Town Hall complex and the Dudley Guest hospital – an enormous undertaking illustrating Victorian philanthropy at its best however both St Johns Church and the St Johns church schoolhouse located next to it are reputed to be the last remaining pair of William Bourne buildings in existence.
Start of the priory
The origins and exact date of foundation of the priory are not known. The surviving ruins show work typical of the late 12th century, and the first documentary evidence dates from 1186 or earlier. In it, Emma, daughter of Reynold of Pulverbatch, in the process of giving land to Haughmond Abbey mentions that she has already granted land in Beobridge to the white nuns of Brewood. In fact, it was not, and never has been, in the parish of Brewood, which is in the neighbouring part of Staffordshire, not Shropshire: Brewood was simply the neares
The church building was a simple cruciform, sandstone structure, with a nave of five bays, and a chancel of three bays. The transepts were small and without chapels.Today, the lay-out of the building is still easy to discern, although little remains of either transept, and only the north wall of the nave and chancel is fairly intact. There is a fine, round-headed Romanesque arch leading into the north transept, through which the residents would have passed to reach the cloister and the convent. The windows on the north side are largely intact, making it easy to identify the bays of both nave and chancel. The south wall would have been windowed in the same way. It seems that the stone for the church was obtained locally - perhaps even in a field adjacent to the site, as one of the fish ponds seems to have been created from a quarry scoop.
The convent buildings are long-gone, and may have been timber-framed, but appear to have stood against the north wall of the church. Charles II commissioned a painting of the later house around 1670, and details of the painting suggest that it may have incorporated parts of the prioress's residence, which must have stood west of the the main convent buildings and cloister.[t village of any size. The priory was outside existing parishes and manors, so its location gives no clues to the identity of the founder.
The priory acquired the church and some tithes at Montford very early in its history. So it is possible that the Lacy family or the FitzAlans, who succeeded them as holders of the manor of Montford with Forton, may have been important in its founding.
The dedication was to Leonard of Noblac, a saint associated with the liberation of prisoners, who was extremely popular after a number of alleged miracles earlier in the 12th century.
Warstone Lane Cemetery
Keys Hill Cemetery
(Birmingham, West Midlands)
Warstone Lane Cemetery
Warstone Lane Cemetery, also called Brookfields Cemetery, or Church of England Cemetery, or Mint Cemetery, is a cemetery (1847) in Birmingham, England. Located in Hockley, the city's Jewellery Quarter, it is one of two cemeteries (the other being Key Hill Cemetery): the only open spaces in Jewellery Quarter. It is no longer available for new burials.
A notable feature is the two tiers of catacombs, whose unhealthy vapours led to the Birmingham Cemeteries Act which required that non-interred coffins should be sealed with lead or pitch.
The foundation stone for the chapel (demolished 1954) was laid on 6 April 1847. The blue brick lodge gate (Hamilton & Medland 1948) building survives and is grade II listed. The cemetery is itself grade II on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.
Notable people buried there:
Keys hill Cemetery
Key Hill Cemetery, originally called Birmingham General Cemetery, a Nonconformist (non-denominational) cemetery, is the oldest cemetery (not being in a churchyard) in Birmingham, England. It opened on 23 May 1836. Located in Hockley, the city's Jewellery Quarter, it is one of two cemeteries there (the other being Warstone Lane Cemetery). It is no longer available for new burials.
Many of the fittings and memorials are of architectural and artistic merit - the entrance gates (piers by Charles Edge)[ and railings are Grade II listed. The Greek Doric chapel by Charles Edge has been demolished. The cemetery is itself grade II* on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. A campaign group, the Friends of Key Hill & Warstone Lane Cemeteries, lobby to have the cemetery restored. The entrance piers and gates on Icknield Street have now been restored
Notable people buried there:
The William Perry Investigations
Netherton canal Tunnel
During william perrys time as a boxer their was a man named Theophillus Dunn he was an early medium and used these gifts to find lost items and read peoples future charging what in mordern days would be a large sum Dunn lived nearby the location at derby end and did alot of his work at bumblehole. He became so well known and gained a good repution that local celebraties would come to him for their fountunes read.
It was cause of his repution william perry was talked into seeing the local medium and when he asked about his boxing he was told that after a fast rise to a champion he would lose it all to a small man with the letters T.S in his name. This he did not like to hear and scoffed at the medium before he left. After being a very popular championin england and getting the belt in a very short time he retied undefeated. Many years later he was talked into a fight for the belt agaist a much smaller younger man the slasher now alot older and slower than he used to be never backed out of a fight and put his entire fortune on the fight and his publichouse and after a fight that they say lasted 2 days he was beaten and lost it all the man who beat him was named Tom Sayer.
St Benedict Biscop
During medieval times Wombourne remained a small community of no more than a couple of dozen families, but gradually the church evolved, the wood or wattle and daub of Saxon times was replaced local sandstone. Georgian prints of the church from the beginning of the Nineteenth century show a typical small country church of nave, aisle, chancel, tower and spire.
The Nineteenth century was a time of great change. The Industrial Revolution changed many local villages into small towns and although this did not happen to our village the growth in populations meant that the medieval church was too small for local Christians and in 1840 nearly all the medieval church was swept away in favour of a splendid new edifice in the then fashionable Strawberry Hill gothic style. The 14th century tower with its recessed stone spire and three tiers of lucarns was retained and has now watched over our village for just under 700 years.
The early Victorians did not build well and only twenty years later a new Vicar of Wombourne, the Reverend William Heale. came to the parish A graduate of Wadham College Oxford he had been influenced by the catholic revival led by John Keble, John Henry Newman and Edward Pusey. He was determined to restore and renew St Benedicts's according to ancient principals and engaged the Oxford architect George Street to rebuild a larger Church. George Street recommended that most of the church built in the 1840's be demolished and in its place he built a fine town church. Usually for Street the church is not in one particular style. Rather elements from different periods combine to give the impression of a church that has evolved across the centuries. So St Benedict's boasts a South aisle complete with lancet windows in the early English style, a chancel whose windows remind us of the thirteenth century and a south aisle with perpendicular windows that were popular on the eve of the reformation!
Our new church was consecrated by the Bishop of Rochester in August 1867. It has been difficult to improve on Street's design for our Church, over the last 150 years a Lady Chapel has been created in the north chapel, the vestry extended and the amount of fixed seating has been reduced. Not much change for 150 years !
Hagley wood & Wychbury hill
Hagley Wood is part of the Hagley Hall estate belonging to Lord Cobham. By day it is a beautiful if lonely spot, at night, however, engulfed in the ghostly shadows of the Clent Hills, the atmosphere is somewhat eerie. The place supposedly has a reputation for strange events, and perhaps none were stranger than what transpired there one sunny April day more than 60 years ago.
On 18 April, 1943, four teenage boys from nearby Stourbridge, Robert Hart, Thomas Willetts, Bob Farmer and Fred Payne, were in the woods poaching. They came upon an old hollow wych-hazel (which because of its large size and ancient appearance has been mistakenly called a wych-elm down the years) and decided it would be an ideal place to search for birds' nests. Bob Farmer attempted to clamber up into the tree, but as he glanced down inside the hollow trunk he suddenly saw the empty eye-sockets of a whitened skull, staring up at him from among the twisted branches.
At first he didn't realise what he was looking at and thought it must belong to an animal. But as he pulled the skull out from the gnarled branches and saw a small patch of rotting flesh on the forehead, the remains of some hair, and crooked front teeth, he realised what he'd found.
Horrified at the discovery and knowing they were in the woods illegally, the boys decided not to tell anyone about it. They put the skull back in the tree and quickly made their way home.
But the youngest boy, Tommy Willetts, felt uncomfortable about keeping such a secret and decided to tell his father what they'd found. Naturally his father then told the Worcestershire County Police Force, who went to the site the following morning. Inside and around the old tree they found not only the human skull, but an almost complete skeleton, a crêpe-soled shoe and some fragments of rotted clothing. During a careful search of the surrounding undergrowth a severed hand from the body was also discovered buried nearby.Wychbury Hill
It is divided between the parish of Hagley and former parish of Pedmore. It is one of the Clent Hills. The hill offers good views across the Severn Valley as far as the Malvern Hills and Clee Hills. It is the site of Wychbury Ring - an Iron Age hill fort - and the Wychbury Obelisk, and is much beloved of pagans, with the site containing a 28-tree ancient yew grove, and not because the name sounds like "witch". The name is actually unrelated, being derived from that of the Saxon subkingdom of the Hwicce.
On the flank of the hill is a folly in the shape of a Greek Doric temple, in fact a miniature replica of the end of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. Built in 1758, it was England's first example of Neoclassical architecture. The temple is currently in a seriously dilapidated and vandalised condition. It is a listed building on private land and permanently fenced off to the public.
In 1943, during World War Two, woman's body was discovered inside a wych elm tree in a wood near Wychbury Hill, on the Hagley Hall estate, prompting the intriguing graffiti "Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?". This message has reappeared in a variety of local places at intervals ever since, and as of 1999 the obelisk has borne the message "Who put Bella in the Witch [sic] Elm" (no question mark). The victim was never identified. It has sparked a lot of media interest over the years, featuring on the BBC's Inside Out TV program in the West Midlands.
Moreton Corbet Castle
Medival castle/TudorManor House.
The first recorded building at the site is writen as being in 1086 and being owned by anglo saxons Hunning and Wulfreat. The next entre dates as being ownded by a Peter Toret in 1166, when the site was known as Morten Toret castle. in 1216 the location was taken from Bartholomew Toret in the name of King John of England by William Marshall. In 1235 after being the location back to him Bartholomew Toret died leaving the castle to his son in law Richard de Corbet who renamed the location as Moreton Corbet Castle.
In the 16th Centuary Andrew Corbet added a new gatehouse and rebuilt the outer walls of the location.their is little in the form of written record about the site until 1579 when Robert corbet became the lord of the manor and again in 1583 when he died of plague that was sweeping throught the land at the time. The location then came into the hands of brothers Vincent and Richard de Corbet the location is still owned by the Corbet family but its taken care of by English hertiage.
The William Perry Investigations.
St Johns Churchyard
Built over 160 years ago st johns is part of a group of churchs in the area built to remember and celebrate Englands victory at the battle of Waterloo, these churchs are known as Waterloo churchs. The church has been closed since 2002 and faced been pulled down but was saved by locals who formed a Save St Johns group and gained the help of West Midland celebrity and historian Professor Carl Chinn.
The location is also the finale resting place of many famous black country people of the past. These include William Perry (a.k.a The tipton slasher) a famous boxer from the 1800's, Julie Hanson the wife and co founder of Hasons beer and Mary Ann Mason the only murder victim in the uk to have her killer named on her headstone.
Thornseat Lodge was originally built in 1855 as a shooting lodge for William Jessop steel maker. It became a children’s home in the 1930′s and remained such up until the early 1980′s Since then it has become derelict.
Thornseat lodge was sold in the mid 80′s to a local businessman, Doug Hague who owns it then he is a successful local business man who had a haulage/digger hire firm for many years. he has diversified into land and property over the recent years. he also owns the old waterworks, the old school and house and Wilkin hill centre and numerous other buildings around Bradfield. All, except the old school have had the roofs removed and just left to fall down The property is owned by Hague Construction according to Land Registry From what we understand, it has never belonged to the local authorities, but been in the posession of the Fitzwilliam (Wentworth) Estates, who are also responsible for the plantations around the lodge.
Although time has worn justly on the upstairs of the lodge, the cellars tell a very different and chilling story, but down there the grandeur of the lodge still remains, in a much less obvious way.Thornseat lodge is a dangerous place you cannot possibly get to the cellars without putting yourself in danger, especially from the asbestos requiring the wearing of a mask .
Thornseat lodge murders
The murders occured in the mid 80's and were committed by a Sheffield Solicitor called Wood. He murdered his French wife and daughter and then fled to France. He then climbed up a cathedral and threatened to jump. The crowd that gathered, shouted encouragement once they recognised him :-)
Sadly he failed to jump and was extradited back to Great Britain.
During the Second World War the nearby reservoir was used by pilots of the 617 Squadron for practising the low-level flights needed for Operation Chastise (commonly known as the "Dam Busters" raids), due to its similarity to the German dams. Occasional flypasts of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight are staged to commemorate this.
The Cannock Chase Project
Cannock Chase is located between Cannock, Lichfield, Rugeley and Stafford. It comprises a mixture of natural deciduous woodland, coniferous plantations, open heathland and the remains of early industry, such as coal mining. The landscape owes much to the underlying Triassic bunter formations. Cannock Chase was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on 16 September 1958 and is the smallest area so designated in mainland Britain, covering 68 km² (26 square miles). Much of the area is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Despite being relatively small in area, the chase provides a remarkable range of landscape and wildlife, including a herd of around 800 fallow deer and a number of rare and endangered birds, not least migrant Nightjars. A feeding station at the Marquis Drive Visitors' Centre, sponsored by the West Midland Bird Club, attracts many species, including Brambling, Yellowhammer and Bullfinch. Efforts are[when?] underway to increase the amount of heathland on the chase, reintroducing shrubs such as heather in some areas where bracken and birch forest have crowded out most other plants. The local flora also includes several species of Vaccinium, including the eponymous Cannock Chase Berry (Vaccinium x intermedium Rultie). In January 2009, an outbreak of Sudden Oak Death disease (Phytophthora ramorum) was discovered on the chase, at Brocton Coppice. This was wrongly identified as Phytophthora ramorum, and is in fact Phytophthora pseudosyringae. Various restrictions were put in place in an attempt to prevent its spreadThe area gained national notoriety in the late 1960s when the A34 Murders made national headlines; the remains of three young girls were found buried on the Chase after going missing from areas along the A34 road between there and Birmingham. Raymond Leslie Morris, a motor engineer from Walsall, was found guilty at Staffordlife imprisonment. He is still in prison over 40 years later as one of the country's longest serving prisoners. assizes of one of the murders in 1968 and was sentenced to
Castle Ring hill fort, although not yet dated, may be assumed to have been built over two thousand years ago, near the modern village of Cannock Wood. Standing at 795 feet (261m) above sea level, it is the highest point on Cannock Chase. This forest, now largely consisting of coniferous trees which would not have been in evidence at the time of the forts use, now closely surrounds the fort through 270º and so veils the panoramic view that it had in its heyday, when the trees would have been kept at a distance. Yet the northern aspect is unhindered and affords a fine view over the south-eastern corner of the Chase and the terrain beyond, though sadly a little blemished by the more recent addition of a coal power station at Rugeley, several miles distant. As is common with hillforts in the Midlands area, one fort can see several others on the horizon, and the occupiers of Castle Ring would have been able to see another fort, 4½ miles to the south, at Brownhills, and to the west as far as 20 miles to the Wrekin.
The fort at its widest point measures 790 feet (260m) across, and its interior encompasses some 8½ acres. It consists of a single, vaguely pentangular ditch, which, on the northern face, sinks to a depth of 12 feet (4m), though in most places it is a good deal shallower than this; the effects of two thousand years of erosion. A path, which was created in the Victorian era, sits on top of this rampart and follows it about the perimeter. Originally there was only one entranceway to the fort, although today this is not immediately apparent as a track cuts directly through the middle of it, from east to west, and makes it seem as though there are two entrances. The eastern entrance is the original one, the western was opened during the 19th Century to extend a trackway through to the hall at Beaudesert.
Castle Ring ceased to be occupied in 50 A.D. The reason is not known, though it may be assumed that the change in culture brought about by the Roman Invasion was a factor; tribal settlements situated on hills being at odds with Latin methods. During the 12th or 13th Century, a hunting lodge was established inside the fort and its foundations can still be made out in the eastern portion. At some stage, not at all certain when but perhaps during the Medieval period by their design, the eastern interior of the fort was ploughed and farmed.
Wombourne station opened in 1925 under the GWR on what is commonly termed 'the Wombourne Branch' which ran from the old OWWR line from Stourbridge to Dudley and joined the old GWR main line north of Dunstall Park. The photograph above looking down from the footbridge, taken from a postcard issued around the time of its opening, shows us that the station was originally known as 'The Bratch station', 'the Bratch' being a water course running near the site: this was quickly dropped in favour of a more geographical naming scheme. We can also see that, when compared with the other stops on the line, Wombourne was a station of some size (unlike the many halts on the route) with a water tower on the northbound platform and a signal box. However, the relative grandeur of the station did nothing to stimulate passenger growth and the station, as with the rest of the stops on the line, closed to passengers in 1932; a mere 7 years after opening. The line itself fared considerably better than the passenger services, however, and continued for goods traffic and as an avoidance line for Wolverhampton and finally closed in 1965. The trackbed is now utilised for the South Staffordshire Railway Walk.
The ruined, earthwork and buried remains of this Abbey. The religious order was originally founded in 1143 at Lizard and in 1144 it moved to Donnington Wood and then finally to currant location in 1148. The location was founded by Richard de Belmeis for canons of the Augustinian Order of Aras. The church was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. The east and south ranges of the claustral buildings containing the sacristy and chapter house, and the refectory, kitchen and warming room, respectively were built in the 12th century. The west range containing the abbot's hall and chamber and the outer parlour was built in the 14th century. The abbey was dissolved in 1538 by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and was later converted into a house by Sir Richard Leveson. This was fortified during the Civil War and besieged by Parliamentary forces in 1645.
The remains of the site include the ruined crossing, transepts, chapels either side of the chancel, west tower, nave and presbytery of the church and a fine example of a Transitional Norman doorway. The claustral buildings were arranged to the south and include the ruins of the vestry, cloisters, chapter house and frater. There are also traces of the precinct wall to the south and just to the north west of the site precinct there are two separate areas containing earthwork dams of two fishponds.
the location had two dependencies: Alberbury Priory and the Hospital of St John the Baptist in Bridgnorth.
Orgins of the Arrouaisian order
The Abbey of Arrouaise was the centre of a form of the Augustinian monastic rule, the Arrouaisian Order, which was popular among the founders of abbeys during the decade of the 1130s. The community began to develop when Heldemar joined the hermit Ruggerius in 1090 but its first abbot, elected in 1121, was called Gervaise. He impressed people who had the wealth sufficient to found an abbey, who usually had the secular power likely to go with their landed wealth.The abbey had originated as a hermitage. That had developed into a community which adopted the task of providing a service to travellers through the then, great Forest of Arrouaise in Artois. The order of Arrouaise was differentiated from others by being basically that of St. Augustine with the more restrained approach of the CisterciansCanons Regular. as a guide to its more austere philosophy. In general, as time passed, the distinction between the Augustinian and Arrouaisian orders was less likely to be made, so that now, as in their later years of life, Arrouaisian houses are often referred to as being houses of Augustinian
The Rocketpool Inn
Death at the pool
Work is also about to start on improvements at the Rocket Pool in Bradley where in 2004, 16-year-old Jason Mansell died after plunging into the pool while trying to save 14-year-old friend Luke Pattison.
(taken from the Express & Star newspapper and used by permission)
On the evening of 18th December 1812, a farmer, Benjamin Robins of Dunsley Hall, near Kinver, was returning home for Stourbridge Market, when he was shot in the back, and robbed, about half a mile (in the area now known as gibbet lane) from his home.
He was not killed outright, and reclaimed when shot “you rascal! Why did you not ask for my money, and not shot me”. He was later able to describe his assailant as “about five feet six or seven inches high, appeared rather clean and well dressed, having on a good hat and a long, dark coloured coat down to the calves of his legs. His legs a little bowed and he seems to walk wide”. Mr Robbins struggled home, and legend has it that bloods trails from his wounds could be seen on the staircase of the Hall.
Two surgeons from Stourbridge, Isaac Downing and John Causer testified, that, though after receiving the wound he walked home without appearing more fatigued than they found him. Nevertheless Mr Robins death had been occasioned by “a leaden bullet which had entered the middle of his back, just on the spine, and which was extracted from his right side about fourteen inches from the place it had entered. The person who fired it must have been near to, and behind him. He died 10 days after the attack aged 57, and, was buried at Enville Church on 1st January 1813.
The bullet remained in Downings possession. Dr. Causer continued to attend to Robins until his death. A reward of £100 was offered for the apprehension of the murderer, and the notice was stated that “on Friday evening, 18th December a little after 5pm, Mr Benjamin Robbins of Dunsley Hall Dunsley Kinver, returned from Stourbridge market, was accused by a man near the end of Mr Hill’s park, who walked and conversed with him as they passed along the public road till they came upon Dunsley Hill (n.t. not the area now generally known as Dunsley Hill – r.d.p.) where the man drew behind and shot Mr Robins in the back, and afterward robbed him of two ten pound notes of Messrs Hill and Co Stourbridge Old Bank, one point note of the Dudley Banks, together with shillings and a silver watch” Then followed the detailed description of the man his appearance given obviously by Mr Robins, in the four days before his death, who had put up the £100 reward.
The Scotland Yard of the day, the Bow street runners, were called in, and two officers we assigned to the case, named Samuel Thornton and Henry Adkins, known as “the little font”. Their investigations eventually pinpointed on a comparative stranger to the area, William Howe, alias John Wood a carpenter, and a long chain of circumstantial evidence was produced. On the day of the murder according to the publicans daughter Elizabeth Perrins, Howe had been at the Nag’s Head Inn at Stourbridge from one o’clock until between two and three o’clock, and then he ate a pork pie and drank two pints of ale. The publican’s son, Edward Perrins, had been in the kitchen at dinner time with the prisoner and others, and after his meal he returned to his work, the accused man accompanying him as far as New Street, the nearest road leading up to Dunsley and there they parted.
The prisoner proceeding towards Fir Tree Hill. But, the most extraordinary testimony at his subsequent trial was that which claimed that, in the evening of the robbery, Howe, was wearing a dark coloured coat, and went into the Angel public house at Stourbridge at about 6 o’clock.
According to John Bullock a shoe maker of Stourbridge, Howe remained about an hour, during which time the conversation in the pub related entirely on the outrage committed on Mr Robbins that afternoon. We were told that “Howe exhibited no symptoms of alarm, drank his ale composedly, and did not appear at all heated or flummoxed on a persons coming into the company and stating that the bullet had been extracted, and that Mr Robins was in a fair way of recovery, Howe remarked that “the man who shot him had not done his work effectively”.
It also appeared that Howe slept that night at The Duke William public house at Stourbridge, which he entered at about 9.30pm and remained there until between 7-8 o’clock the next morning. Before he went to bed, he remarked to the company who like folk, no doubt, in many meeting places in the pub were discussing the attack that he supposed that Mr Robins must have been shot by someone who knew him. Howe’s manner was entirely composed.
During the course of Howe’s trial, which took place at Stafford Assizes on Tuesday 16th March 1813, a carpenter, Japheth Patmore, who had worked with Howe at Lady Downshire’s at Ombersley, testified that Howe has left his work on 13th December and had returned to fetch his tools on the 23rd December. The Bow Street officers, Danston and Adkins, visited Worcester on 7th January and traced two boxes from Worcester to an address in London where they had returned on the 10th acting on information that they had gathered, at least they found the boxes at a lodging house in Bishops gate. Patiently the two men waited for someone to collect the boxes, and on 13th January William Howe turned up. He agreed that the boxes were his.
He changed his name to prevent his wife following him. He was taken into custody, and in his clothes box was found a screw barrel pistol, three bullets, a bullet mould and a fawn skin waistcoat, which, (evidence eventually revealed) he was wearing in the public houses in Stourbridge. When charged by the officers however, the prisoner told Adkins that he had never been in Stourbridge and that he had never heard of Mr Robins being shot.
He mentioned that he was in Kidderminster on that day. It is interesting to note that Adkins subsequently told the court that he expected a share of the £100 reward if the prisoner was convicted. At the time the case for the prosecution was put on by a Mr Pearson and a Mr Jervis that for the defence was read by a Mr Campbell. Upwards of thirty witnesses were examined and amongst them, we are told; the evidence of a ten year old girl was of great importance,
Several witnesses attested that a person identified as the prisoner was on the road when Mr Robins was shot, on that evening. It was snowing. He was seen to pull from the hedge a stick or a thorn, and then put something into his pocket. Though Hose decide to visit, Sarah Delves, who lived near the Gig Mill, testified that the prisoner, wearing a long dark coat had called at her home to borrow a pin, evidently with the intention of opening the touch hole of a pistol. (Presumably the thorn was not suitable) He had remained in the house for two of three minutes and she was able to take particular stock of him, one of her little girls had opened the door to him and she was also able to recognise the prisoner as that man. Mrs Delves next saw him some time later in the care of the constable. John Collins of Stourbridge, knew Mr Robins, and had seen him on Friday 18th December at Stourbridge Market, and some time after 4o’clock he saw Mr Robins leaving Stourbridge to go home.
He thought no more than 30 people would use the road to Dunsley during the course of the day. Other witnesses on the road that evening testified to having seen a man, whom, they later identified as Howe. Thomas Bate a farmer, was preceding home on horseback as it grew dusk, saw the man who, he said seemed to “look at him with evil desire” and he was apprehensive of being attacked.
At about 10 minutes to four Benjamin Carter was going from Stourbridge to Gig Mill with a load of straw. The road he said, leads up towards Mrs Hills Park (this is what we know as High Park?) He saw a man seeming to charge a gun, though he saw no gun, and then the man went towards Mrs Delves house. Elizabeth Carter mother of Benjamin Carter and a neighbour of Mrs Delves, saw a man similar to the prisoner standing of the road to Hill Park. She heard the clock at Stourbridge strike Four. Edwards Cox a farmer of Dunsley, left Stourbridge Market at about 5pm, and was returning home when, at the top of Fir Tree Hill, he saw a man in a dark coat, resembling the accused, coming up the top hill at a great pace, who passed on towards Stourbridge within ten minutes of arriving home Cox heart that Mr Robins had been shot. It was suggested that the murderer mistook Mr Robins for a Mr George Burgess of Checkhill a local Farmer, who was known to have visited the Bank that day and to have taken our his half years rent, which was to be paid the next week to his Landlord, Mr Foley of Prestwood. Several witnesses told of having been in Howe’s company in the various Stourbridge Inns that evening, and of his sharing in their conversations concerning the robbery and wounding.
He was wearing a long dark great coat and a fawn skin waistcoat with a dark binding. Very damming evidence was provided by two fellow prisoners in the County Gaol/ One of them, who was seeing a visitor, Howe declined a letter to be given to a woman in a spotted shawl who was waiting at the prison lodge and who said that she was Mrs Howe (it may be interesting to note that, reporting on the trial, the Staffordshire advertiser stated that the prisoner had two wives, on in London, and one at Ombersley Worcestershire.
If this is so which of these ladies received the letter we cannot tell. The letter had since been destroyed, but, as the women could not read, its contents had to be known to several other persons, who, in turn, had read the letter to her. As a result of the contents of that letter, two persons were despatched to Stourbridge, where, they, met William Robins, son of Joseph Robin’s attorney, of Stourbridge and nephew of the murdered man.
At Dunsley in a Hay Stack not far from the house they found a glove containing three bullets, and in the same stack, a pistol which corresponded exactly with the pistol found in the prisoners box, one of the bullets fitted the bullet mould in the box, though the other two did not. Another fellow prisoner, announced that Howe told him where a watch was to be found, namely at the pawnbrokers establishment of Edward Power in Warwick. The officers had followed up this information, the watch was retrieved, and, was identified as that of Mr Robins, the murdered man.
The pawnbroker swore on oath that the prisoner had passed the watch to him in return for £2. William Gammon, a watchmaker in the Bull Ring Birmingham, stated that he had repaired the watch and returned it to Mr Robins in November. Jeremiah Robins, brother of the deceased identified the watch as that, which he had given to his brother some years before, As to the boxes, William Ogden, of Worcester, a carrier’s book keeper said that on Sunday 27th December, the boxes were forwarded at the prisoner’s desire, to “John Wood” at the Castle and Falcon in Aldersgate, London. They appeared to be tool chests. After the judge, Mr Justice Bayley, had summed up, the jury conferred for about seven minutes, and brought in a verdict of guilty. In very solemn words, the judge then addressed the prisoner telling him that the jury had come to the conclusion that he had committed one of the greatest offences that can be committed by man, and had violated one of God’s first commandments “thou shalt do no murder”. He had sent out of this world one who had never done the accused any harm, and to whom he could owe no ill-will. He had killed a man without giving him an opportunity of making up his account with his maker,
The Judge went on “It only remains for me to pronounce the awful sentence of the law, which is that you be taken from hence to the place from which you came, and, on the 18th of this month, from thence to the place of execution, there, to be hanged by the neck until you be dead, and that, when dead, you body to be dissected and anatomised, and may Almighty God, whose mercy is infinite, induce you to employ from time in the way you ought to do, and may he have mercy on your soul”. The trial lasted from eight o’clock in the morning until 4.30 in the afternoon.
At the Stourbridge magistrates’ hearing on the previous 19th January, Howe stated that he was born in Essex but, refused to name the parish. He had given the details (but with no precise date) of considerable travelling during the crucial period, once in a chaise, though mostly on foot in the midlands, and in Oxford and London, where he sought work.
He implied that “on Christmas Day at Pershore, for which he had been paid 12/-, he had stayed at various public houses at Worcester, Kidderminster, Broadway, Evesham and elsewhere, though sometimes he “slept with his wife at home”. He had had many meals at public homes. On his journey to London, he rode about 10 miles in a wagon, and had walked the rest of the way. At the trial, however, he said nothing in his defence, nor, we are told, did he exhibit any signs of fear or during his trial. At the conclusion, he explained that his “heart was innocent”. Two days later, on 18th March at 11am, the unhappy man was conducted to the “new drop” as it was known in front of the County Goal. The platform was entirely new, with a new construction of a trap door drop, the first of its thing.
The Staffordshire Advertiser of 20th March tells us that Howe “trod with a firm and heavy step, and, persevered his fortitude unshaken till the last. He approached the front of the platform, and addressed the spectators for three of four minutes, turning himself about that he might be heard on every side. He exhorted the spectators to take warning by his untimely end, acknowledged that he had committed many thefts, but, steadily denied that he was the murderer of Mr Wigan near Bridgnorth, of which crime also he had been suspected. He freely confessed that he was the murderer of Mr Robins, he went to Stourbridge for the purpose of committing a robbery, supposing is probable that he might obtain a considerable booty, it being the day of the old market, he did not know Mr Robins, and any other person who met him at the time would have shared the same fate.. He deplored the “badness of his heart” which, most devoutly for the forgiveness of the Almighty, and in treated the prayers of the surrounding multitude. He then submitted to his fate, with firmness and composure.
He was 32 years of age, thus, the Staffordshire Advertiser recounts the end of the life of William Howe. A.J. Standley, in “ The history of Stafford Goal”, writes “Originally the trial Judge in passing sentence, had ordered that Wood’s (Howe’s) magistrate had applied immediately for the body. R.D.P)” possibly because of the outrage felt towards the condemned man, and his body after execution at the prison, was hung in chains on Dunsley Heath near to the spot where the murder had taken place, a permissible alternative to dissection under the prevailing law. Inevitable, the body, thus suspended, excited some considerable interest, and crowds of people from a wide area (one figure has it that there were 40,000 on the fist Sunday) were reported to have visited the part of the heath where the body could be viewed.
Not wishing to overlook the opportunity of spreading the Gospel, a minister is believed to have been of the Methodist persuasion, was said to have attended on three consecutive Sundays, and to have preached an appropriate sermon to the crowds who had gathered. The expenses due to John Harris for his part in hanging the body in chains amounts to £7.19s.9d” says A.J.Stanley. “Dunsley Heath” is difficult to place precisely. Presumably, is the former area of Dunsley Common indicated in 1780. However, that enclosure around the area has no map. Probably, the common was in the area of Gibbet Wood to the north of the old Kinver-Dunsley-Stourbridge Road, now known as Gibbett Lane, between that road and the Stewpony including the present undulating field alongside the A449.
The T-shaped structure on which the bodies of executed criminals were exposed to public viewing was known as a “gibbet” Howe’s body had been brought in a cart from Stafford to the place of the murder by a John White of Holloway End. S Grazebrook states that his father (probably T.W. Grazebrook of Stourton Castle) present at the gibbeting, recounted that some man, who displayed more curiosity than the others, leaned over the cart in order to better view the body, at that moment the cart gave a sudden lurch, and one of the legs of the corpse, rose up and struck him in the face, giving him a black eye. The body was bound round with hoop iron, and hung up on the gibbet by a hook iron over the head.
The whole gruesome event has given its name to Gibbet Wood. Legend has it that three stalwart youths visited the scene, and, stood at the foot of the gibbet. Having drunk too much ale, they began to verbally abuse the body. One cried out “Will Howe” how bist thee?” and the corpse replied “cold and Clammy” the youths reaction is not recorded. The body remained on the gibbet for twelve months, but, the gibbett itself stood for several years. Paul Henry Foley, of Prestwood, accounts a legend that the Stourbridge Surgeon Issac Downing, who, we have noted, treated Mr Robins, proceeded illegally to summon the body from the gibbet for eventual dissection. While he was in the process of doing so, he heard someone approach along the road, and, in alarm, he slipped down and lay flat on the ground. While he was there, the body fell on him, and he had to remain motionless with it lying over him until the travellers had passed. He later removed the body to his surgery and kept the skeleton, jointed with wire, hanging in his hall, and it was used to freighted visitors.
The Peterborough column in The Daily Telegraph of a few years ago in “London day by day” has a variation, and states that in the Mander and Michelsom Theatre, collection, is a painting by a Miss E M Bayliss, of a skull, which, according to a note on the back of the frame “was that of William Howe, who waylaid, robbed and murdered a farmer at Gibbett Wood near Stourbridge”. The newspaper paragraph goes on the say that “he was caught and his skull was used by Sarah Siddons” who, retired from the stage in 1812, the year before Howe’s skull could possibly have become available.
We are told that, Mrs Robins, the farmer’s widow, is said to have had the window of her bedroom, which overlooked Gibbett Wood, bricked up, so that she could not see the gibbett. The window was opened again later, and now provides a delightful view over the Hall’s rose garden and Dunsley Hall Farm fields. “Fir Tree Hill”, later became know as “Gibbet Lane” and the adjoining woodland as “Gibbett Wood”. In 1834 the Ordinance Survey Map designates that part of the land alongside the wood as “Little Dunsley Bank”. But what of the stile, with which, we began this grisly account? Foley tells us that eventually “the gibbet was removed by G Thompson, and then used at Prestwood by being made into uprights for stiles.
It so served to scare off ‘superstitious thieves’ who, previously had been in the habit of removing the wood stiles. “Today”, says Mrs Francis Campbell, a local historian, writing more than 40 years ago, “the fine slightly tumbledown file, used by farmers when tending their sheep was in good condition”. She goes on “the site of the gibbett was marked by a young oak, and a stout post, but a few years ago the fine oak tree was inadvertently sawn down”.
Well today the stile too has gone; so, too probably, has the stile that replaces it. But, Gibbet Wood still remains, and though it passes that old sandy road from Kinver to Stourbridge on which Benjamin Robins and William Howe found themselves on that winter late afternoon in the year 1812.
Kingswinford is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and St. Mary's is the oldest church in the area. It has stood here for 800 years as Kingswinford has grown from a hamlet of 100 people to a suburb of 25,000.
the oldest part of the present building is the tower and the nave with the nave dating from 1843, the windows also date from this time. the first church covered the same area as the present building and was made of stone, this building was demolished in Victorian times. The present building had for many years a spire but this was said to be unsafe in 1982 and was taken done after lack of funds to repair it.
The churchyard still bears the marks of Royalist soldiers on some of the older headstones when then stopped over night in the area with king charles the 2nd just before the battle of Worchester.It remained the church of the huge parish of Kingswinford until it was threatened by mining activities in 1831. It re-opened in 1846 to serve a much smaller parish."
In 1066 Duke William of Normandy from France invaded England and won the battle of hastings. many of his knights became lords and barons over parts of England as payment for their sevrvices in battle one such knight was Ansculf of Picquiny he built a wooden fort on top of a hill in an area later to become know as dudley.
The Barons of Dudley:
Their have been 31 barons of dudley who belong to five diffrent houses. most of who lived at the castle until their was a great fire and the barons moved to nearby Himley hall
The first house/family at the location were :
House of Ansculf
little is known about this house apart from its thought they came here in 1070.
The 2nd house where
The house of Paganell
They where at the site till 1194
The 3rd house where
The house of Somery
their where at the location from 1194-1322
This family included John de Somery who gave permission for st james priory to be built in ground near the castle.
The 4th house (and the biggest and most powerful family)
The house of Sutton
they where lords and ladies at the castle from 1322-1553 and then after the great fire the de Suttons moved to nearby Himley hall to live.
This house was also family to the most famous baron of dudley John Dudley (drawing at bottom of page) was the man who built the living area known as the Sharrington range that still stands today.
The last house to hold the title baron of Dudley where the
House of Ward & Lea
They never lived at dudley castle (they lived at Himeley hall) but gained the title in 1636 when lady Frances Ward who was the daughter of Edward Sutton the 3rd married into the ward house.
This family held the baronship until 1757 when Fernando Dudley Lea died and so the baronship ended.
Dudley castle at war
Dudley castle was involed in a lot of the uk's history with it been important during the English Civil war. The site was a Royalist garrison at this time and its known to have at least two seige attempts on it
Built in around 1145 over a 5000 year old pagan burial ground, The Ancient Ram Inn is the oldest building in Wotton-Under-Edge. No wonder this building is a National Treasure.
Life at the Ram started in the early 11th century but not much is known before 1145. From 1145 it was a Church House for an unknown period. The time between 1145 and 1350 is a little speculative but the known facts are; Predominantly a Church House, Housed Masons for constructing the near-by St. Mary's Church and possibly housed Slaves and/or children for the same purpose.
In 1350 The Ram (not know by that name yet) was bought by Maurice De Bathe. Tenants Peter Le Couk and his wife Margaret resided there for an unknown period. The property stayed in the name of Maurice De Bathe for 171 years. The Ram changed hands frequently from here right up to 1968 where the current owner John Humphries now resides along side many uninvited guests. Most of which are previous owners or visitors!
From 1350 to 1820 it was known mostly as "Tan House" or "The Tan House" but records show the name "The Old Sun" crop up a few times but details of when it may have been known as this so far remains unknown. From 1820 onwards the Ram was Brewery Property with various Brewers and Landlords.
The Inn was once a Church House and housed the now famous “Bishop” in the Bishops room – It is not clear if there are separate spirits of a Bishop, a Priest and a Monk or perhaps it’s the same spirit interpreted differently by people who encounter the said spirit. Ancient maps show original building could be 3 times as large as today’s building.
There is a tunnel from the Fireplace in the bar to St. Mary’s Church – age unknown, and another to Lacock Abbey. These tunnels may have been used later on be Highwaymen and other wrong doers.
The site is built on an ancient pagan burial ground dating back over 5000 years and is also built on a crossing of ley lines. Wottons last two Highwaymen frequented this premises and hid in the weaver’s attic.