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Classic Architecture
12 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A visit to Blakesley Hall in the summer of 2014

On the first Sunday of the month you can visit Blakesley Hall for free. At the time in 2014 entry was usually £4 each. This visit to Blakesley Hall was during early August 2014. The timber framed house is located in Yardley on Blakesley  Road and was originally a farmhouse. Built in 1590 for Richard Smalbroke, whose family later gave their name to Smallbrook Queensway.

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A visit to Blakesley Hall in the summer of 2014





On the first Sunday of the month you can visit Blakesley Hall for free. At the time in 2014 entry was usually £4 each. This visit to Blakesley Hall was during early August 2014. The timber framed house is located in Yardley on Blakesley  Road and was originally a farmhouse. Built in 1590 for Richard Smalbroke, whose family later gave their name to Smallbrook Queensway.


Blakesley Hall

Taking advantage of the first Sunday of the month for free, we went to Blakesley Hall on Sunday 3rd August 2014. Normally entry would be £4. I had a chance to look around the garden as well as explore the house and all the rooms. In this post we will look at the exterior and interior of the hall.

Now for some history. Blakesley Hall is located on Blakesley Road in Yardley, now in Birmingham. It is a Grade II* listed building. At the time when it was built in 1590, Yardley was in Worcestershire. Built for a local Yardley man called Richard Smalbroke, it was built as a farmhouse. In was passed to his descendants until it ended up in the Greswolde family from 1685. They used it as a tenant farm for the next 200 years. Henry Donne bought the hall in 1899 who restored the house before selling it to the Merry family, who was the last family to live in the hall. It became a museum from 1935 onwards. Bomb damage in WW2 in 1941 meant that the hall didn't reopen until 1957. After the 1970s and with research the hall was restored to an authentic appearance as it was in 1684.

The Birmingham Museums Trust took over the running of the hall from Birmingham City Council in 2012.

There was a nearby village (which is today called Old Yardley Village and has a park called Old Yardley Park). For more on Old Yardley Village I have a post here Old Yardley Village: a hidden gem not far from Blakesley Hall.

 

Watercolour painting below of Blakesley Hall c. 1840-60 by A.E. Everitt (from a private collection).

Black and white view below of Blakesley Hall in 1890, when a pond was created by clay extraction, which was in a field opposite the house.

Black and white photo below showing the Merry family in 1910, they were preparing for haymaking. Tom Merry is at the back.

The above photos were taken from the Blakesley Hall Guide Book published by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, 2003.

 

Before heading into Blakesley Hall I had a look all the way around the house from the gardens.

There was lavender growing on this side of the garden.

The right side of the house facing Blakesley Road. This was the entrance to the hall.

To the back of the house. The gardens were quite large and plenty to see in the summer.

The house has a few wings around the back. The kitchen dates to the mid 17th century. While there was an 18th century brick addition.

One more look around the back before heading inside.

The Hall

The table in the hall dates to around 1620. It was laid out like it could have been during the 1680s.

On this table in The Hall was some old newspapers, probably dating to the First World War, as one mentions British Soldier casualties in France. There was also an old inkwell and desk lamp and a framed black and white photo. Would have to assume of the Merry family who were living here during the 1914-18 War.

Spinning wheel in The Hall. Before mass production in factories, women would sew their own clothes at home for the family. This might be a modern one called an Ashford Spinning Wheel (made in New Zealand). Obviously a spinning wheel in the 17th Century would have been made in England!

The Great Parlour

This room was used for private dining, sitting and entertaining. There was a door from the garden so people could come and go without passing through the main Hall. Their is a set of replica panelled painted hangings on the wall. These depict the story of Joseph and his brothers in the Old Testament. Fireplace to the right of the table and chairs.

The Little Parlour

According to a 1684 inventory this room was a private family dining room. The most comfortable room in the house. Apparently their used to be a fireplace in here but where it is now is a mystery. Hangings were very fashionable in the 17th century, and their were reproductions in the room dyed in similar colours to what may have been used in the 17th century.

The Painted Chamber

One of the main bedrooms in the house. The tester bed dates to the 17th century. The bed curtains are replicas. Wall paintings in this room date from when the house was built and had been covered over, as at one point they were thought to be old fashioned. They were hidden until the 1950s when repairs to the house after WW2 took place.

The Servant's Chamber

Just a simple bed for the servant of the house in this room. While this room is displayed as the Servant's Chamber, the servant's would have actually slept in the attic on the second floor.

The servant had her own Spinning Wheel and bobbin in her room. Like the one on display here.

The Far-Bed Chamber

This room is furnished with replica items and reproduction wall hangings. The tester bed and other furniture in the room are accurate replicas of late 16th and 17th century pieces.

This chest has objects on top of it. They had something to do with the handmaiden cleaning the room.

Another view of the test bed in the Far Chamber. The door out to the first floor corridor.

One more view of the bed in the Far Chamber.

Heading down the stairs to the floor below.

Kitchen

This brick built kitchen was added to the back of the house in 1650. Before it was built, it is likely the Hall's original kitchen would have been in a separate building to reduce the risk of fire. The beams in the kitchen dates to 1350 suggesting that they may have been reused from the house that was previously on this site.

Typical objects in a late 17th century kitchen. Objects on the tables for preparing food. Also some early equipment for cleaning the floor, or washing the clothes.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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70 passion points
People & community
12 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Union Jack flags and bunting around suburban Shirley for VE Day 75

While the VE Day 75 Bank Holiday Weekend was never supposed to be like this (on lockdown during a pandemic), locals have still decorated the outside of their homes with Union Jack flags and bunting. Such as in Shirley, Solihull (just over the Metropolitan Borough border from Birmingham in Hall Green). Saw these on my Saturday afternoon daily walk in the warm weather on the 9th May 2020.

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Union Jack flags and bunting around suburban Shirley for VE Day 75





While the VE Day 75 Bank Holiday Weekend was never supposed to be like this (on lockdown during a pandemic), locals have still decorated the outside of their homes with Union Jack flags and bunting. Such as in Shirley, Solihull (just over the Metropolitan Borough border from Birmingham in Hall Green). Saw these on my Saturday afternoon daily walk in the warm weather on the 9th May 2020.


It has been 75 years since World War 2 ended in Europe. Victory in Europe Day was held on the 8th May 1945 (when Germany surrendered). While WW2 in the Far East didn't end until August 1945, when Japan surrendered (VJ Day). While the 75th anniversary commemorations are a bit more muted then they were supposed to be, households all over the country have decorated the front of their houses with Union Jack bunting and flags. Some may have even had tea on their front drives on the 8th May 2020. This daily walk the day later on the 9th May 2020.

 

For my Saturday afternoon daily walk, in the warm weather, walked down Solihull Lane from Robin Hood Island in Hall Green, Birmingham. Crossed the border into Solihull on Streetsbrook Road in Shirley, Solihull. Saw these Union Jack bunting and flags on the way.

We left Streetsbrook Road at Olton Road and walked towards the Stratford Road in Shirley. Then back towards the Robin Hood Island. Saw a Union Jack flag, and one house with Lest We Forget.

 

Earlier saw this Union Jack flag on Shirley Road in Hall Green.

At Robin Hood Island on Solihull Lane was this Union Jack flag and a hat outside of Keith Emery Butchers (while customers were socially distanced 2 Metres apart from each other).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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50 passion points
Classic Architecture
11 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A tour of Soho House in the summer of 2010

Did you know that before the Birmingham Museums Trust took over from Birmingham City Council, you had to sign a disclaimer when you wanted to take photos around Soho House? My only visit to Soho House was in July 2010. It was the home of Matthew Boulton from 1766 until his death in 1809, so went the year after his bicentenary of his death. The Lunar Society met here in the late 18th C.

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A tour of Soho House in the summer of 2010





Did you know that before the Birmingham Museums Trust took over from Birmingham City Council, you had to sign a disclaimer when you wanted to take photos around Soho House? My only visit to Soho House was in July 2010. It was the home of Matthew Boulton from 1766 until his death in 1809, so went the year after his bicentenary of his death. The Lunar Society met here in the late 18th C.


Soho House

The Birmingham Museums Trust took over from the running of the museum at Soho House which was previously run by Birmingham City Council until 2012. At the time of my visit, I had to sign a form to get permission to take photos inside of the house (which I've not had to do since at other venues). The visit was during July 2010.

Some history.

The house located in Handsworth, was built for Matthew Boulton one of the 18th century's major entrepeneurs. Who ran the Soho Manufactory (taking over Soho Mill in 1761). Originally a cottage was on this site which he had expanded, making several changes. Boulton moved in during 1766 and he became one of the founding members of the Lunar Society. He hired Samuel Wyatt in 1789 to landscape the garden and extend the buildings. In 1796 his brother James Wyatt, made additions to the main front. It is now a Grade II* listed building.

When Matthew Boulton died in 1809, the house passed to his son, Matthew Robinson Boulton and later grandson Matthew Piers Watt Boulton who later sold the property in 1850. Over the years the house had a variety of owners. At one point it was a residential hostel for police officers. Birmingham City Council acquired the house in 1990 and opened it as a museum in 1995. In 2012 the Birmingham Museums Trust took over from the Council for running Soho House.

A map of the Soho area which was taken from Matthew Boulton's Notebook no. 27 dating to 1793 to 1799.

This view of the Soho Manufactory was taken from J. Bissett's Magnificent Directory, dating to 1800.

Below is a watercolour of Soho House painted by Paul Braddon.

The above images were taken from a guide book called "Matthew Boulton Bicentenary Celebrations", published by Birmingham City Council in 2009 (when Matthew Boulton has been dead for 200 years).

 

Plan of Soho, this map from when Matthew Robinon Boulton owned the estate from 1809 (death of his father) until 1842 (his own death). Including the Soho Manufactory. Soho House is to the right. Below used to be Soho Pool.

The above Public Domain Dedication image taken from the Birmingham Museums Trust Digital Image Resource. Which are Public Domain images free to download.

 

You can find my full Flickr album on Soho House here: Soho House, Handsworth.

Arriving at Soho House for the July 2010 visit.

There is a blue plaque on the wall for Matthew Boulton from the Birmingham Civic Society, stating that he lived here from 1766 to 1809.

This photo came out a bit blurry, despite some attempts to edit it. Also the man that worked here for the Council came out and sat on the bench. I think I had to sign the form for him.

View from the back of the garden. These garden views were taken after the look around the house.

Same photo as above but a different crop. There is a tea room on the right.

Now for a look around the rooms inside of Soho House.

Breakfast Room

This room would probably have been used by the Boulton family as an informal sitting room as well as a breakfast room. The marble chimney-piece is one of a number that survive throughout the house and dates from the late 1790s.

Drawing Room

The Drawing Room was one of the principal rooms in the house and would generally have been used only for entertaining guests or on other special occasions. Matthew Boulton purchased the japanned chairs for this room in 1798 from the cabinet maker James Newton.

To the left there was a bust of Matthew Boulton.

And to the right was a bust of James Watt.

Dining Room

The Dining Room of Soho House has come to be known as the Lunar Room, named after the Lunar Society who often met here. This eminent group of scientists and manufacturers met at Boulton's home to dine together, and to exchange ideas, discuss their inventions or entertain each other with scientific experiments.

The mirror and fireplace in the Dining Room aka the Lunar Room.

Entrance Hall

This portrait of Matthew Boulton was in the entrance hall.

Matthew Boulton's Study

Matthew Boulton filled his home with scientific instruments, equipment and books. to the left of the fireplace is a diagonal barometer by John Whitehurst of Derby, c. 1775. Above the chimneypiece is a pastel drawing "The Face of the Moon" by John Russell, c. 1795.

Fossilry

This room contains Matthew Boulton's large collection of geological specimens. In 1782 he created a "fossilry at his Manufactory to house his collection, and by 1803 it has been moved to this room, so that he could keep and study his specimens in his house. The mahogany cabinet contains drawers for storing geological specimens and is one of a pair formerly owned by Matthew Boulton.

Housekeeper's Room

This room was the kitchen of the house where the housekeeper would cook for the Boulton family.

They would prepare food on this table.

They would also do other tasks such as cleaning the house and the chimney.

Wine Cellar

Under the house was the extensive cellars at Soho House. They were used for the storage of wine, beer, ale, oil lamps, and some foodstuffs. This area was the wine cellar and still has it's original slate shelving.

This is also near the area used for the Furnace & Heating System. This cardboard cut out of a man showing the kind of tasks that were done down here. I'm not sure if he was carrying a bag of coal or disposing of the household waste?

The stairs from the different levels of the house. We were heading back up into the house.

Ladies Room

At the time I wasn't able to make out what this room was called or used for. There was a chair for a lady to sit on, and a dress on display. The chair was called a Day Bed and was made in 1805, probably for Miss Boulton (Matthew's daughter).

Miss Boulton's Sitting Room

This room was used by Matthew Boulton's daughter, Anne as a small sitting room. Anne Boulton who was born in 1768, spent most of her life at Soho House. She never married, and only moved to a house of her own in 1818 after her brother's marriage, when Soho House became his family home.

A portrait of Ann Boulton in the Sitting Room.

Matthew Boulton's Bedroom

This room became Matthew Boulton's bedroom c 1803, before this it was his library. The house was remodelled in the late 18th century and the handsome marble chimneypiece was probably put in as part of this work. The mahogany bed dates from the 18th century.

There was a portrait of Matthew Boulton in his bedroom. By Carl Frederick von Breda. There is a similar one at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (or it is the same one in their collection).

Miss Boulton's Bedroom

This room is displayed as Miss Boulton's Bedroom, although c 1800 she probably had a bedroom across the passage. By the 1780s, fashionable homes had begun to have highly co-ordinated interiors. There is a mahogany side table and japanned chairs, all by James Newton.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at more than 1,130 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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80 passion points
Photography
11 May 2020 - Mac McCreery
Gallery

Modern Times

I hope that you are all okay.

I live in Digbeth and am thus lucky to be sat on top of the city.

My camera goes with me on my daily walks and I have just captured scenes as they present themselves.

These are just a handful.

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Modern Times





I hope that you are all okay.

I live in Digbeth and am thus lucky to be sat on top of the city.

My camera goes with me on my daily walks and I have just captured scenes as they present themselves.

These are just a handful.


 

 

 

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40 passion points
Modern Architecture
11 May 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

The Cube from 2011 to The Big Hoot 2015

A gallery of photos I've taken of The Cube from early 2011 until 2015 when The Big Hoot owl sculpture trail was on. Over the years I have taken many views of The Cube from the City Centre. Either from the canals or from the nearby streets. Many different views of it to see. The only time I got the lift all the way up to the top was in the summer of 2015 to see The Big Hoot owl up there

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The Cube from 2011 to The Big Hoot 2015





A gallery of photos I've taken of The Cube from early 2011 until 2015 when The Big Hoot owl sculpture trail was on. Over the years I have taken many views of The Cube from the City Centre. Either from the canals or from the nearby streets. Many different views of it to see. The only time I got the lift all the way up to the top was in the summer of 2015 to see The Big Hoot owl up there


I've taken many views of The Cube over the years. This is a gallery of photos I've taken between 2011 and 2015. Most of them taken in 2011 and 2012. By 2013 the Library of Birmingham had opened, so some new views. By 2015 I went into The Cube to see the pair of Big Hoot owls, which you will see further down this post.

2011

These views of The Cube were taken during January 2011.

View from Upper Gough Street, looking down Upper Marshall Street.

The view below was from Washington Street.

Better view from the end of Washington Street, close to Commercial Street.

Close up from Wasington Street before going onto Commercial Street.

The rear entrance on Commercial Street. Was a website at the time called The Cube is Coming. Promising Amazing Views.

Looking up from Commercial Street towards the Crown.

Commercial Street from ground level.

Slightly further back on Commercial Street with the building to the left.

The Cube dominating every other building on Commercial Street.

There is also a view from the Worcester & Birmingham Canal between Granville Street and the Salvage Turn Bridge. This would have been from the Granville Street Bridge towards The Mailbox.

2012

Now for some views taken during February 2012.

This view of The Cube was taken from Granville Street near Washington Wharf. There is an old building surviving amongst all the modern ones here.

Views of The Cube taken from the Worcester & Birmingham Canal between Bath Row and Granville Street, February 2012.

In front of The Cube on the canalside is The Maltings, also called Davenports House, they are student accommodation for University College Birmingham (UCB).

You can get onto the canal from the steps at Bath Row near Bishopsgate Street. If you want to, get off the canal at the steps at Granville Street.

In fact I did get off the canal at Granville Street. One last view of The Cube from down here.

2013

Views of The Cube taken in May 2013.

This view below from Brindleyplace, while I was on Oozells Street. Looking down Berkley Street.

Another view from Oozells Street looking down Berkley Street below. Concrete one one of the nightclubs on Broad Street. The Rocket Club.

Detailed zoom in from Berkley Street towards the criss crosses patterns. A bit like TETRIS (and this was before Holiday Inn Express was built on Holliday Street).

Corner of the Crown zoomed up from Berkley Street.

In July 2013 there was a Mini below The Cube from the canalside. Was something about My First Mini.

In August 2013 I saw this Diving Sculpture from Waterfront Walk near the canalside towpath of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal opposite The Cube.

The artist was Cathy Lewis and she was commissioned to make it in 2006 by Charles Church Developments to create a large sculpture for a public site beside the new Register Office at Holliday Wharf, Birmingham. At the time a narrowboat name Eloiuse was moored up on the canal.

Slightly further back view of Cathy Lewis's Diving Sculpture from Waterfront Walk.

In the middle of September 2013 on a photo walk around Highgate, I spotted this view of The Cube from Angelina Street.

In September 2013, the then new Library of Birmingham opened to the public for the first time, and while there got some views of The Cube from there. This view was from Level 2, at the time known as the Knowledge floor.

View of The Cube from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham which was on Level 3, known at the time as the Discovery floor.

Another view from the Discovery Terrace, with some of circular structure of the Library of Birmingham above.

In this December 2013 view below taken from Tyseley Station. The zoom on my then bridge camera probably went beyond into digital zoom which gets a bit pixelly. The area above the Tyseley DMU Depot. At the time I got a train from my local station, got off at Tyseley, then waited for another train on the line to Solihull.

2014

Not so many views taken of The Cube in 2014. In October 2014 I was looking for a blue plaque on Tindal Street in Balsall Heath when I spotted this view of The Cube. The Hyatt Hotel is just about visible from here to the right.

2015

From Centenary Square during January 2015. Winter Skate Birmingham (late Ice Skate Birmingham) was being dismantled after the end of the Christmas / Winter season. Saw this view of The Cube looking down Bridge Street. At the time the former Register Office (later House of Sport) had yet to be demolished for Arena Central. The Hyatt Hotel seen to the right. There was a JCB in Centenary Square,

The July 2015 visit to The Cube was to see the pair of Big Hoot owls that they had in the building.

A few floors down from the ground floor was Mr Architect by the artist Sam Pierpoint and the sponsor was The Cube. On this side the design had The Cube as the hair, Library of Birmingham as the wings, The Mailbox was on the legs and Selfridges as the feet.

The design had The Cube as the hair, Curzon Street Station at the back of the head, and the Library of Birmingham as the body and Selfridges as the feet.

This sign on the ground floor welcomed you to The Cube. Mr Architect was reachable via the lift or escalators to Level 5. For Owl-livia, you had to take the lift up to Level 25 to the Hotel Indigo Reception area.

After catching the lift up to Level 25 it was time to look at the next owl. Owl-livia was by the artist Charlie Langhorne and the sponsor was Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill Birmingham.

While at the top near Hotel Indigo and Marco Pierre White, I took an opportunity to get photos of the views from the top.

This view from the top of The Cube towards Jurys Inn and other buildings along Broad Street. It has changed a lot since then (I've not had a need to go back up to the top of The Cube since).

I may next cover The Cube from 2016 to 2020, but might be less photos.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Thanks for all the followers.

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