There is a model in the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, showing what Birmingham might have looked like in the year 1300. The Lord of the Manor was William de Birmingham. Did you know why Moat Lane is called Moat Lane? There used to be a moat in what is now the Bull Ring area and the de Birmingham family lived in a manor house there.

Related View community

Birmingham from the Domesday Book in 1086 to 1300 when William de Birmingham was Lord of the Manor





There is a model in the Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, showing what Birmingham might have looked like in the year 1300. The Lord of the Manor was William de Birmingham. Did you know why Moat Lane is called Moat Lane? There used to be a moat in what is now the Bull Ring area and the de Birmingham family lived in a manor house there.


Birmingham has a history going back centuries, way before we gained City Status in 1889. And way before the Chamberlain's of the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries and way before Boulton and Watt in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. The Roman's had a fort in Birmingham close to the site of what is now the University of Birmingham around 48 AD.

 

The following photos below were originally taken at The Birmingham History Galleries at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in November 2012. These were in the section called Origins up to 1700.

This panel is about Medieval Birmingham. It mentions that in 1086 Birmingham was valued at just £1. It was recorded in the 'Domesday Book' by the Normans (20 years after the Norman Conquest of England). 200 years later Birmingham was one of the wealthiest trading centres in Warwickshire.

This panel about Birmingham before Birmingham. The town came into existence in the 1160s. People have lived in the area for hundreds of thousands of years. Many of Birmingham's place names are of Anglo Saxon origin. Archaeology at the Bullring from 1997 to 2001 didn't find any finds before the 12th century (or evidence of a major settlement before then).

When Birmingham got a charter to hold a market, this was in 1166 by the Lord of the Manor Peter de Bermingham. That's when Birmingham began to develop. Around the area that is today's Bullring. This is what Peter de Birmingham could have looked like.

It was the year 1166 when Peter de Birmingham as the Lord of the Manor bought a market charter from the king, Henry II, which entitled him to hold a weekly market. He made profits from the rent paid by the craftspeople who settled here and the traders who came to sell their goods.

This large model was near the entrance of the gallery and was what Birmingham could have looked like in the year 1300 when William de Birmingham was the Lord of the Manor.

At this end of the model, it shows the moat where the Lord of the Manor's house would be.

A close up look at the moat. The de Birmingham family might have decended from Norman ancestors, other sources suggest they decend from an Anglo-Saxon family. The market would have been held within the land of the moated manor house, or just outside it. Today the site of the moat is where Moat Lane Car Park is (it has been renamed to Markets Car Park) and the former site of the Birmingham Wholesale Market (demolished for the proposed Smithfield development). The moat was filled in during the 19th century. Maps from the 19th century show the moat was still there in 1816, but gone by the 1830's as by then the Smithfield Market was on the land.

Settlements to the north of the moat. There was a church in the middle. That was St Martin's Church.

This direction towards St Martin's Church and Market Place with the Manor House and Moat at the far end. Today this would be the location of the modern Bullring (built 2003). East Mall would be to the left (Selfridges) and the West Mall would be to the right (towards Debenhams). Spiceal Street would wind around up past St Martin's Church then up St Martin's Walk. The market place has changed a lot in 850 plus years.

This map in the exhibition might make things a bit clearer. To the south was the Manor House and Moat. Above that was the Market Place. A Watermill was near the moat. And most of the countryside was Deer Park. By the year 1300 around 1,500 people were living in Birmingham. New Street, Park Street and Edgbaston Street all existed by the year 1300.

This is William de Birmingham. He's the Lord of the Manor and everyone who lives in Birmingham pays him rent. He reduced the size of his deer park so that people can build houses on his land and he increased the rental income.

Another map of Birmingham in 1300. The centre of Birmingham is marked by the yellow rectangle including the Church (St Martin's), the Market and the Manor House. The Deer Park is on two sides of the town. To the north west was the Priory Hospital. New Street goes to the west. To the south west was the Parsonage. The River Rea flows from the north east to the south (passing the areas later known as Deritend and Digbeth but not marked on this map).

There is a series of four history panels located around the Bullring. I got photos of them back in 2009 and 2010. They mention that archaeological digs were carried out as part of the Bullring redevelopment. The digs uncovered evidence of Birmingham's medieval origins about 2 metres below the present ground level and it is known that by the 1300s Birmingham was a thriving medieval market and industrial town.

1. High Street.

This was located outside of the Pavilions. Seen in October 2010.

It says Birmingham by the year 1300 had a population of 1,500. It had houses, markets and industry and was thriving. The Priory or Hospital of St Thomas was located at the northern end of Dale End between Bull Street and Old Square (where the name The Priory Queensway comes from).

2 Edgbaston Street

Located on the walk towards Debenhams. Seen in May 2009.

Edgbaston Street was one of the oldest streets in Birmingham. In medieval times it linked the moated manor house with Parsonage Moat and carried traffic to and from the busy Bull Ring Market. An archaeological dig on Edgbaston Street (below the Indoor Market building) showed that a 13th century tannery was tucked in at the rear of the houses fronting the main street. Was one of the earliest tanneries now known to have existed in the Bull Ring and Deritend.

3 St Martin's Square

This was on the wall below Selfridges, but was moved in 2011 when the Spiceal Street development was built (Hand Made Burger Co was at this site until 2020). Seen in August 2009.

St Martin's, the parish church in Birmingham was built in the 12th century. The dig done in advance of the landscaping around the church as part of the Bullring development. Most of the burials found remains dating to the late 18th and throughout the 19th century. No remains from Medieval times were outside.

4 Park Street

This was on Park Street near Birmingham Moor Street Station. Seen in August 2009.

This area was the Lord of the Manor's deer park. Archaeological digs at Moor Street and Park Street (below what is now Moor Street Car Park) discovered a large ditch that was the boundary between the town and deer park in the 12th century. By the 13th century, the park's use for hunting gave way to the demands for the land close to the Bull Ring. As a result of the success of the markets, the Lord of the Manor abandoned the deer park. The ditch was infilled and Moor Street and Park Street were created to provide additional building land. 13th century pottery was made here, including metal-working, horn-working, born-working and textile production.

No wonder they called Birmingham The Workshop of the World. And this was as early as the 13th century!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at over 1,120 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020