During the September 2017 Birmingham Heritage Week event the Civil War Siege 1643, I had a chance to have a look around all the rooms at Aston Hall, while it was not too busy. Come with me as we look around these rooms dating back to the 17th century while we are in self isolation. Some interiors may date the 18th century. From Sir Thomas Holte to James Watt Jr.

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A look around Aston Hall during the Heritage Open Day in September 2017





During the September 2017 Birmingham Heritage Week event the Civil War Siege 1643, I had a chance to have a look around all the rooms at Aston Hall, while it was not too busy. Come with me as we look around these rooms dating back to the 17th century while we are in self isolation. Some interiors may date the 18th century. From Sir Thomas Holte to James Watt Jr.


My visit to Aston Hall was on the 16th September 2017.

For my previous Aston Hall or Aston Park posts check out my previous posts here:

Quick history recap: Aston Hall was built between 1618 and 1635 by John Thorpe for Sir Thomas Holte, who moved into the hall in 1631 (before it was complete). The house was damaged by Parliamentary troops during the Civil War in 1643 (it still has visible scars). The house was sold and leased to James Watt Jr. in 1817. It became a museum after 1858. The Birmingham Corporation bought the house in 1864. Now run by the Birmingham Museums Trust, who took over from Birmingham City Council in 2012.

Aston Hall The East Front painted in 1854 by John Joseph Hughes. Public Domain.

Isometric View of Aston Hall, painted in 1860 by Allen Edward Everitt. Public Domain.

Public Domain Dedication images above from the collection of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Which are free to download from this link.

View below of Aston Hall in September 2017 before the Civil War Siege 1643 event began.

Rear view of Aston Hall from the back in Aston Park. Pan sculpture in the middle.

Now for a tour around Aston Hall.

The Great Hall

Seen during the Civil War Siege re-enactment. The actor on the left was playing Sir Thomas Holte. The portrait of the real Sir Thomas Holte was on the wall in the middle.

The portrait of Sir Thomas Holte in the Great Hall.

Great Drawing Room

Bit like a lounge with chairs around a fireplace, and somewhere to have tea. Furnished in the 18th century style for James Watt Jr.

The Green Library

A desk in the middle of the room with old books all around. Probably where James Watt Jr sat to work in the 19th century.

Small Dining Room

Furnished in the 18th century style. Called the Dining Parlour in 1771, this room remained a family breakfast and dining room until 1848. The 18th century fireplace was installed in 1960.

Portrait of James Watt (1736 - 1819) in the Small Dining Room. He was the famous father of James Watt Jr. 

The Johnson Room

In the 1760s this was a dressing room also used by Sir Lister Holte as an estate office. In 1817 it was known as the Little Blue Room and in James Watt's time it was the Study or Yellow Library.

In 1882 it was lined with panelling taken from a house in Old Square which belonged to Dr Hector, a friend of Samuel Johnson, hence it's modern name. It now contains displays on the Hall's history as a public museum.

There was a stuffed tiger in this room.

The Great Parlour

When Aston Hall was built this was the family's principal living room. Around 1700 it was converted into a chapel. The room's Jacobean panelling survives and it is furnished with oak furniture from the same period.

The Orange Chamber

Bedroom on the first floor. More in the 17th century style up here. These rooms were in the West Range.

King Charles Room

Known as the Best Lodging Chamber in 1654, this was one of the rooms used by King Charles I when he spent the night of the 18th October 1642 at Aston, shortly before the Battle of Edgehill.

Featuring artefacts from the English Civil War period. Civil War armour and an open cabinet.

Great Dining Room

In this room King Charles I dined here in 1642, on his way to Kenilworth during the English Civil War. (you can see the table from both sides).

Withdrawing Room

A small room with a table and chairs, with an old tapestry to the back of the room.

Long Gallery

The most impressive room at Aston Hall! I was lucky enough to get the whole room to myself at one point. Amazing that this has survived the centuries.

The World Room

An exhibition gallery of small objects in this room. In the 1650s this room was the Chamber over the Scullery, the anteroom to Sir Thomas Holte's bedchamber. After 1700 it became Sir Lister Holte's library. Heneage Legge  (who came to live at Aston Hall in 1794) turned it into his new bedroom and inserted large sash windows. The room now contains displays which explore the global influences on fashionable living and the design and decoration of furniture and furnishings during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Passage Room

This is the corridor between the rooms on the first floor.

Dressing Room

This was originally part of Sir Thomas Holte's bedchamber, this room was formed in about 1700. It was transformed by Sir Lister Holte in the 1750s who installed the fine fireplace. By 1771 it had become the Dressing Room to the Best Chamber. After 1794 it became the Dressing Room to Heneage Legge's Blue Room next door. By 1819 it was known as the Chinese Room.

Best Bedchamber

This room is not mentioned in the 1654 inventories, but it may have been Lady Holte's chamber. Around 1700 it was panelled and extended to the north, creating a large recess for a bed. It replaced the Chamber over the Kitchen as the principal family bedroom and was occupied by Sir Lister Holte and later by his widow, Sarah Newton. It is now furnished with pieces that would have decorated the bedchamber of a wealthy Georgian lady such as Lady Holte.

Oak Staircase

Up to Dick's Garret or down to exit. You can head up to the attic where the servants lived.

Dick's Garret

Replica 17th century servant's bed. Up here was where the servant's of Aston Hall slept for the night. Probably as it was during the 18th century.

Servants Hall

Probably the kitchen where the servants prepared food for the Holte family. The following rooms are in the basement of Aston Hall.

The Pantry

This room was formed during the alterations to the kitchen around 1700. In 1771 it was the Butler's Room, where he kept the silver and his trays. After 1819 it was used by James Watt's footmen who cleaned the oil lamps here.

Kitchen

Servants seen preparing food in the kitchen during the Civil War Siege 1643 event (actors during the Birmingham Heritage Week re-enactment). It looks like there was breads and pastries on the tables. As well as butter and eggs. And a boars head!

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020