Did you know that Weoley Castle was once a fortified manor house for the Lords of the Manor of Dudley? Dating to 1264, it was built for Roger de Somery. There is evidence of the site dating back to Norman times and being surrounded by a moat. Now owned by Birmingham City Council and run by the Birmingham Museums Trust. I saw it in December 2015 from outside of the gate / fence.

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The remains of a fortified manor house at Weoley Castle





Did you know that Weoley Castle was once a fortified manor house for the Lords of the Manor of Dudley? Dating to 1264, it was built for Roger de Somery. There is evidence of the site dating back to Norman times and being surrounded by a moat. Now owned by Birmingham City Council and run by the Birmingham Museums Trust. I saw it in December 2015 from outside of the gate / fence.


Weoley Castle

I went to check out Weoley Castle during December 2015. At the time the site was closed, so was only able to get my photos through the green gate and fence. It is located off Alwold Road in Weoley Castle (the suburb that was named after the castle / manor house).

Now run by Birmingham Museums Trust and owned by the Birmingham City Council. The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade II listed building. There is more details on the offical Birmingham Museums website About Weoley Castle. The ruins are well over 750 years old. The fortified manor house was built for the Lords of Dudley. The castle used to be surrounded by a large deer park which stretched for 1000 acres.

The castle had arrow slits, a moat, a curtain wall, towers and battlements. But all of that is gone now, apart from the stone remains visible above ground.

In 1264, Roger de Somery was licenced to crenellate his manor house. Fragments of a 13th century wooden buildings have been found here. There was also a detailed survey of the site in 1422. Most of the ruins we see today dates to the 1270s. The King at the time (Henry III) gave the Lords of Dudley permission to fortify his castle in stone.

Although described as a castle, it was just a fortified manor house, surrounded by a large moat. Moated sites were common across Birmingham, but none remain today.

 

On this sign below is drawing of what Weoley Castle could have looked like in it's heyday. The Bourn Brook flows under the castle site, it used to feed the water into the moat. It's now in a culvert. There had been a farmhouse on this site for many centuries, but was described by the 17th century as a ruined castle. The Birmingham Corporation bought the estate in 1930.

The nearby road Alwold Road was named after a Saxon chieftain in the local area. After the Norman Conquest the land was given to William Fitz Ansulf who became the Lord of Dudley and lived at Dudley Castle. What you see today was built for Roger de Somery, who was the Lord of Dudley at the end of the 1200s. By 1485 the castle was owned by William Berkeley, who lost the castle when he fought for Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The Dudleys sold the land in 1531 to Richard Jervoise a wealthy cloth merchant. He didn't live here. A farmhouse was built nearby in the 18th century. It remained rural land until 1930 when Mr Ledsam the then owner of the land sold it to the Council. The archaeological digs took place here between the 1930s and 1950s.

It would have been nice to walk around the grounds, but when I went in December 2015 the gate was locked, so could only see it from the outside. I've yet to go here on an open day, but was probably best when it was closed to get it without any other people.

The ruins of the stonework to the left.

This was one of the oldest remaining buildings in Birmingham.

The moat would have gone all the way around the castle, where the lower grass levels are now.

There used to be an imposing gatehouse and a great hall, but you can't really see that now.

There would have also been private rooms for the lords and ladies of the manor, and there used to be a kitchen with a large fireplace for cooking. Bit hard to tell now where that was though.

It's remarkable that any of the stonework has survived. I suspect that it must have been destroyed by the mid 17th century (or in the 16th century?).

Probably buried for centuries until archaeologists dug up the remains. Then later the grass layers were changed to keep the stonework above ground.

More stonework details.

By this point I was running out of things to take, so was retaking the same stone wall again.

I also took a panoramic, of which a crop is seen below (was only grass to the right anyway).

More stonework details.

The ruins here reminds me a bit of the Priory Ruins in Dudley.

There also used to be a family chapel and stables on the site back in the 13th century onwards.

Also missing from Weoley Castle was a brewhouse that used to be somewhere on the site.

The ruins can be views from a Viewing Platform which is open every day. There is also tours of the site once a month from January to November each year (for a fee). Direct access to the ruins is on open days with a pre-booked guided tour. The viewing platform is free, but there is usually a charge for events.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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