Aston Hall - Birmingham Museum

Aston Hall - Birmingham Museum

Industrial Gallery

Industrial Gallery


The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a number of venues under it's auspices. In 1829, the Birmingham Society of Artists created a private exhibition building in New Street, Birmingham while the historical precedent for public education around that time produced the Factory Act 1833, the first instance of Government funding for education. The Museums Act 1845 "[empowered] boroughs with a population of 10,000 or more to raise a 1/2d for the establishment of museums." In 1864, the first public exhibition room, was opened when the Society and other donors presented 64 pictures as well as the Sultanganj Buddha to Birmingham Council and these were housed in the Free Library building but, due to lack of space, the pictures had to move to Aston Hall.


Aston Hall


Aston Hall is a Jacobean house in Aston, Birmingham. Designed by John Thorpe, construction commenced in April 1618 by Sir Thomas Holte, who finally moved into the hall in 1631. It was completed in April 1635. The house was severely damaged after an attack by Parliamentary troops in 1643; some of the damage is still evident. There is a hole in the staircase where a cannonball went through a window, an open door and into the banister. The house was built for Sir Thomas Holte and remained in the family until 1817 when it was sold and leased by James Watt Jr., son of industrial pioneer James Watt. The house was then purchased in 1858 by a private company (the Aston Hall and Park Company Ltd) for use as a public park and museum. After financial difficulties it was then bought by the Birmingham Corporation in 1864 becoming the first historic country house to pass into municipal ownership.


It was also visited by Washington Irving, who wrote about it as Bracebridge Hall, taking the name from Abraham Bracebridge, husband of the last member of the Holte family to live there. Irving's The Sketch Book stories depicted harmonious warm-hearted English Christmas festivities he experienced while staying in Aston Hall, that had largely been abandoned. An Aston Hall Christmas Eve custom the owners afforded the servants of the house appeared in The Gentleman's Magazine in 1795, which wrote, "the servants have full liberty to drink, dance, sing, and go to bed when they please. The ground floor of Aston Hall, the grounds and the Stables Range are fully accessible to visitors with mobility difficulties. A virtual tour allows those visitors who are unable to climb the stairs to view the upstairs rooms of the Hall. Guide and Assistance dogs are very welcome within the Hall and grounds. Spaces are reserved for Blue Badge holders within the car park. There are accessible toilets within the stables range and the ground floor of the Hall. Baby changing facilities can also be found in these areas.


Birmingham Museum


The collection of antiquities includes coins from ancient times through to the Middle Ages, artefacts from Ancient India and Central Asia, Ancient Cyprus and Ancient Egypt. There is material from Classical Greece, the Roman Empire and Latin America. There is also mediaeval material, much of which is now on display in The Birmingham History Galleries, a permanent exhibition on the third floor of the museum. In November 2014 a dedicated gallery was opened to display the Staffordshire Hoard. Discovered in the nearby village of Hammerwich in 2009 it is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. In respect of local and industrial history, the tower of the Birmingham HP Sauce factory was a famous landmark alongside the Aston Expressway which was demolished in the summer of 2007.[25] The giant logo from the top of the tower is now in the collection of the Museum.


The Museum and Art Gallery is fully accessible for visitors with mobility difficulties. Lift Entrance to the Museum is through the Gas Hall Entrance on Edmund Street. Guide and Assistance dogs are very welcome within the Museum and Art Gallery. Drinking bowls are available free of charge from the Edwardian Tearoom. Birmingham City Council offers dedicated fee parking spaces to blue badge holders on Margaret Street. There are accessible toilets on all levels of the Museum and Gallery. They can be found in the following places: Gas Hall, Waterhall, Round room and near the start of the Birmingham History Galleries. There are seating areas in all gallery spaces, on each floor of the museum.


Location : Aston Hall, Trinity Road, Aston, Birmingham B6 6JD

Location : Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH

Transport Aston Hall: Aston (National Rail) 10 minutes. Bus Routes : 7, 63, 65 and Circular bus 11A/11C stop close by.

Transport Birmingham Museum: Snow Hill (National Rail) 8 minutes. Bus Routes : 9, 10, 27, 23, 23A, 24, 29, 29A, 82, 83, 87, 89, 120, 127 and 128 stop close by.

Opening Times Aston Hall: Tuesday to Sunday + Bank Holidays 11:00 to 16:00.

Opening Times Birmingham Museum: Daily 10:00 to 17:00; Saturdays opens at 10:30.

Tickets Aston Hall: Adults £8.00; Concessions £6.00;  Children (3 - 15) £3.00

Tickets Birmingham Museum: Free

Tel. Aston Hall: 0121 348 8263

Tel. Birmingham Museum: 0121 348 8032

Blakesley Hall - Birmingham Museum

Blakesley Hall

Museum of the Jewellery Quarter

Museum of the Jewellery Quarter



Blakesley Hall


Blakesley Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Birmingham and is a typical example of Tudor architecture with the use of darkened timber and wattle-and-daub infill, with an external lime render which is painted white. The extensive use of close studding and herringbone patterns on all sides of the house make this a home that was designed to show the wealth and status of the owner. The house is also jettied on all sides. At the rear of the hall, built on the back of the chimney, is a brick kitchen block dating from circa 1650. The hall is a timber-framed farmhouse built in 1590 (when Yardley was in Worcestershire) by Richard Smalbroke, a man of local importance to Yardley. His family farmed at the hall and had other buildings in the surrounding area which were lost over time. After 1685, the building passed into the hands of the Greswolde family and for the next 200 years became a tenant farm.


In 1899, the hall was acquired by Henry Donne who renovated the dilapidated house before selling it to the Merry family, a local paint and varnish manufacturer, who were the last family to occupy the hall.The hall became a museum in 1935 after centuries of use as a private home and its parlour was renovated. Its purpose was to display the history of the local medieval manors which comprise Birmingham. Blakesley Hall has no lift access to the first floor. Folders containing images and information about the upstairs rooms are available throughout the ground floor. All other areas of Blakesley Hall are accessible including the visitors centre, cafe, shop and gardens. Guide and Assistance dogs are very welcome within the Hall and grounds. There are accessible toilets within the visitor centre where baby changing facilities can also be found.

Many of the original architectural features of the hall remain such as the herringbone floor. Among the artefacts discovered at the hall are candlesticks and pewter goblets. In the Bedchamber, paintings on the wall from 1590 were discovered after being hidden for centuries, their rediscovery partly in thanks of the bomb damage that loosened a significant amount of plaster in the hall. When renovations took place postwar, inspection of the bedchamber revealed fragments of leather and painted plaster. When the chamber was cleaned up, the walls and timbers were shown to be decorated in a Moorish design. A mock up of how the 'painted chamber' would have looked can be seen in the back bedroom at Blakesley hall. The Gilbertstone, moved in local folklore by the Giant named Gilbert (which gave its name to the area of Gilbertstone on the border of Yardley and South Yardley), is displayed in the grounds of the museum.


Museum of the Jewellery Quarter


In 2008, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter was named as the third best free tourist attraction in Europe by TripAdvisor, behind the Pantheon in Rome and the National Gallery in London. For over 80 years the family-run firm of Smith and Pepper produced gold jewellery from the factory that is now the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, with very few changes in working practices, equipment or the appearance of the workshop. When the elderly owners retired in 1981, they simply locked the door. Everything was left as it was: tools on benches, overalls hanging on coat hooks, even cups of tea and jars of jam and Marmite.


It preserves this 'time capsule' of a jewellery workshop and also tells the 200-year story of the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, the centre of the British jewellery industry, and its traditional craft skills. Collections of jewellery exhibited there include coffin fittings. The museum is the starting point of the self-guided walking tour of the Jewellery Quarter. Wheelchair users can access the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter by using the Branston Street entrance. Inside the museum, a lift makes all areas accessible for wheelchair users. Owing to space limitations in the factory area only one wheelchair can be accommodated at a time. Guide and Assistance dogs are very welcome within the Museum. There are accessible toilets within the museum and baby changing facilities can also be found in these areas. There are a large number of objects for the visually impaired to touch.


Location : Blakesley Hall, Blakesley Road, Yardley, Birmingham B25 8RN

Location : Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, 75-80 Vyse Street, Hockley, Birmingham B18 6HA

Transport Blakesley Hall: Stechford (National Rail) 20 minutes or 97 from New Street. Bus Routes : 97 and Circular bus 11A/11C stop near by.

Transport Jewellery Quarter: Jewellery Quarter (National Rail, Metro) 5 minutes. Bus Routes : 101, 16, 74, 75 and Circular bus 8A/8C stop close by.

Opening Times Blakesley Hall: Tuesday to Sunday + Bank Holidays 11:00 to 16:00.

Opening Times Museum of the Jewellery Quarter: Tuesday to Saturday + Bank Holidays 10:30 to 17:00.

Tickets Blakesley Hall: Adults £7.00; Concessions £5.00;  Children (3 - 15) £3.00

Tickets Museum of the Jewellery Quarter: Adults £7.00; Concessions £5.00;  Children (3 - 15) £3.00

Tel: 0121 348 8263

Sarehole Mill

Sarehole Mill

Soho House

Soho House



Sarehole Mill


Sarehole Mill is a listed water mill (in an area once called Sarehole) on the River Cole in Hall Green, Birmingham. Built in 1542 on the site of a previous pool, it was once known as Bedell's or Biddle's Mill after the name of an early owner. In 1727 it was described as High Wheel Mill. As early as 1755, the mill was leased by Matthew Boulton, one of the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution and leading figure of the Lunar Society, for scientific experimentation. It is believed he converted the machinery for use in metal working. As well as milling grain it has been used for grinding bones for fertiliser, metal rolling (Matthew Boulton) and wire drawing. The current building dates from 1771 and was in use until 1919. Thereafter it fell into a state of disrepair and dereliction. A local community campaign to save the mill was launched when demolition was mooted, and was finally successful with the mill being restored in 1969.


In 1852 the water wheels at Sarehole Mill were supplemented by a single cylinder steam engine. Although water would have been the primary energy source powering the mill, the addition of a steam engine would have ensured uninterrupted operation of the mill. Unfortunately the original steam engine was at some point removed, the current engine is of similar size and capacity, being a single cylinder table engine of 16 hp (12 kW), albeit currently in a non-functioning state and of unknown manufacturer. The current engine was installed as part of the restoration of the mill in 1975. It was formerly used by a sweet manufacturer, Smith Kendon Ltd, at their factories in England and Messina, Italy, up until 1948.


J. R. R. Tolkien lived within 300 yards of the mill at around the turn of century, between the ages of four and eight, and would have seen it from his house. The locale at that time was rural Worcestershire farmland and countryside. He has also said that he used the mill as a location in The Lord of the Rings, for the Mill at Hobbiton. In an interview with Guardian journalist, John Ezard in 1966, before the mill's restoration, Tolkien said "It was a kind of lost paradise... There was an old mill that really did grind corn with two millers, a great big pond with swans on it, a sandpit, a wonderful dell with flowers, a few old-fashioned village houses and, further away, a stream with another mill. I always knew it would go – and it did." The grounds nearby host the annual Tolkien Weekend event that celebrates the life and works of Tolkien. The mill is part of the Shire Country Park. The ground floor of the Mill where the waterwheel gears and flour bins are located, the miller's house, the granary and the bakehouse are fully accessible to visitors with mobility difficulties. Guide and Assistance dogs are very welcome within the Mill and grounds. There are accessible toilets off the stable block where baby changing facilities can also be found.


Soho House


Soho House is an 18th-century house in Handsworth, Birmingham. It was the home of entrepreneur Matthew Boulton from 1766 until his death in 1809, and a regular meeting-place of the Lunar Society of Birmingham. Matthew Boulton, one of the 18th century's greatest entrepreneurs, acquired the lease of the five-year-old Soho Mill in 1761 and developed it into Soho Manufactory. He expanded the cottage next to it into Soho House, changing it several times. It is faced with sheets of painted slate to give the appearance of large stone blocks. Boulton moved into Soho House when the Manufactory was completed. The Soho Manufactory was demolished in 1863. In 1766 Boulton became one of the founders of the Lunar Society. In 1789, Boulton commissioned Samuel Wyatt to extend the buildings and fully revamp it and the gardens. Work on extending the building was completed in 1796 following the submission of designs by James Wyatt, Samuel's brother, for the additions of a main entrance front. Wyatt was also responsible for the large dining room, the regular venue for meetings of the Lunar Society.


After Boulton's death, the house passed to his son Matthew Robinson Boulton and later his grandson, Matthew Piers Watt Boulton, who eventually sold it in 1850. It then had a number of owners, and was at one time used as a residential hostel for police officers, before becoming a museum. Soho House has been restored, retaining its 18th-century Birmingham appearance, with "fine collections of ormolu, silver, furniture and paintings". Of particular note are the displays of silver and ormolu which were made in the manufactory, and the ormolu Sidereal clock made by Boulton and Fothergill, in 1771-72. The gardens, once over 100 acres in size but now less than half an acre, contains a walk with sphinxes, dated to around 1795. Part of the garden has been recreated using Boulton’s original planting notes. Guide and Assistance dogs are very welcome within the Hall and grounds. Soho House can be accessed via a ramp. Once inside the house, a lift connects all the floors. The visitor centre, shop and gardens are also accessible for wheelchair users and the house has its own car park. There are accessible toilets within the visitor centre where baby changing facilities can also be found.


Location : Sarehole Mill, Cole Bank Road, Hall Green, B13 0BD

Location : Soho House, Soho Avenue, Handsworth, Birmingham B18 5LB

Transport Sarehole Mill: Hall Green (National Rail) 10 minutes. Bus Routes : 5 and Circular bus 11A/11C stop near by.

Transport Soho House: Benson Road (Metro) 10 minutes. Bus Routes : 74 and 75 stop near by.

Opening Times Sarehole Mill: Wednesday to Sunday + Bank Holidays 12:00 to 16:00. Open Tuesdays through School Holidays.

Opening Times Soho House: Wednesday to Sunday + Bank Holidays 11:00 to 15:00. Open Tuesdays through School Holidays.

Tickets Sarehole Mill: Adults £6.00; Concessions £4.00;  Children (3 - 15) £3.00

Tickets Soho House: Adults £7.00; Concessions £5.00;  Children (3 - 15) £3.00

Tel: 0121 348 8263