The location for many a West Midlands school trip, Aston Hall is a Grade I listed Jacobean house in Aston, two miles north of the city centre. Owned by the city council and managed by Birmingham Museums Trust, as you might expect from one of Birmingham’s biggest heritage attractions there’s plenty going on over at Aston Hall for Birmingham Heritage Week. You can visit the Victorian day on the 8th September, take a a Meet Sir Thomas Holte Tour on the 12th, A Women’s Work Tour on the 13th or A Servant’s Life Tour on the 14th, and attend events with Birmingham Civic Society on the 15th.
70 members of the IGers Birmingham community were able to gain special access ahead of the Hall’s usual opening times to see the magnificent building and meet some it’s resident characters. The resulting photos give a glimpse of what you can expect to see when you visit for yourself.
Designed by John Thorpe and built between 1618 and 1635. It is a leading example of the Jacobean prodigy house.
The house was owned by Sir Thomas Holte. From 1599 he served as High Sheriff of Warwickshire. He received a knighthood in 1603 from James I. In 1612 Sir Thomas was able to buy the title of baronet (James I sold these new titles in order to raise money to quell trouble in Ireland). Sir Thomas now outranked all the local families and felt a grander home should be built to reflect both his wealth and status. The result of this desire was Aston Hall which he started building in 1618 and moved into in 1631. The house remained in the Holte family until 1817 when it was sold and leased by James Watt Jr., son of industrial pioneer James Watt.
During the English Civil War in 1643 the house was severely damaged after an attack by Parliamentary troops sent from Coventry and local militia from Birmingham. Some of the damage is still evident. There is a hole in the staircase where a cannonball went through a window and an open door, and into the banister.
The Holte End stand of Aston Villa stadium Villa Park, which sits on land originally part of the Aston Hall gardens, is named after Thomas Holte.
In 1864 the house was bought by Birmingham Corporation, becoming the first historic country house to pass into municipal ownership, and is still owned by Birmingham City Council and managed by the Birmingham Museums Trust who kindly facilitated our visit.
See the rest of the images here.