A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4, Hemlingford Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1947.
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Castle Bromwich, originally a hamlet of Aston, was formed into a separate civil parish in 1894. By the Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield Order, 1931, a portion of the parish was transferred to the City of Birmingham. The remainder contains 1,239 acres of land, and its population in 1931 was 678. Castle Bromwich Station of the London Midland and Scottish Railway, a short distance from the village but within the parish of Minworth, was opened on 10 Feb. 1901, and replaced an older structure of 1842. (fn. 1) Many houses of suburban character have been erected during the last few years, and others are in process of construction. A golf course, and the greater part of Bromford Bridge racecourse, are in the parish. Hodge Hill Common, now the property of Birmingham Corporation, is a small open space. A water-mill is mentioned in 1454, (fn. 2) 'several' in 1698, (fn. 3) and three, here and at Water Orton, in 1718; (fn. 4) in 1766 one was leased by Sir Henry Bridgeman to Zachariah Twamley, (fn. 5) but none now remains. Fisheries in the River Tame were a cause of Chancery Proceedings in 1698, (fn. 6) and still existed in 1810. (fn. 7)
The original Hall was erected presumably by Edward Devereux, who was Member of Parliament for Tamworth 1588–9, High Sheriff 1593–4, and was created baronet 1611: he died 1622. It was probably on the existing lines, but in the main only two stories high. In 1657 it passed to Sir John Bridgeman, second baronet, who added or remodelled the middle porch wing, perhaps raised part of the third story of the house, and altered some of the internal arrangements. His son Sir John, third baronet, added most of the third story in 1719 (date on the south front) and probably did some other alterations, such as the staircase inserted within the original courtyard. Later 18th-century additions are the wing with the tower adjoining the north-east angle, and the low corridors, &c., around three sides of the courtyard.
The plan is a square about a central courtyard with the main front to the south; this has east and west wings (the gabled roofs of which run right through to the north front) and a middle porch wing. The other three elevations are each in one plane and are practically symmetrical. The two lower stories on all faces are built of red brick with some diaper patterning in blue bricks, and with a moulded stone plinth and stringcourse at first-floor level. The gable-heads of the wings (third story) are of later brickwork, but they appear to be earlier than the third story of the main wall between them, which has rain-water heads dated 1719.
The middle porch wing is faced with white stonework; the square-headed entrance of rusticated ashlar is flanked by pairs of Corinthian shafts (the outer plain and the inner twisted) that carry an entablature and a curved broken pediment with a middle shield of the Bridgeman arms. The second story, also faced with rusticated masonry, has a tall narrow window of two lights with a transom, and on either side of it is a round-headed niche with figures of Peace and Plenty. The top has an entablature and a scrolled iron handrail. The main wall and wings have windows in red sandstone to both stories, all of four lights with moulded jambs and mullions and plain square heads and transoms. The gable-heads of the wings have similar three-light windows, moulded stone copings, and apex-pinnacles. The main wall between them has larger four-light windows with transoms; the middle feature, of the same width as the porch but not projecting, is of white stone with rusticated pilasters and a pediment in which is carved the Bridgeman crest. The story has a moulded cornice and a parapet of five bays, the middle solid, the others with open balusters, divided by pedestals carrying urns. The inner faces of the wings have chimney-stacks projected on corbelling at the first-floor level and having 18th-century panelled shafts. In the ground story under that of the east wing is a tiny stone 'eye-hole', thought to be from a hiding hole.
The west side has a range of six four-light windows to the two lower stories and a small modern middle doorway (to the main stair-hall). In the third story are four wide gabled dormers with three-light windows, all of later brickwork, especially the two southern of light red bricks. The north side has a gable at each end corresponding with the south wings. The ground floor has a middle modern doorway. The third story between the gables has three gabled dormers of later brickwork. The middle doorway in the east side is original, with a four-centred head and a head-light over it. The six windows, like the others, vary from two to four lights in each story, and the roof has three dormers. The north, east, and south sides of the inner courtyard have lean-to additions to the ground story, but in the main walls behind them are two or three old windows. The upper windows resemble those of the outer walls. On the east side are two gable-heads and on the west side two half-gables against 18th-century panelled chimney-shafts.
The inner entrance from the porch has an entablature with a pulvinated frieze. The entrance hall is divided from the main hall, which occupies the west half of the south range, by a mid-late 17th-century oak screen of three bays. It has round arches and a frieze with jewel-ornament. The bays are closed except for a doorway in the north bay. The hall has a large carved oak chimney-piece in the north wall. The room is lined with 17th-century oak panelling and has an early-17thcentury frieze of small round-headed panels with fluted pilasters. The larger panels, below the frieze, on the west wall are probably later than the others but earlier than the screen. There is a fair amount of ancient glass in the windows, including late-16th-century shields of arms of Ferrers impaling Bermingham, De La Roch, and Castell. The room in the south-west wing is lined with early-17th-century panelling and has a moulded stone square fire-place of late-17th-century type. The main staircase in the west range north of the hall has late-17th-century twisted balusters and a moulded handrail with curved ramps. The ceiling has a classical painting (Cupid and Psyche?) surrounded by bold foliage plaster ornament. The dining-room, the northernmost chamber of the west range, has modern deal panelling and grey marble fire-place. The ceiling is treated with ribs to form panels. A small chamber next east, in the north range, is also lined with deal panelling and has a grey marble fire-place in which is an iron fireback dated 1678 with the initials IBM. The fine late-17th-century ceiling has an oval panel surrounded by very bold floral ornament, and the spandrels have scrolled foliage also in high relief. Next east a passage leads from the modern north doorway and east of that is another 17th-century staircase with turned balusters, that leads up to the first and second floors. The rooms east of the hall and court mostly have 17th- and early-18th-century panelling, and in the passages is a good deal of reset late-16th-century panelling in small squares with moulded inner panels and raised diamond centres. The doorways are flanked by half-round fluted shafts. An 18th-century staircase, built into the original courtyard with a chamber north of it, rises from the corridor east of the entrance-hall.
In the upper story is a long gallery in the south range between the wings; it is lined with 17th-century panelling and has a ribbed ceiling of circles and half-circles in squares. The small chamber over the porch has an 18th-century painted canvas ceiling (Venus and Adonis?) and a low dado of bolection-moulded panels. A long chamber over the west half of the hall and including the south-west wing (State Bedroom?) has a very elaborate ceiling of bold scroll and foliage ornament, the middle part raised with coving. The chamber over the dining-room is lined with stained oak panelling of early-18th-century type; the ceiling has a circle of bay-leaf ornament and square side-panels with foliage bosses. Some of the other rooms, in the north and east ranges, have 17th- or 18th-century panelling, and one has an early-17th-century overmantel of small panels. All the fire-places in these rooms have moulded late-17th-century surrounds as in the south-west wing. Several of them have carved friezes, swags of fruit or flowers, cherubs holding garlands, &c. In the attics are a few exposed roof timbers of the 18th century, a little wall panelling, and wide oak floor-boards.
North-east of the house is a detached two-storied gabled building of L-shaped plan with walls of late16th-century brickwork having moulded brick stringcourses. It has arched doorways and square windows with moulded wood frames. In the roof are gabled dormers. It was apparently a bakehouse and brewhouse and has moulded ceiling beams. A pigeon-house farther north-east, of brick, is dated 1725; it contains about 800 nests. There are large early-18th-century stables east of the house; the turned stall-posts are interesting.
No mention of Castle Bromwich appears in Domesday Book, it being then a portion of Aston. Wido de Bramewic is mentioned in 1168, (fn. 8) and Alan de Bromwych in 1185. (fn. 9) In 1287 Henry de Chastel de Bromwych appears, (fn. 10) and in the same year Anselm son of Robert de Brumwyk received half the lands of his sister Juliana, with reversion of the other half on the deaths on the tenants. (fn. 11)
At this time land in Bromwich and neighbouring hamlets constituted a knight's fee held of Roger de Somery as of his castle of Dudley by a number of tenants. Among these at the time of Roger's death in 1291 were Anselm de Bromych who held 1½ hides in 'Wodebromych' as 1/6 fee; Henry son of Robert, 1 hide in Bromwich as 1/8 fee; Henry de Castello, 1 virgate as 1/32; fee; Thomas de Bromwych, 1 virgate as 1/32; fee; and John de Bradwell, 3 virgates as 1/10; fee. (fn. 12) On the death of Roger's son John de Somery in 1322 these holdings were represented by Anselm de Bromwich, 1/5 fee in Castel Bromwich; Henry son of Robert (1/8 and 1/32;), Thomas de Castello (1/32;), and William de Cloteshale (1/32;) in Bromwich; and John de Bradewell (1/10;) in Little Bromwich. (fn. 13) John's heirs were his sisters, Margaret wife of John de Sutton, and Joan widow of Thomas de Botetourt; the overlordship of Castle Bromwich passed to the latter, (fn. 14) and the manor was held in 1435 of the heirs of Sir John Botetourt. (fn. 15)
Isabel granddaughter of Anselm succeeded him in 1345, and the manor was settled on herself and her husband, William de Peto, (fn. 16) who occurs as a collector of wool for Warwickshire in 1347. (fn. 17) William died without issue, and Isabel subsequently married Sir John de la Roche. (fn. 18) Sir John died in 1375 and his son Thomas, the latter's elder brother John having died about 1382, (fn. 19) also inherited lands in Wales and Ireland, and on his death left two daughters, of whom the younger, Ellen wife of Sir Edmund Ferrers of Chartley, Staffs., received Castle Bromwich Manor. (fn. 20) Sir Edmund died in 1435 and was succeeded by his son William. (fn. 21) The latter purchased more land from Sir Ralph Boteler and others in 1445, (fn. 22) and died in 1450, being succeeded by his daughter Anne wife of Walter Devereux. It was then stated that the manor was not held of the king, and that the lords were unknown. (fn. 23) Elizabeth widow of Sir William Ferrers was granted rights in the manor for life, and in 1455 passed them to the Archbishop of Canterbury, (fn. 24) which grant was reaffirmed by Walter Devereux, Lord Ferrers, in 1513. (fn. 25) Edward Devereux, who married Katherine Arden of Park Hall in this township, was owner in 1575, (fn. 26) and died in 1622, (fn. 27) when his son Walter succeeded. In 1634 Sir Walter settled the manor on his eldest son, Sir Essex Devereux, on the marriage of the latter; (fn. 28) but in 1639 Sir Essex was attainted, and the manor escheated to the Crown. (fn. 29) In the following year the reversion was granted to Robert Arden of Park Hall; (fn. 30) but in 1641 the manor was restored to Sir Walter Devereux, Leicester his younger son, and Anne widow of Sir Essex. (fn. 31) In 1646 Sir Walter successfully claimed the title of Viscount Hereford, which earlier members of his family had borne. (fn. 32) In 1647 Anne Devereux leased the manor to Richard Knightley of Fawsley, Northants, (fn. 33) and ten years later she sold it to John Bridgeman. (fn. 34) The long connexion of the Devereux family with Castle Bromwich terminated in 1712, when George Devereux, a bankrupt linen-draper of Shoreditch, London, sold his lands here. (fn. 35) The Bridgemans, who were created Barons Bradford in 1792 and Earls of Bradford in 1815, have held the manor from 1657 to the present day, the fifth earl being now owner and lord of the manor.
The manor of PARK HALL, or THE LODGE, was first called Park Hall in 1365, (fn. 36) and in 1405 appears as Le Logge juxta Bromwiche. (fn. 37) It appears to have originated in the park held by Roger de Somery in 1291, (fn. 38) the existence of which probably accounts for Sir John Botetourt being charged, in 1366, with having hunted in the free warren of the Earl of Warwick at Bromwich and carried away deer. (fn. 39) In 1373 Sir John is said to have granted Park Hall to Henry Arden. (fn. 40) Henry was succeeded about 1400 by his son Ralph, (fn. 41) and another Henry, son of Ralph, settled the manor in 1420 on himself and his wife Sybil. (fn. 42) Ralph died soon after, Sybil surviving him. (fn. 43) Robert son of Ralph succeeded and held the manor in 1434. (fn. 44) Robert died in 1452, seised of the manor of La Logge or Park Hall, (fn. 45) and is said to have been executed as a Yorkist; (fn. 46) his heir was his son Walter, aged two years and more. (fn. 47) Walter died in 1502, (fn. 48) and was succeeded by his son John. The latter, in 1510, was charged with having enlarged his park by the inclusion of 10 acres of arable land, called Lady Crofts, 'and accustomed to culture'; (fn. 49) and a lawsuit, concerning annuities to be paid out of the estate to his younger brothers, occurred in 1524. (fn. 50) He died in 1526, (fn. 51) and was succeeded by his son Thomas, who died in 1563. (fn. 52) The latter's son and heir William had predeceased his father in 1545, (fn. 53) and William's son Edward now succeeded, at the age of 30. (fn. 54) In 1572 he settled Park Hall and his other manors on his son Robert; (fn. 55) but in 1583 Edward was attainted of treason and executed, and the queen retained Park Hall during the life of his wife Mary. In 1603, on the death of Mary, Robert entered into possession of the manor, and in 1608 settled it on his son Sir Henry Arden and his wife Dorothy, daughter of Basil Fielding. Henry died in 1616 and Dorothy in 1625; their son Robert then entered into possession and in 1636 was heir to his grandfather. (fn. 56) This Robert received the reversion of Castle Bromwich Manor (q.v.) in 1640. (fn. 57) On his death, unmarried, in 1643 he was succeeded by four sisters, (fn. 58) of whom Dorothy and her husband, Harvey Bagot, received one-quarter of the manor of Park Hall. (fn. 59) Sir William Pooley, husband of Elizabeth, was also concerned in its possession. (fn. 60) In 1664, however, Sir Herbert Price, husband of another of the sisters, apparently held the whole. (fn. 61) In 1704 it was purchased from John Price, son of Sir Herbert, by John Bridgeman, (fn. 62) and it has since been held with Castle Bromwich Manor. In 1802 Thomas Chattock, whose family have been traced here back to 1241, (fn. 63) lived at Park Hall, (fn. 64) of which an earlier Thomas Chattock had a lease in 1606, his son John succeeding him in 1612. (fn. 65) The manor-house has disappeared, leaving only a dry moat in a meadow; and its successor on another site, a large edifice of red brick, was ruinous in 1938, except for one wing inhabited by a farm servant and his family.
A third reputed manor was that of HODGE HILL, first mentioned as such in 1622. (fn. 66) It appears never to have been separately held, but to have gone with Castle Bromwich Manor, though as late as 1810 it is still specifically mentioned. (fn. 67) No trace of a manor-house is now to be found, except a moat near Hodge Hill Common; and the land is rapidly being developed as building sites.
The prior and convent of the alien priory of Tickford, Bucks., held tithes of corn in Castle Bromwich. These passed to the Crown in the 14th century owing to the war with France, and were leased in 1355 to Thomas Shirreve, parson of the church of Sheldesley, and Sir John Botetourt. (fn. 68) The Guild of Deritend held lands which were granted in 1549 to Thomas Fisher and Thomas Dabridgecourt, 'to be held in free socage, not in chief'. (fn. 69)
The whole structure was rebuilt in red brick from 1726 to 1731. The church was restored by Mr. C. E. Bateman, who discovered that the roof was more ancient than the walls and has timbers of great size, supported by oak pillars, 18–20 in. square and 23 ft. high, now encased in plaster, suggesting a former church of timber-framing.
The chancel has a round-headed east window flanked on both faces by panelled red sandstone pilasters with moulded caps, and a moulded sill and archivolts with panelled keystones. The internal capitals are continued as a string-course. In the side-walls are two windows with segmental heads, also with flanking pilasters and keystones. The sills have gadroon ornament beneath them. In the east and west angles are fluted pilasters with enriched capitals and there is an entablature all round below a flat ceiling in which are three square panels. The east and west panels contain oval frames and the middle has a central large rose in radiating rays. All have enriched spandrels.
The walls are of red brick with red sandstone dressings and moulded stone plinths. Over the side windows are rectangular panels with stone frames infilled with brick. Above these and the east window is a cornice and over that is an attic stage which has blocked lights, rectangular in the east wall with an eared architrave and, in each side wall, two oval lights: the parapets are plain. At the outer angles are rusticated sandstone dressings. The mouth of the chancel has fluted pilasters at the angles.
The nave has north and south colonnades of five bays with Doric columns of plaster (said to enclose ancient oak posts) and segmental arches with rusticated quasivoussoirs. A sixth (western) bay has square fluted plastered piers corresponding with the pilasters at the entrance to the chancel and adjoining the nave side of the west responds. Within this bay of the nave is the west gallery and organ. The walls have entablatures less rich than that of the chancel. The ceiling is flat with moulded ribs, forming a large panel with a half-round bay at each end. The westernmost bay has a central circular panel. The gallery front projects in a curve to nearly the length of the fifth bay: its sides return between the inner faces of the square piers.
The aisles have each five windows which externally resemble those in the chancel. At the east ends are bull's-eye windows. A segmental archway divides each aisle from the westernmost bay, in which is a doorway with a moulded architrave, segmental head with keyblock, cornice, and pediment. In the tympanum of the internal round head of each is an inscription: 'This Chappel was begun to be rebuilt in the year of our Lord 1726 and finished in the year 1731.' The oak inner lobbies are modern. Over the doorway is a round window with a moulded stone frame. The attic of this stage rises above the main level with a segmental pediment and panelled pilasters that stand above the rusticated pilasters that flank the entrance. The panel in the attic stage is of stone and has a moulded frame with a segmental head. The west face is similar but has a glazed bull's-eye window as at the east end. The ceilings are flat with moulded cornices.
The west tower has a low basement stage and over it a tall stage (of three stories) unbroken by stringcourses. The basement stage has wide ashlar pilasters at the angles; in the upper part the pilasters are narrower and rusticated up to the cornice. A doorway opens into the tower from the nave. The basement stage has north and south windows like those of the aisles and a smaller similar light over the west doorway. The second story has similar north, south, and west windows; the third story has a west bull's-eye window; those to the side walls are altered to a clock and a sun-dial. The top stage has similar segmental-headed windows fitted with louvers. Above the cornice is a panelled parapet with panelled stone pilasters at the angles and moulded copings. On the angles are enriched urns with weather-vanes.
The furniture is mainly contemporary. The altar and reredos (probably later) are of carved marble with the Resurrection of Christ in glory. The communion rails are of scrolled and foliated ironwork with the Georgian royal arms in the middle. A high dado of bolection-moulded and fielded panels lines the chancel. The pulpit is a 'three decker' of round plan with round-headed fielded panels in three tiers, and an inlaid sounding-board. Desks below for the clerk and sexton are inclosed west and south by high, panelling with carved foliage friezes. There are private pews in the chancel with five stalls. A north private pew in the nave to pair with the south pulpit, &c., is of high panelling. The other pews of less height have panelled standards. The font is of veined grey marble and has a round bowl with gadroon ornament and a baluster stem.
The register of baptisms begins in 1619 and that of marriages in 1630; but marriages after 1749 and all burials before 1810 were celebrated at Aston. (fn. 70)
The church was originally a chapel in the parish of Aston, and is mentioned as such in 1535. (fn. 71) A bequest for lights at the altar of St. Mary in the chapel of 'Wodybromwic' was made in 1301. (fn. 72) It was presented to the hamlet by one of the Bridgemans in the 18th century. An ecclesiastical parish, in the patronage of the Earl of Bradford, was formed in 1878.
Mrs. Bridget Bridgeman gave by will £100 for bread to the poor of Castle Bromwich. The endowment is now secured by an annual payment of £4 paid out of the Castle Bromwich Estate and distributed by the rector to the poor in bread.
Knight's Charity. By indenture dated 20 May 1736 it was recited that Richard Knight by deed dated 1 July 20 Elizabeth granted to trustees a messuage called Town House or Church House with parcels of land known as Town Crofts or Church Crofts, the issues to be employed in the repair of the bridges and highways, for the benefit of the poor, and in beautifying and adorning the chapel of Castle Bromwich. The property has since been sold and the endowment is now represented by stock producing an annual income of £105 (approx.). By a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 29 Jan. 1915 a body of nine trustees was appointed to administer the charity and directions given for a yearly sum of £30 out of the income to be appropriated to eleemosynary purposes, the residue to be applied under one or more of the following heads: (1) the maintenance and repair of the parish church, (2) repair of bridges or highways, and (3) for the benefit of the poor of Castle Bromwich.
Dame Mary Bridgeman by will dated 19 Nov. 1711 bequeathed to trustees £500 for the purchase of lands and such charitable uses as the trustees should think proper. Certain tenements at Kingsbury were bought and by a deed dated 24 June 1725 were conveyed to trustees, the issues to be applied as follows: a yearly sum of £4 to be expended in the purchase of Bibles and Prayer Books for distribution to poor inhabitants of Castle Bromwich; £3 yearly to provide physic and other necessaries for the sick; £3 yearly in providing clothes for two or more poor inhabitants; £4 yearly for teaching poor children to read and write; £5 yearly for apprenticing; 20s. yearly to the minister of the chapel for preaching two sermons; any surplus to be expended in any of the charitable purposes mentioned or in providing bread for the poor. By a Scheme of the said Commissioners dated 9 Dec. 1913 trustees were appointed and directions given for the income to be divided into five equal parts, of which one part should be applicable for educational purposes, two parts for ecclesiastical purposes, and the remaining two parts for non-ecclesiastical purposes. The income of the ecclesiastical branch to be applied as follows: the yearly sum of £3 to be paid to the rector of Castle Bromwich St. Mary and St. Margaret for not less than six sermons annually; £4 per annum to be expended in Bibles and Prayer Books for the poor, and the residue expended in the supply of clothes, &c., or other articles in kind for necessitous inhabitants, members of the Church of England. And the income of the non-ecclesiastical branch to be applied in making payments under various heads for the benefit of poor parishioners. The income of the charity amounts to £200 (approx.) per annum, derived from the rent of a farm at Hurley, and from investments.