Updated: 18th Oct 2014

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New Hall


New Hall, before it became a hotel


New Hall Area 1887

NEW HALL is said to have been described as a manor in 1435 by the homage in a court baron at Sutton after Sir Richard Stanhope's death, when, it was stated, he held it of the Earl of Warwick by service of 10s. 10d. a year. (fn. 244) He left a son and heir James, but in 1442 Katherine, widow of William Basset the younger of Fledborough (and sister of Richard Stanhope), (fn. 245) demised New Hall for 21 years to William Deping of Sutton and Richard Lee of Maney. (fn. 246)

Thomas Gibbons is said to have bought New Hall in 1552. (fn. 247) In 1610 Thomas and Edward Gibbons conveyed the manor (with a water-mill) to Henry Sacheverell. (fn. 248) He died in 1620, (fn. 249) and New Hall passed to his son Valence Sacheverell (fn. 250) and then to George, eldest son of Valence, who died without issue in 1715. (fn. 251) George Sacheverell bequeathed it to his great-nephew, Charles Chadwick, who assumed the surname of Sacheverell (fn. 252) and who, in 1739, mortgaged his New Hall estate to Francis Horton of Wolverhampton. (fn. 253) On his death, in 1779, New Hall passed to his sister Dorothy who died unmarried in 1784, and bequeathed the manor to Charles Chadwick son of her half-brother John. (fn. 254) His son Hugo Mavesyn Chadwick (who had succeeded him in 1829) was followed in 1854 by his son John de Heley Mavesyn Chadwick, who died in 1897 (fn. 255) and whose mortgagees were holding New Hall in 1892 and 1900, when it was used as a school. (fn. 256) Mrs. Owen was tenant in 1936. (fn. 257)

'The borough of Sutton Coldfield', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4: Hemlingford Hundred (1947), pp. 230-245. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42686&strquery=sutton coldfield - Date accessed: 09 August 2011.
Above links refer to source. Copied with permission.

New Hall Hotel
The oldest Moated House in the world!

A Brief History

New Hall is reputed to be the oldest listed inhabited moated house in England. Prior to the Norman Conquest the land was owned by Edwin, Earl of Mercia, who was executed by William the Conqueror in 1071 and his property was annexed by the Crown. In 1126 Henry I exchanged it for other lands with Roger de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick. By 1340 the estate was held by another Earl of Warwick, Thomas Beauchamp, who in the following year released it to Sir John Lizours, Knight, using the name “New Hall” for the first time. During the Wars of the Roses, 1455- 1485, the fortunes of the Hall waxed and waned, as did those of the Earls or Warwick, and in 1487 Anne, Countess of Warwick, ceded it again to the crown. By 1525 William Gibbons was in residence and it was his son, Thomas Gibbons, who made the first extensions in 1542.

1590 saw the advent of perhaps the most notable ancient family to occupy the Hall. Henry Sacheverall of Morley and Callow purchased the estate and embarked upon improvements to the house. On his death in 1620, it passed to his son Valens, and he in turn was succeeded by his son George who had for his chaplain the famous Jacobite firebrand Dr Henry Sacheverail (no relation). The doctor took up residence with his patron at New Hall after his trial for sedition in 1709 and he was later imprisoned at the house. George’s great nephew, Charles Sacheverall Chadwick, a descendent of one of the Knights who fought for the conqueror at Hastings, inherited the estate in 1715. The house remained a Chadwick possession until 1897, though it was used as a boy’s school for a few years. John de Heley Chadwick, the last of the Chadwick family to reside at New Hall, added to its size and appearance in 1870 by enlarging the north wing and building up the central tower.

Walter Wilkinson purchased the estate in 1903 and resided at the Hall for the remainder of his life. Alfred Ernest Owen was the next owner in 1923, and New Hall later became the home of his famous son, Sir Alfred Owen, Chairman of Rubery Owen and Company Limited. Michael Blakemore another Midland business man was the last person to live at New Hall before it was bought by Thistle Hotels in 1985 and has been run as a as a luxury Country House Hotel since May 1988. New Hall is one of the leading hotels in Birmingham and the West Midlands area, receiving many awards and accolades since its opening and has become famous for looking after many of the stars that perform in Birmingham and the National Exhibition Centre. The Great Hall and the Dining Room are of Anglo Saxon origin. The walls of the Great Hall are lined with Oak panelling of the late 16 Century. Fine mullioned windows contain medallions of Flemish glass of excellent 16 Century workmanship. The fireplace is 17 Century with a carved Oak overpiece. In the Dining Room the moulded stone fireplace is late 17 Century. The 16” Century Flemish glass has old Dutch wording. Other windows have the Sacheverall Arms and Crests of the various branches of the Sacheverall family and the “Fate of the Cow” is shown in three insets. The Great Chamber originally constructed in 1542 by Thomas Gibbons, was enlarged by Henry Sacheverall at the end of the 16 century, the oak panelling being of this period. The fine ribbed ceiling of moulded plasterwork, adorned with ormula and gilt, is also Elizabethan. The windows are glazed with small leaded quarters and many have diamond writings by George Sacheverall, dated 1689. Two superb 18 Century chandeliers complete the room. The moat, originally formed in medieval times to provide protection, is fed by seven springs. The terraces, which travel southwards of the moat, are 16 or 17 century and other features of the garden were probably added during the 1 and 19 centuries. The grounds have extensive established shrubbed and wooded areas. Source: New Hall Hotel

8th June 2006, My wife phoned me and asked me if I would like to come down to where she works and see the Falcons. So I did, and here are the images from New Hall Hotel were they were doing a promotion for a car, of which the Falconry was part of the event. In image 3, you can see a driveway, apparently people have heard a horse and carriage driving along it, with nothing there! Image 6 is a close up of Image 5, showing a Heron standing patiently in the hot afternoon sun. The Baby Barn Owl was four weeks old and about ready to shed its down and show his already formed feathers beneath. He was raised in an incubator. The Falcons are all hand reared by an real expert.

Allegedly haunted by a coach travelling along the drive


Gate entrance to New Hall Hotel. Xmas 2006


Driveway leading to New Hall. Xmas 2006

New Hall stands about a mile south-east of the parish church, surrounded by a rectangular moat that washes the walls on three sides and incloses a garden to the west. (fn. 24) The house is said to date from the 13th or 14th century. Although there are no windows or other architectural features to verify this, the greywhite masonry of the walls of the west range and south wing is certainly very ancient. These formed an L-shaped plan to which, late in the 16th century, the north wing, containing the great Banqueting Hall, was added, approximately to match the other, but all of red sandstone. The main stair-hall against it is also of the same period and material. The one-storied wing west of the Hall is probably of a little later date; it is of red and grey stone. A narrow wing north of it was added probably early in the 17th century: it was of two stories but was heightened to form a high tower in 1796, when a good deal of alteration and enlargement was carried out. The modern enlargements are mostly of 1870, the date inscribed on part of the west front.

The south-east wing containing the Dining Room has walls of grey-white stonework, probably 13th or 14th century. The plinth and two or three courses above it are of ashlar (perhaps later repair) the remainder of weatherworn rubble, mostly squared stones, with ashlar angle-dressings. The gabled east end has a coping and apex pinnacle of later red stone. The ground-floor window is modern (1796?) 'Gothic' set in a former wider opening of which the straight joints remain. The side windows of the Dining Rooms are similar. The square-headed windows of the second and third stories, the former with transoms, appear to be insertions, of the 16th or 17th century. The north side, towards the courtyard, has a projecting chimneystack of red stone, with a moulded stone fire-place of the late 17th century. The south side has a larger square projection. Of this the plinth is of 16th-century brick with stone quoins and was probably the base of a Tudor chimney-stack. The upper part for two stories is mainly of later brickwork with white stone quoins, the chimney-stack being converted into a square bay when the late-17th-century fire-place was made in the opposite wall. The bay was widened in 1796 on the west side, and a third story was added above the whole widened bay to form a low tower above the roof with a still higher square turret (fourth story) above the newer part. This work is of brickwork with red stone quoins and 'Gothic' windows, and has embattled parapets. It has carved stones—shields with monograms CS and [CC?] and date 1796, the Sacheverell arms, and the motto EN BON FOY. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42686&strquery=sutton%20coldfield



New Hall School circa 1892. The college was opened in 1885 with Mr FWW Howell as the Principal. Closed by 1903.

April 2012

May 2013


Moat Bridge


Nuthatch

October 2014

This is Spud, he is feral and is a most welcome guest with the Gardeners and Housekeeping, looking well Spud.

A History in More Detail

Standing about a mile to the southeast of the parish church of Sutone Colfield (to use it’s antiquated spelling), New Hall rises majestically from a wide, deep moat that has lapped its walls for over 700 years. It lies within 26 acres of finely timbered land, rich pasture and elegant gardens and is widely reputed to be the oldest inhabited moated house in the country. The history and development of the magnificent manor runs almost parallel to that of the parish Church of Holy Trinity, both being founded at the beginning of the 13th Century with signifcant enlargements during the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries. It stands proud today asa constant reminder of the changing tastes of countless generations, reflective also of the many famous families that have resided here.

The Earls of Mercia

The history of Sutone Colfield can be traced back to the time of the Mercian Kings, prior to the Norman Conquest. Edwin, Earl of Mercia, and a grandson of Lady Godiva, owned much of the land, all of which was annexed by the crown at his execution by William the Conqueror in 1071. The Domesday book of 1086 rates Sutone Colfield at 8 hides, one of which, it seems highly likely was the New Hall Estate.

The Earls of Warwick

In 1126 King Henry I exchanged the land in Sutone Colfield for other land with Roger de Newburgh, the then Norman Earl of Warwick, and, with exception to two short intervals in history the Warwick family held the estate for just over 2 hundred years. The spirit of the times made defense an essential consideration when considering a site for a house. In a county with an abundance of streams and springs, it was only natural that the habit of surrounding ones houses with water for protection developed in the area. The seven springs in the near locality of the site of the present house almost certainly played a part in the Earl of Warwick’s decision to build the manor house circa 1200. The first house was built in grey white masonry, most of which still stands today, although almost certainly with some later repairs. The plinth and two or three courses above it are ashlar, the remainder being of weather-worn rubble, mostly squared stones with ashlar angle dressings. This forms part of the present west range and south wing. Once the moat was established the only means of entry was a drawbridge by the main door, which today is used as access to the Bridge Restaurant.

In 1327 at the beginning of Edward III’s reign William de Sutton, a descendant of Guy, Earl of Warwick, held New Hall. The estate then passed on to Robert de Sutton, a Coventry merchant, before passing back to the Earls of Warwick, more specifically Thomas Beauchamp, who, in 1341, released all his rights in one messuage, called New Hall, to Sir John Lizours, Knight, who was attached to the Court of the Earl of Warwick. This is first appearance of the name, New Hall.

A reminder of the long association of the Earl’s of Warwick with New Hall can be found on the first floor half—landing of the main staircase in the form of a bear and ragged staff (leading down from the Great Chamber to the Bridge Restaurant entrance). The bear has been emblematic of the house of Warwick, since their first Earl Arth, a Knight of the Round Table, adopted the bear to represent him. The staff is attributed to the second Earl, Morvid, who, according to legend, added it after overcoming a giant who attacked him with a tree, that had been plucked from the ground by its roots and stripped of all its branches.

Sir John Lizours and his descendents were to be the owners of New Hall for the two centuries following it’s ownership by the Earls of Waiwick. Of direct Norman descent, heralding from Lizours, a village in L’Eure, approximately 18 miles from Rouen, the family settled priinarily in Nottinghamshire, and Sir John, who acquired New Hall in 1341, was the third Sir John of Fledburgh. l At this time, New Hall amounted to 407 acres and in 1359 Sir John entailed his estates, so no further record of ownership can be traced until 1431, when Sir Richard Stanhope, Knight, was granted various properties, including New Hall, by Thomas Basset of Fledburgh in return for a life annuity of twelve pounds. The connection between the Bassetts and Lizours is likely that of marriage. Sir Richard Stanhope’s daughter, Katherine, married William Bassett, son of Thomas. On his death in 1442 Katherine demised the estate for twenty one years to William Deping of Sutton and Richard Ley of Maney, by the name of “Dominum Vocatum".  For the period of the Wars of the Roses, 1455 - 1485, very few records of New Hall have been found as its fortunes followed the cycle of the wheel, as did those of the current Earls of Warwick in relation to the current stage of the Wars. The “Kingmaker”, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, was killed in 1487 during the Battle of Barnet. Ann, Countess of Warwick, ceded all her lands, with the exception of Erdington, to King Henry VII, of which New Hall was included. It is likely, given that the young Earl of Warwick had been imprisoned in the Tower of London for some time, that this "gift" to the Crown was somewhat forced.

The Gibbons Family

By 1521 Henry VII had been on the throne for 16 years. And in this year William Gibbons is mentioned as living at New Hall. He was brother in law to Bishop Vesey who, in 1528, obtained a Charter from Henry VIII placing the Chase and Manor of Sutton Coldfield in the hands of the local body known as the Warden & Society for  the benefit of the inhabitants in perpetuity. The Bishop nominated his Brother-in- Law as the first Warden, his son, Thomas, succeeded him. Bishop Vesey’s association with Hemy VIII continued and a Royal Visit to Sutton was arranged. Thomas Gibbons, being a man of some means, coupled with his Wardenship, began extensive alterations to New Hall in preparation for the great event. The north wing, including the Great Chamber, was added to match the existing building, but in red sandstone, and the main stair hall against it is of the same period and material. The Great Hall (currently the fore part of the Restaurant) was extended and the large square projection on the south sidegwas built as a great  Tudor chimney stack, of which only the base now remains, as it was later converted into a bay. Magnificent 16th Century gables in the centre and on the left of the main front were constructed. Windows were added to the south and southeast wings and the square headed windows of the second and third storeys, the former with transoms, appear to be insertions of this period.

According to legend King Henry’s visit to Sutton could have been fatal, as he was unexpectedly charged by a wild boar during a hunting trip with Bishop Vesey. An unseen marksman, in the form of a young, and beautiful woman, whose family had been dispossessed of their property, shot an arrow through the beast’s heart, killing it before the King was harmed. In return he ordered restitution of said lands and presented the woman with the Tudor Rose, which would henceforth be the emblem of Sutton Coldfield, her native town.

In 1559 Thomas Gibbons bought the advowson of Sutton Parish Church for 21 years, which gave him the right to appoint clergy there This, presumably, was a lucrative investment as many of the landed gentry indulged in the practice. However, Thomas seems to have mishandled the privilege, as in 1581, he was bought before the Star Chamber Court for wrongful appropriation of church lands. He died five years later and was succeeded by his son, also named Thomas.

The Sacheverell Family

1590 saw the advent of perhaps the most notable family ever to occupy New Hall. Henry Sacheverell of Morley and Callow, in Derbyshire purchased the estate some time after the turn of the century, and he must have obtained possession soon after the death of Thomas Gibbons, for his initials and the date 1590 are carved in the one storey bay window, to the south of the tower, suggesting that this wing is his work. He was the representative of an ancient family, his name coming from the Saultechevreuil in Normandy. He served as Sheriff of Derbyshire and married a daughter of Sir Humphrey Bradborne of Leicestershire, by whom he had a family of at least three children. Henry Sacheverell embarked upon improvements to the Hall and was most clever in his adaptations, but he appears to have demolished part of the existing structure and rebuilt in the style pertaining to the period. In the lower part of the old front wall was inserted a fine oak studded door as the main entrance. Above the door was placed a large shield displaying the Sacheverell/Chadwick coat of arms, the Sacheverell crest of a goat and their Norman French motto ‘En Bon Foy’, meaning ‘In Good Faith’. The former staircase was elaborated and decorated with heraldic beasts, and possibly work was done on the fireplaces and chimney stacks in the Dining Room and Hall.

The Great Chamber was enlarged by the addition of several bays, which were characteristic of that period; fine gables surmounted of carved fnials, and splendid Elizabethan stone mullioned windows, the front window overhanging the moat and corbelling out on many mouldings from a central support of semi hexagonal forms, containing loop holes. Northeast of the house just outside the moat, a two story building was erected, with walls of scabbled squared rubble. The size and windows are suggestive that it was used as a chapel. On Henry’s death in 1620 his bastard son Valens inherited the estate. It was not unusual in the Middle Ages, or through the Tudor period for a man of recognised social standing to take on a mistress. Given that many marriages of the time, especially those of a son and heir by arranged by parents in light of possible settlements and dowries, this is perhaps understandable, and, it has been argued excusable. Thus it was that "Mistress Keics" gave Henry two illegitimate sons, and it was to the elder that he bestowed New Hall.

In 1645, during the Civil War, Valens was charged with “compounding for delinquency in deserting his house for enemy quarters”, to which end he was fined a sum of 542 pounds. He was a Cavalier, and it is said that Charles Il (? he did - mk! Does this mean the man who would be Charles II?) stayed one night at New Hall during his flight from England. Soon after this  Valens must have let New Hall to a relation by marriage, Sir Walter Devereux, cousin of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex and High Steward of Sutton Corporation. Valens’ son, George succeeded his father at New Hall and later also inherited an estate in Callow from his uncle, Jacinth Sacheverell. The right to bear the Arms of Sacheverell was granted to George, albeit with additional "border gules" (a red border), this right had been denied his father due to his lineage. He married twice, firstly Lucy Bennet, and secondly to Mary Wilson, who survived him. There were no surviving children from either union.  George, albeit a little eccentric, was also, like his father, a man of strong opinions. He was an Elected Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, and they are still in possession of a silver salver and tankard engraved with the Sacheverell Arms presented to them in the year of his death. He was also and enthusiastic Jacobite and on his appointment as High Sheriff of Derbyshire he nominated Dr. Henry Sacheverell as his chaplain  a famous firebrand for the Jacobite cause.

In 1709, during a sermon given at St. Pau1’s he made a personal attack against Lord Gondolphin, the Whig Prime Minister; the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London were in attendence. The contents of the sermon were committed to print and Dr. Sacheverell was charged with sedition. He was found guilty and suspended from preaching for three years, and the offending sermon was ordered to be burned by the public hangman. Queen Anne’s was bought to the trial each day for the three weeks in which it took place in support of Dr. Sacheverell, and in general this reflected the public opinion. The light conviction only increased his popularity, and played some considerable part in the defeat of the Whigs at the next General Election. Shortly after the trail Dr. Sacheverell took up residence with his patron at New Hall.

Then on 20th October 1714, at Sutton Coldfield Parish Church, he preached a sermon, to a congregation augmented with some two hundred Jacobites, so inflammatory that his audience left the church with riot in their minds and proceeded to set fire to meeting houses and generally disturbing the peace. As a result the Doctor was put under house arrest at New Hall, and was promptly forgotten by his ‘admirers’ and by the govemment. Whilst here, he managed to convince George that he was a kinsman, although this appears unlikely, more so that he was really descended from the Cheveralls of Dorset. George, was convinced however and bequeathed a moiety of his estate in Callow to Henry, which he inherited on George’s death. Henry later married George’s widow. When looking at the life of George Sacheverell we see two very different portraits, of which in both it seems that there are elements of truth. On the one hand, we look at the Latin inscription on his monument (in the family vault that he was granted permission to build in the Parish Church) and he seems a man ‘endowed with great genius, noted for his affability, politeness and serious study, who, during the Civil War followed arts and poetry rather than the war". He was the Justice of Sutton and for many years, it appears that he afforded an exemplary example of piety towards God, and generosity to the poor.

In contrast to this somewhat glowing portrayal several of the Sacheverells were suspected of magical practices. It seems certain that one of them was an alchemist, as verses written at the time show. A poem entitled "Sacheverell’s Warning" indicates that this was George, given that he was the last in the line. Another poem, “The Alchemist of New Hall" describes a visitation from a demon, clearly indicating that there was a school of thought that considered Sacheverell to be in league of the devil. Copies of both these poems can be found on the walls in the bar. The exact whereabouts of Sacheverell’s study at New Hall is not certain, but when the passage known as the Screens, at the side of the Great Hall was removed a room was discovered, also oak paneled and could well have been a secret study. Given that he outlived his sister, and had no heir of his own, the estate passed to his great nephew, Charles Chadwick, on his death in 1715.

 

The Chadwick Family

The Chadwick’s held land at Berewick in Salop and Mavesyn Ridware in Staffordshire. They were of ancient lineage being descended. from.Mavesyn, or Malvoisin, one of the Knights who fought at Hastings for William the Conqueror. It appears that Charles ‘Sacheverell’ Chadwick took up residence in New Hall in 1729, presumably in preparation for his marriage. To paraphrase an article by “Gentlemen’s Magazine" written at the time painting is not to the taste of the gentry here, although on the whole it is an agreeable neighborhood, if only because of the complete lack of party zeal. This was to change in .1745 when an incident occurred that many say is responsible for one of the ghosts at New Hall. An army, headed by the Duke of Cumberland, was sent in pursuit of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who was marching from Scotland to England with his eye on the throne. The advance party lost its way near Tyburn and stopped a local man to ask directions. The man, however, had no roof to his mouth and was unable to make himself understood, at which an officer order his execution, believing him to be a spy. The body was thrown in a ditch in Eachelhurst, and the head carried, in triumph atop a halberd, to New Shipton, where it was Hung into an oak tree. The tree was felled in 1827 and the skull rolled out. Since then, it is said, that a bodyless head can be seen drifting from Wylde Green Road across New Hall estate, to where it’s body was thrown.

Charles Chadwick died under natural circumstances in 1779 and his spinster sister, Dorothy, inherited the estate. Six years later, whilst counting out some money to donate to charity a candle set iire to her bonnet and the good lady passed away, leaving the property to Ralph Floyer of Hints for the rest of his days, although, the youngest brother of Charles, John, actually inherited the estate. John had married an heiress and, on Ralph Floyer’s death in 1793 began alterations to New Hall, although he never actually lived here, rather prepared it for his son, Charles. The bay on the west side was widened and a third storey was added above the whole widened bay to form a low tower above the roof with a still higher square turret, making a fourth storey above the newer part. The extensions were in brickwork with red stone quoins and Gothic windows, and having ernbattled parapets. Much of John’s work was altered in 1868, by his great grandson, but it was he who first built the tower, and dated it 1976, with his initials, those of his son (Charles Chadwick), and also his grandson (Hugo Mavesyn Chadwick). Charles, adorned several windows pieces of painted glass from Flanders, representing legendary subjects, and also made a valuable collection of books and pictures.

Charles’ only son Hugo inherited New Hall on the death of his father in 1829 but spent most of his life travelling, and whilst in England, tended to stay at his home in Ridware. New Hall was occupied by a farmer for most of the first decade and largely used for storage purposes, the room above the Great Chamber was used as an apple store, and by 1840 the iloor was so rotted that it became unsafe. The house was then let to a Birmingham merchant named Jacot, until Hugo returned from his final journey and took up residence at New Hall, circa 1850. He thoroughly repaired the armorial cornice in the Great Chamber and restored much of the building, passing  the estate to his son on his death in 1854.

John de Heley Chadwick was a Lieutenant in the Second Dragoon Guards and had served his country with credit during the Indian Mutiny. His inheritance consisted of four ancestral estates: Healey Hall, New Hall, Callow and Mavesyn Ridware. He married the eldest daughter of Major F. B. Good of the Bengal Cavalry. He was also a Justice for the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Warwick. However, despite his position of prominence he was not only hugely extravagant but also a gambler that, despite bringing more life and gaiety to New Hall than had ever been seen before he also bought about his bankruptcy in 1883. To help settle some of his debts a sale was arranged of numerous items at New Hall, of which one were the chandeliers that hang in the Great Chamber, these were sold to a Mr. Chatwin of Edgbaston. Fortunately, his son offered them back to the then owner of New Hall, Mr. Walter Wilkinson in 1910.

New Hall College

In 1882 Aston Rural Sanitary Authority had laid main sewers to the Hall, a somewhat modern convenience for the time, but one that would have played a part in the decision being made to use the building and surrounding twenty acres for a school. The college opened in 1885 with one Mr. F. W. W. Howell as Principal, although he tragically drowned whilst on a visit to Iceland, and by 1891, the school was run by Mr. J. Everard Healey and his son. Over the next few years New Hall would see an increase of 14 boarding pupils to sixty two. The Great Hall was used for dining purposes; the Great Chamber employed as a reception room, and on occasion, as a special Assembly Hall. The lofty upper room, were used as dormitories, whilst the lower ones were used as classrooms. The second bridge was enclosed. The chapel, which had been used as a coach house was adapted as a carpenter’s shop, and later as a gymnasium. Playing areas were laid  out in the iields and gardens. In 1902, electricity was laid on. Schoolboy tales abounded, but the most memorable tell of cunning monster pike living in the moat steadfastly refusing to be caught, and of the eerie old owl that lives in the tower, and was constantly exploited as a means to scare new boys. Although, it is unknown why, it seems there was a common habit of throwing ink wells in the moat given the great number that were discovered when it was cleared by it’s next owner. The College focussed on preparing pupils for Professional or Commercial careers. with particular importance on French and German, and claimed many successes m Public Examinations. In spite of this though it was not a success and was eventually bought as a private residence again in 1903.

The Wilkinson Family

Walter Wilkinson, joint owner of a wholesale millinery business, was responsible, with the help of his wife for the modernising and redecorating of New Hall, returning , it to its former splendour. They moved in to the Hall in 1904 where home and garden became the main occupiers of his time. Many garden parties were held, often for charities, and these sometimes included an account of the Hall’s history to the guests. After an operation in 1922 Mr. Wilkinson died of a heart attack, aged 74, and the
estate passed to his wife, having no heirs to speak of. On her death a Mr. Alfred Owen, an industrialist from the midlands, bought the estate.

The Owen Family

Alfred Ernest Owen, was born in Wrexham, Wales, and throughout his life played an active part in the development of bicycle, motor car and aeroplane. In 1893 he moved to Darlston, Staffordshire, where, with his partner, Mr. Rubery, he set up a small engineering business. By 1896 he had developed the presses steel car chassis which won the company a gold medal, and over time he built up the firm, weathering even the Depression of the 1920s. By the time of the New Hall purchase "Rubery Owen” was synonymous with the supply  of car components.  In 1923 Alfred Owen, his wife and young family oftieially moved into New Hall. A keen collector of arts in general, Alfred had a special love for English colour printing, and built up one of the first complete collections of Baxter prints, of which his new home was supposed to be the ideal setting. It was not to be. Mr. Owen’s early death in 1929 meant they were left undisturbed in a vault that they had been stored in for later reframing, until their later discovery in 1981. Florence Owen, took on the daunting task of running the New Hall estate and bringing up her family alone after the death of her husband. For the next twenty nine years New Hall flourished under her ministrations, and gave pleasure to many thousands of visitors. Perhaps also, this was the reason why they suffered a loss of some three thousand pounds worth of jewellery to theft, a cat burglar managed to climb the water pipe and entered the house through a window on the frst floor.

In former years bars had protected this window, but they had been removed so as to enable occupants to escape in case of fire during the war. They had not been replaced afterwards. Florence Owen died in 1958, and with the exception of a live in caretaker it stood empty for the next six years until her son, Sir Alfred George Beech Owen, took up residence. Sir Alfred Owen left his studies at Cambridge to take over the reins of the Rubery Owen Company and showed tremendous energy at the helm of the biggest private farnily business in Britain. Besides being Chairman and Joint Managing Director of Rubery Owen and Co. Ltd. he was also on the Board of ninety nine companies and, Chairman of over eighty. On top of this he also held thirty voluntary offices in social work and twenty in church work, as well as being a lay preacher in the Anglican Church. Between 1951-52 he was Mayor of Sutton Coldfield and received his Knighthood in 1961. ln 1970 Alderman Sir Alfred Owen was made Freeman of the Borough of Sutton Coldfield, and was the last person to hold this office. Sir Alfred Owen had one other passion, racing cars and track events. He sponsored the BRM racing cars and received the Ferodo trophy as the man who had done the most for British racing in 1963.

Sir Alfred passed away on 29th October 1975, once again leaving New Hall empty save for a caretaker. He is buried with his family in Sutton Coldfield Cemetery, next to Good Hope Hospital on Rectory Road. The Rubery Owen Group spent several years looking for a use for New Hall, including offering it to the National Trust, before it was eventually put up for sale.

The Blakemore Family

Michael Blakemore, a Midland businessman, with three generations of involvement in farming and meat wholesale. New Hall Estate, listed at 135 acres in size appealed to Mr. Blakemore as much as the house itself and he purchased it in January 1982. Despite being structurally sound The Hall was in need of internal work in order to make it suitable for family occupation. As a result the building was completely rewired, the central heating modernised, the rooms redecorated and a new kitchen fitted. At the same time the whole house was recarpeted and work was done on the grounds and gardens. The estate had many other buildings, some of which were in quite a state of disrepair. Some of these outbuildings were sold off, which not only helped to ensure that they received the attention they needed, but also provided the finance for work done on the Hall. In 1985 Thistle Hotels approached Mr. Blakemore expressing interest in buying the property. Despite being initially reluctant he did agree in the end, believing that it served the best interests of the building itself, and that as a part of the towns heritage it should be made more available to the public.

New Hall Hotel

Thistle Hotels purchased New Hall and twenty six acres of surrounding land, including the most notable features of the garden in 1985 and invested substantial amounts of money restoring the buildings before opening as a country house hotel and restaurant. The emphasis was on extension rather than alteration and much of the original character was retained, a new wing, built in the style of the old, containing 48 bedrooms.

Onwards

Towards the end of 2004 negotiations began between Bridgehouse Capital Ltd. and Thistle Hotels for the removal of the five country house hotels from under the Thistle umbrella. The official handover took place in February of 2005. Since that date, the hotel again changed hands and eventually became the property of Handpicked Hotels which is where we stand at present, in 2012.

This narrative was scanned using an OCR programme copying from an official New Hall Hotel guest handout. Should there be any spelling errors, then it is the fault of the OCR software and not the hotel. You can also see the history of the surrounding countryside here on my History of the Chase & Sutton Coldfield, published in 1860 by an unknown author. This page is not yet completed as it takes a long time to copy the Victorian text into my web page. As with all history, take it with the proverbial pinch of salt, as sometimes facts become mixed with heresay and we should only read history as such, as a guidline only.

 

Falconry at New Hall

 

 

 
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Sutton Coldfield

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