Let's leave Birmingham, and head over into the next borough. Solihull to be presise. On the High Street is the Manor House and nearby that is a timber framed building. Both now used as shops. Not far from there is Malvern Hall, now a school (Brueton Park open to the public). Over in Castle Bromwich is Castle Bromwich Hall, now a hotel (Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens open to the public).

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We start on the busy Solihull High Street. And head back to 15th and 16th centuries long before it was full of shops and the Touchwood Centre (built 2001).

The Manor House

It was built in 1495 by the Greswold family. Saved by public subscription in 1945. It is Grade II* listed. It had never been home to the Lords of the Manor so it isn't a manor house in the traditional sense. Greswold is also spelt Greswolde. By the 19th century it was known as Lime Tree House due to the 9 lime trees planted there in 1720. For many years it was the local doctor surgery of Ferdinand Page and his son Ericson.

The Manor House Solihull

A brewery purchsed it in 1938 with plans to turn it into a public house, but that was shelved due to the Second World War. It was the local headquarters during the war of the Home Guard. Sold in 1945, eventually used as a community, adult and social care centre. These days there is a shop on the High Street, and round the side is the Manor House Tearoom.

Manor House High Street Solihull

The Black Greyhound on the coat of arms of the borough was taken from the Greswold family.

Manor House High Street Solihull

116 - 120 High Street, Solihull

This timber framed building was built in 1571, with changes in 1845 and 1924. It is a Grade II listed building. A variety of shops have been in this building for many years now.

Timber framed building on the Solihull High Street

The Touchwood Shopping Centre opened nearby in 2001. In the late 2000s / early 2010s a shop called East was in this building. Joules has been there since at least the mid 2010s.

116-120 High Street Solihull

On the left looks like what was a coach entrance, now blocked off with a window with the shop!

116-120 High Street Solihull

Malvern Hall

The Greswold family built another property in Solihull. The Rector of Solihull, Henry Greswold bought the site of Malvern Farm in 1690 for his son Humphry Greswold. The hall passed to various members of the Greswold family until 1772 when Henry Greswold Lewis inherited the hall. When he died in 1829 it passed to a cousin who took the Greswold name. After years of neglect by 1896 it was bought by a Birmingham industrialist who reduced the house to it's present size. Horace Brueton bought it in 1915, but made few changes to the hall.  He sold it to Solihull Rural District Council in 1926, and by 1931 a school opened here. Mr Brueton also gave the parklands of the hall to the council and it was opened to the public as Brueton Park (later linked to Malvern Park).

It is now a Grade II* listed building and is part of Saint Martin's School. A girls school that started here during the Second World War started by two ladies as a boarding school. That school moved to another site in 1989 and Saint Martin's purchased the hall.

Malvern Hall

Brueton Park was formerly part of the grounds to Malvern Hall (the gardens). Horace Brueton gave the park to Solihull Council in 1944. The park was joined to the nearby Malvern Park in 1963. Walking through them both you can't really tell wehn you are leaving one park for the other! The park received Local Nature Reserve status in 2002.

Brueton Park

Brueton Park Lake. The famous artist John Constable visited Malvern Hall and the lake in the 19th century. His painting of the scene is now at Tate Britain. John Constable Malvern Hall, Warwickshire 1809. The view Constable saw is now not possible due to the line of trees separating the park from the school grounds.

Brueton Park Lake

Castle Bromwich Hall

It was built between 1557 and 1585 by Sir Edward Devereux, the first MP for Tamworth, and can be described as an Jacobean Mansion (similar to Aston Hall but much older). But was from the Elizabethan period. Sir Orlando Bridgeman bought the Hall and Gardens for his son Sir John Bridgeman I in 1657 (during the Commonwealth period). Sir John Bridgeman II inherited the hall and gardens in 1710 and made changes to the hall and gardens. The gardens were further developed over the following centuries by other members of the Bridgeman family later to become Earls of Bradford. The last member of the family to live here was Lady Ida Bridgeman who died here in 1936. During World War II it was used for storage, after that an apprentice training centre, and later used as offices by various small companies. From 2007 to 2009 it was used as a furniture showroom, before being sold again and becoming the hotel it is today.

The hall is a Grade I listed building. The Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust was formed in the 1980s to protect and preserve the gardens. The hall is now used as a hotel. And visitors can come to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. Access to the part of the garden near the hall is for guided tours only.

Castle Bromwich Hall

Seen beyond the gardens of Castle Bromwich Hall (from Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens) is the Dovecote (or the Bakehouse), a Grade I listed building dating to the late 16th century. It is now a part of the hotel.

Dovecote or Bakehouse at Castle Bromwich Hall

The Mirror Pond seen at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens. It is on the other side of the garden walls. On this side you can find an orchard, a wildflower meadow, and various other areas for nature. There is a view of Castle Bromwich Hall beyond the railings in the middle of the wall. The view is separated by the Lower Wilderness (garden area closest to the wall), and the Upper Wilderness (closer to the entrance to the gardens). You can walk up the Archery Lawn in the middle to get close to the view of the hall.

The Mirror Pond at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Photos by Elliott Brown