History on my Doorstep – Domesday Book Halesowen

Penny W-TStarred Page By Penny W-T, 13th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2jlfdw9y/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>England>The West Midlands & The Peak District

I have lived in Halesowen all my life, with a few diversions to other places during my career, but it is the place to which I return from my travels. It is a small town with a large history that spans back millennia . . .

Origins of the Name

The original village dates back to Saxon times, at that time it belonged to an Anglo-Saxon thegn called Olwine, but the first recording of the town name is in the Domesday Book where it is referred to as Hala or Halas meaning a place with lots of hollows. Roger, Earl of Shrewsbury is recorded as owning the manor of Halas, as shown by the entry in the Domesday Book : "In Clent Hundred, Earl Roger holds of the King one Manor called Halas; it contains ten hides. . . . it is yearly worth 25s" In 1177 the Manor of Halas was gifted by King Henry II to the Welsh Prince David Owen. By 1272 it had grown to a small town and was created the Borough of Hales Owen. (Clent Hundred was in the northern part of the county of Worcestershire, and the Clent Hills are now managed by the National Trust.)

Location

Halesowen is located approximately 7 miles (11 km) south-west of Birmingham at the edge of the industrial Midlands. After the Norman Conquest it was annexed it to the County of Shropshire, and later was incorporated into Worcestershire in 1844 by legal statute.
Today the town flourishes, having gone through many developments over the last century or so from an industrial point of view. Today, however, there is very little in the form of industry and it has become more of a retail and service town. It is bordered by green belt classified land, including the Clent Hills mentioned above. It has extensive road links and is close to Junction 3 of the M5 motorway, which allow easy commuting to Birmingham, and other areas of the Black County, The centre of Birmingham is approximately 30 minutes away by car.

Norman Church and Tudor cottages

Halesowen is dominated by the parish church of St John the Baptist which dates from 1083. Some of its Norman architecture still remains, with a striking West Door . south doorway and a row of blind arching on the East Wall. However the church has been extended and altered through the centuries with a lot of examples of later architectural styles such as a Perpendicular style tower and spire, and excellent Romanesque font and also a monument to the local poet William Shenstone (owner of the Leasowes estate on the edge of the town).
It stands in splendid isolation, surrounded on three sides by the one way road system that now leads into the town centre. Have a look at the High Cross as you enter the church grounds by the main gateway.
From the East side of the church you can look down Church Road, a steep cul de sac roadway now, and view the Tudor cottages still standing there that give a wonderful insight into the Tudor history of housing in the village from those times. The cottages date from 1325.

Abbey of St Mary

The Abbey of St Mary was founded in 1215 by Premonstratensian canons under a grant from King John and was occupied by 1218. The abbey became very wealthy and owned extensive local lands. But with the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538 the Abbey lands were granted to John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.
It appears that during the Industrial Revolution much of the stonework of the Abbey was demolished and over time much of the site was destroyed. All that remains can be seen in the framework of farm buildings. What remains of the Abbey is now in the guardianship of English Heritage. Access is only available on a very limited basis, but can be seen from a distance from the roadway. There are occasionally special Open Days.

www.search.secretshropshire.org.uk – Early impressions of Halesowen Abbey ruins

Halesowen Grammar School

The original Grammar School was founded in 1652 and flourished as such until it was merged into the comprehensive Education system which was introduced in 1965, and its name changed to The Earls High School.
The School motto – Ut Filii Lucis Fiatis ("That We Shall Become Sons of Light") is likely to have been introduced prior to 1905, the date when girls were first admitted to the School
Two famous ‘Old Boys’ of the Grammar School who would be known globally, are Robert Plant of Led Zepplin fame and Bill Oddie, TV comedian and wild life expert, and whilst not famous, I am an ‘Old Girl’ of the school as well. They are both somewhat older than I am, so I don’t even have the satisfaction of being able to say I knew them ! Such is life !

Halesowen Today

Halesowen is a bright, vibrant town most of the time and the pictures give you a guided tour around most of it. This historic view of the town shows what it was like in my very young childhood, before the developers got their hands on it. But today it meets the needs of the ever-growing population from both a retail and activity based perspective.

Pubs and other places

The town has a lovely library strategically placed in the Cornbow shopping Mall, so that people can visit the library whilst doing their shopping, or sit on the balcony and watch the world go by.
The town also has a number of historic pubs, some of which are shown here, as well as the new wine bar venues that are springing up everywhere. There are also several lovely cafes around the town centre so you will be spoilt for choice as to where to rest your feet on this stroll through history with me.

Tags

Ancient Abbey, Black Country, Domesday Book, English Heritage, Halesowen, Industrial Revolution, Local History, Norman Churches

Meet the author

author avatar Penny W-T
Published articles on education themes, travel, history and writing techniques. Written a book on WW1 - Gallipoli, and travel books. Run a marketing network for small businesses.

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Comments

author avatar cnwriter..carolina
13th Jul 2013 (#)

another great descriptive piece Penny...many thanks...

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author avatar Penny W-T
13th Jul 2013 (#)

Thank you CNW. I think it is sometimes good to remind ourselves of just what is on our doorstep instead of thinking of what we might be missing.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
14th Jul 2013 (#)

Wonderful history and today...marvelous penny...thank you...:o)

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author avatar Penny W-T
14th Jul 2013 (#)

Thank you Delica.

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author avatar Eileen Ward Birch
15th Jul 2013 (#)

It is said Ettingshall belonged to Halesowen Abbey and the vicarage at Holy Trinity (long gone) was a graveyard, complete with ghosts.

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author avatar Penny W-T
15th Jul 2013 (#)

Thank you Eileen, I can add that info to my file. It is amazing what things come to light whenwe start digging

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
22nd Jul 2013 (#)

Nice!

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author avatar Retired
24th Jul 2013 (#)

Very nice post and great pictures and very historical.

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author avatar Penny W-T
26th Jul 2013 (#)

Thank you for your comments. I have been off line for a while, but will have to catch up now.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Jul 2014 (#)

Looks like you may have caught up and been gone again. I've missed your posts and comments!

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author avatar Penny W-T
13th Jul 2014 (#)

I have been ill which takes me out of the mood for writing. But now I am hoping to get back into the swing of things. Thank you for your nice comments

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