Sarehole Mill & Blakesley Hall are two historical gems tucked away in the suburbs amidst the hustle and bustle of the city and are definitely worth a visit!
Earlier this year I visited two of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) heritage sites dotted around the suburbs of the city. There are 6 sites in total including the grand Elizabethan Aston Hall (well worth a visit by candlelight) and Tolkien’s Sarehole Mill; which are probably the two most well known of the sites.
On this particular visit I went to the aforementioned Sarehole Mill in Hall Green and then dropped in to visit Blakesley Hall a short bus ride away in Yardley. My sister accompanied me and we purchased a joint annual ticket between us for £30 which gets you unlimited entry for year to all of the associated sites and museums which is well worth the price. (more details on the BMAG website http://www.bmag.org.uk/).
First stop was Sarehole Mill which was surprisingly quiet for a sunny Saturday Morning in Spring. The staff were really friendly and there was plenty of displays with information about the history and different parts of the mill.
The mill is most famous of course for being the inspiration behind ‘The Shire’ from the Lord of the Ring books by JRR Tolkien who spent his childhood living around the corner on Wake Green Road. It was built around 1750 and is apparently only one of two surviving watermills still in working order in Birmingham (the other being New Hall Mill, Sutton Coldfield).
My favourite part of Sarehole Mill was the view across the millpond at the rear which had a lovely tranquil atmosphere. Apart from the faint sound of traffic from the nearby roads you could almost forget you were in a bustling city suburb. Looking across the pond you could imagine being transported back in time to when there was nothing but rural fields and mud tracks. The reflection of the mill in the water provided some great photographs with the terracotta brick contrasting well with the blue of the sky and green from the surrounding gardens.
A short bus ride away we arrived at the grade II listed Tudor manor house Blakesley Hall. I had been here once before on a school trip years ago and it appeared so much smaller than I remembered. The manor house is partly hidden from the main road by a brick wall and hedgerow and you can just about see the first floor peeking out over the top. The house is situated in grounds which consist of a traditional herb garden and orchard which were very well kept and it has a visitor centre, café and shop.
Built in 1590 it is a beautiful black and white timber house with wattle and daub infill, a fine example of Tudor architecture which is a rarity in Birmingham. The inside has a rickety charm with uneven floorboard and sloping walls. My highlights were the Long Table in the great hall and the sloping timber floor of the long gallery on the first floor.
Considering I have lived in Birmingham for most of my life I was a little disappointed with myself that I had not taken advantage of this annual ticket offer before and would definitely recommend taking time to visit these places.
Next on the list is Soho House- photos & blog entry to follow.
So that’s my first blog entry finished, a little longer than I wanted I must admit but I’ll try not to ramble on for too long next time 😉