The Tiled House Estate

This post contains edited extracts from Kingswinford Manor and Parish, which gives full details of background sources etc.

The Tiled House Estate sat to the south of the Corbyn’s Hall estate, extending from Commonside in the east to the Standhills area in the west and Bromley Lane, the Bromley House estate and the hamlet of Bromley to the south. I speculate in KMAP that it may originally have been associated with the Corbyn’s Hall estate as part of the early enclosure of Pensnett Chase in the area. Against this is the evidence of the 1840 tithe map which gives a clear distinction between the Corbyn’s Hall estate, which was formally tithe free, and the rest of the land in the area on which tithes were levied. Whatever its origins, by the late 17th century, it was an established estate, based around the building that was known as the Tiled House – presumably because of its novel roofing material.

We first read of the Tiled House in 1688 when John Heydon made steel there using a novel process that involved the importation of Swedish Coal. Thus it seems to have been a place of industry from its earliest days. At some point in the 18th century it was occupied by Waldron Hill, father of John Hill who built the Wordsley Flint Glass House. During the latter part of the that century it was owned by the Mee family, and in 1760 Patience Mee, the widow of John Mee, leased it to Thomas Brettell. He was still in occupation in 1800. At this point the affairs of the estate become very complex, and one can do no better than quote the words of an exasperated cataloguer at Dudley Archives who writes the following in one of the most eloquent archivist entries that the author has had the pleasure to read.

A full description of the legal and equitable nightmare surrounding this estate between the 1790s and the 1840s is impossible. Many of the deeds are wanting. Suffice to say that a mother buys in the life interest of her bankrupt son and, in effect transfers it to his children, but leaves other actual and potential interests to be inherited by those grandchildren and her other children; the actual estates taken are the subject of litigation, particularly in respect of her eldest grandchild, Richard Mee like his father, who predeceases his father and leaves an infant daughter as his heir, whose husband eventually buys out most (all?) of the other interests and settles the outstanding charges on the estate. Other bankruptcies, insolvencies and imprisonments for debt just muddy the waters.

A court case of 1830 explains a little more. Patience Mee left the estate in the hands of trustees, with instructions to give her son Richard up to £50 a year from the proceeds (and no more!). The rest of the estate was to be used to provide for the education and upbringing of Richard’s three children, Richard, Sarah and John, during the life of Richard the elder. In 1830, Richard the elder was still alive, but John was the only one of the grandchildren still living, and although he was over 21, was arguing that because his father was still alive he was still entitled to support from the estate. He won his case.  Much detailed work is required to elucidate the complexities of the situation.

The Fowler maps of Kingswinford enable the boundaries of the estate to be drawn, and these are shown from the 1822 map in the figure below. There was little difference between the 1822 and 1840. Indeed, the plan produced for the unsuccessful sales of the estate in 1817 and 1825 show very similar boundaries. The particulars of the estate from the attempted sale of 1825 are included below, and illustrate the extent and nature of the property (and give an indication of how houses and lands were sold in the early 19th century.

The Tiled House Estate (purple) and Bromley Hall Estate (yellow) in 1822

In 1822 the entire estate was stilled owned by the impecunious Richard Mee, and Thomas Brettell was still in residence.  In 1833 and 1838, the elector’s lists indicate that it was occupied by John Dudley, who was a partner of the Iron Works on the Corbyn’s Hall estate. In 1840 the estate was in the hands of Trustees, Richard Mee having died some years previously. It is not clear who purchased the Tiled House Estate from the Trustees of Richard Mee, but certainly by the late 1830s William Matthews was in residence, and clearly came to own the estate at some point in the years that followed. Matthews died in 1871 and his estate passed to his son, Benjamin St John Matthews. However, William Matthews’ actual residence at the Tiled House was brief, and in the 1841 and 1851 census it is recorded as being occupied by Charles Woodcock, a Coalmaster. From sometime before 1861 till after 1891, the house was occupied by the family of William and Letticia Barlow. Barlow was a corn merchant and one of the founders of the New Connexion Chapel in Chapel St and remained an active member of that church and a Sunday School Superintendent for many years.

As with the neighbouring Corby’s Hall estate, the Tiled House estate gradually became more and more industrialised. Indeed, it would seem that both estates were operated as a unity, particularly during the ownership of William Matthews – see the earlier posts describing the Corbyn’s Hall estate, the mining activities in the area, and the development of the transport network.

The Tiled House area on the 1882 Ordnance Survey Map

The later development of the area can be seen in the large-scale Ordnance Survey maps. In 1882, what was to become Tiled House Lane was in formation, with the lane from Commonside down to the Tiled House itself being joined by Rookery Lane, now the bottom end of Tiled Hose Lane coming from Bromley. A long railway siding ran parallel to the lane on the Corbyn’s Hall side. This line had quite a fearsome gradient of 1 in 25, and it seems to me likely it was used to deliver coal to the Corbyn’s Hall works, with the trucks being lowered from the top of the incline by gravity and the empties being pulled back up by horses. The present site of Mullet Park was Tiled House Colliery Pits Number 19 and 20 (disused) and between Rookery Lane and the GWR railway line, there were Pits 17 and 18 (disused). At the top of the lane at the junction with Commonside there was a Brick Works. This being said, a number of the fields shown in the figure above were still in use for arable purposes.

The Tiled House area on the 1930 Ordnance Survey map

The situation had changed little by the time of the 1910 map, but by the time of the 1930 map shown above, the current Tiled House Estate had been built, together with the school near the Bromley end of the lane. Tiled House Colliery pits 19 and 20 had been replaced by Mullet Park, and large areas of dereliction can be seen to the north of Tiled House Lane in the Corbyn’s Hall area. This area is shown in the clip from a 1950s aerial photograph of Corbyn’s Hall shown below. This photograph is taken from over Corbyn’s Hall looking south over the upper end of Tiled House Lane, with Mullet Park in the background. The old industrial area north of Tiled House Lane is in the foreground. And here things become personal. I was brought up in Tiled House Lane in one of the houses shown in the picture, and Mullet Park and the broken ground to the north of the Lane were my childhood playgrounds. They bore little relationship to the agricultural estate of Richard Mee in the 1950s – and even less today!

Tiled House Lane in the 1950s

Transcript of Tiled House Estate Sale Particulars – 1825

TO be SOLD by AUCTION by BUNCH and JOHNSON at the Dudley’s Arms Inn, In Dudley, on Wednesday the 30th day of March, 1825, at 12o’clock at noon, in the following or such other lots as shall be agreed upon, and subject to such conditions as shall be produced at the time of sale:-

LOT 1. All that capital Messuage or Mansion House, with the malthouse, barns, stables, coach-house, granary, cowsheds and other outbuildings, fold-yard, plantations, garden and orchard thereto belonging, called the TILED HOUSE, situate in the said parish of Kingswinford and county of Stafford; together with the several closes or pieces of Land thereto adjoining, and occupied therewith, and containing the quantities following:-

House, Yards, Gardens, Orchard, Plantation and Rick-Yard5111
Upper Leasow, or Sheep Close4115
Lawn, Welling Croft and Pool813
Upper Shaw’s Field, including Road5331
Thurland’s End, including Road2339
Upper Wharrs831
The Hilly Close3039
Lower Wharrs6136

LOT 2. All those five closes of Land, adjoining together, and also adjoining the last lot, and fronting up to Bromley Lane, called by the names and containing the quantities following.

Dacey’s Hil808
Bradley’s Wharrs2223
Great Moor Field9338
Sling Hop-yard2139
Little Moor Field6225

LOT 3. A capital Meadow, adjoining the last lot, and communicating with the lane called the Greenlane, and called by the name of Moseley Meadow or Shoulder of Mutton Piece, and containing 12A. 1R. 25P.

LOT 4. A plot of Land, part of a close of land called Corbyn’s Hall Field, fronting the public highway leading from Shut End to Brockmore, containing in front 74 yards, and in the whole three roods and six perches.

LOT 5. Another plot of Land, also part of Corbyn’s Hall Field aforesaid, adjoining the last lot and fronting to the said public highway, containing in front 60 yards, and in the whole 3 roods and 18 perches.

LOT 6. Another plot of Land, also part of Corbyn’s Hall Field aforesaid, adjoining the last lot, and fronting the said public highway and also a private road leading to the Tiled House, containing in front next the said highway 38 yards, and next the said private road 80 yards, and in the whole 3 roods and 6 perches.

LOT 7. Another plot of Land, adjoin to the three last lots at the back part thereof, and also adjoining to the said private road, being other part of Corbyn’s Hall Field, containing in front, next the said private road 92 yards, and in the whole 2A. 2R. 8P. or thereabouts.

LOT 8. Another plot of LAND, part of a close called Tiled House Green, or Cox’s Croft, fronting the said private road, and containing in front 37 yards, and in the whole 2R. 23P.

LOT 9. Another plot of Land, other part of the said close called the Tiled House Green, or Cox’s Croft, also fronting the said private road, and containing also in front 37 yards, and in the whole 2R. 23P.

LOT 10. Another plot of Land, part of a close called the Upper Common Field, adjoining the last lot, and also fronting the said public highway, containing in front 67 yards, and in the whole 1A. 1R. 37P.

LOT 11. Another plot of Land, also taken out of the said Upper Common Field, adjoining the last lot, and also fronting the said public highway leading from Shut En to Brockmore, containing in front 67 yards, and in the whole 1A. 3R. 5P.

LOT 12. Another plot of Land, also taken out of the said Upper Common Field, adjoining the last lot, and fronting to the said public highway, containing in front 67 yards, and in the whole 1A. 2R. 21P.

LOT 13. Another plot of Land, adjoining the last lot, taken out of a close of land called Lower Common Field, and also fronting up to the said public highway, and also to an intended road 10 yards wide, and containing in front next to the said highway 69 yards, and next to the said intended road 94 yards, and in the whole 1A. 0R. 13P.

LOT 14. Another plot of Land, adjoining the last lot, also taken out of the said close called Lower Common Field, and fronting the said intended road, containing in front 94 yards, and in the whole 1A. 0R. 13P.

LOT 15. Another plot of Land, opposite to the last lot, also taken out of the said close called Lower Common Field, and fronting the said intended road, containing in front 72 yards and a half, and in the whole 1A. 1R. 33P.

LOT 16. Another plot of Land, adjoining the last lot, also taken out of the said close called Lower Common Field, containing in front 72 yards and a half, and in the whole 1A. 1R. 33P.

LOT 17. Two Dwelling Houses, with brewhouse, shops and gardens, fronting the said highway, and also the said private road leading to Tiled House,containing 1R. 20P. including the site of the buildings.

All the above lots are in the occupation of Thomas Brettell, Esq. of his under tenants.

The Mansion House is very roomy and commodious, and substantially built, and the out-offices and farming buildings are very extensive and convenient, and all the buildings are in good repair.

The whole of the Estate is freehold of inheritance, is in the parish of Kingswinford, and is distant about two miles from Dudley and four from Stourbridge.

Lots 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 10,11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 are staked out, and the whole may be viewed by application to Thomas Brettell, Esq. upon the premises.

Further particulars may be known by applying to Mr. Badham, Solicitor, Bromyard: to the Auctioneers, or at the office of Messrs, Bourne and Sons in Dudley, where maps of the Estate as marked out in lots may be seen.

The Corbyn’s Hall Estate

This post contains edited extracts from Kingswinford Manor and Parish, which gives full details of background sources etc.

Corbyn’s Hall in the late 19th century

The Estate up to 1780

I have described the Corbyn family in an earlier post here. They occupied a large parcel of land in the centre of the manor of Kingswinford, that may have originally been allocated by John de Sutton II, 1st Baron Sutton of Dudley, to William Corbyn on his marriage to the former’s daughter Felicia de Sutton around 1350. On this land they constructed the large house that became known as Corbyn’s Hall. The extent of these lands doesn’t become clear however until the Corbyn family sold the estate to John Hodgetts in 1680. Two early maps exist – from 1703 and 1754 which show estate boundaries very similar to those of the Fowler Map of 1822, shown in the figure below. The map shows the Kingswinford to Dudley Road running from east to west, with the junctions with Tansey Green and Commonside to the east of the area, The estate occupied a large parcel of land that extended south of the Kingswinford – Dudley Road to what was to become Tiled House Lane, and from Commonside in the east to the Standhills area in the west. It sloped quite steeply from the east down to the valley of the Dawley Brook. The brook and its feeders seem to have been landscaped into a series of pools. The land then rose again towards Standhills. The maps also give the field names from 1822. Small changes occurred in these names from the earlier maps also, with corruptions / changes creeping in as the names were passed from generation to generation – for example Mansell’s Meadow in 1704 and 1754 (then in the Corbyn’s Hall Estate) has become two fields in the Tiled House Estate in 1822 – Moreley’s Meadow and Shoulder of Mutton, the latter name being descriptive of the shape of the field. The different colours of the field indicate the two different owners of the estate in 1822 – William Hughes to the west of Dawley Brook and the Gibbons brothers to the east.

The Corbyn’s Hall estate from the 1822 Fowler Map

The Gibbons era – 1780 to 1840

The Gibbons family were originally from the Sedgley area, and developed a significant banking and industrial concern in Bristol, Kingswinford and Wolverhampton by the late 18th century, headed by the three brothers – Thomas (1730-1813), William (1732-1807) and Benjamin (1735-1832). In 1779, the family purchased the Corbyns Hall estate, which included Shut End House.  In 1814 Benjamin made over the Level furnaces and other industrial plant to his nephews – John (1777-1851), Benjamin (1783-1873) and Thomas (1787-1829) in return for an annuity and ownership of the Corbyn’s Hall Estate. The three younger Gibbons brothers were declared bankrupt as bankers in 1816, in the slump following the Napoleonic Wars, pulling the iron business down with them. Fortunately, the elder Benjamin, as a preferential creditor, was able to take control of some of the iron and coal interests and save the family firm from total ruin. The younger Gibbons brothers continued to develop the Corbyn’s Hall Collieries and Blast Furnaces, which were built by them about 1824. The Gibbons brothers were major innovators in terms of iron production, and the hydraulic lift at Corbyn’s Hall furnaces could raise around 500 tonnes of raw material a day to the top of the furnaces. The Book of Reference for the 1822 Fowler map lists Benjamin as proprietor, but many of the fields were rented to others. There is a reference to two pairs of coal pits, machine office, engine, tool house etc., in a field to the south of Shut End House. Corbyn’s Hall was occupied by Michael Grazebrook, who also leased a number of the surrounding fields.  Benjamin senior (1735-1832) occupied a house on Commonside, whilst the younger Benjamin (1783-1873) occupied Shut End House.

The elder Benjamin died in 1832. In the 1830s the Electoral Registers indicate that the younger Benjamin and brother John were living at Corbyn’s Hall. In 1833 Shut End House was occupied by Henry Bradley, the business partner of James Foster of Shut End.  In 1838 much of the estate was leased to William Mathews and John Dudley, ironmasters, for a period of 63 years to 1901. Benjamin however continued to live in Corbyn’s Hall and is recorded as being there in the Book of Reference for the 1840 Fowlers Map and the 1841 census. The 1840 Fowler map shows considerable changes to the estate, with the Stourbridge Extension Canal dividing it in two, with a branch from the canal serving the Corbyn’s Hall furnaces. That Book of Reference indicates that by then, whist the estate was still owned by the Gibbons, it was almost fully leased to Matthews, Dudley and Co. The Corbyn’s Hall furnaces are listed, as are three coal plus three (iron) stone pits etc., and the mines to the south of Shut End House are also referred to.  A William Gibbons, Benjamin and John’s cousin, is recorded as living at Shut End House. A portrait of Benjamin from the 1860s is shown below.

Benjamin Gibbons (1783-1873) in the 1860s (National Portrait Gallery)

During the Gibbons time at Corbyn’s Hall, there were major developments in the transport infrastructure in the area.  The figure below shows three large scale scale maps of the region, that show the transport links on the 1822 Fowler map, the 1832 Ordnance survey map (the original of which was at 1 inch to the mile) and the 1840 Fowler map. In 1822 this area was ill-served by transport links, and industry was clustered around the Stourbridge Canal main line and its Fens Branch and thus to improve the accessibility of this area, Lord Dudley and James Foster of Foster Rastrick and Co. opened the Kingswinford Railway in 1829. This ran from a new basin at Ashwood on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal, up a 1:28 incline to a level section from the top of the incline to just north of Kingswinford village. From there it ran up another inclined plane with a gradient of 1:29, known as Foster’s incline (A) to a final level stretch in the Corbyn’s Hall area (B). The railway carried coal traffic from a number of mines along its route, and pig iron and iron products from the works of John Bradley and Co. (owned by James Foster) at Shut End (C). It also probably carried limestone from outside the area to the works. It is perhaps best known for its main means of motive power – the locomotive Agenoria, which was built by Foster Rastrick.  A fuller discussion of coal mining activity in the area is given in another post here.

There can also be seen to be an extensive series of tramways in the area, almost certainly worked by horse-power, man-power and, where possible, gravity. The major tramway ran from north of the Kingswinford Railway (D), which it seems to have predated as the latter crossed it via a bridge, through Corbyn’s Hall Iron Works (E), where there were a number of loops and branches, and then on through Bromley to a wharf on the Fens Branch of the Stourbridge Canal (F). This tramway was owned by the Gibbons and was used to take coal and iron from their mines and works on the Corbyn’s Hall estates. This involved some sizeable cuttings to keep its gradient constant and a tunnel beneath what is now Bromley High Street. The second tramway ran from the top of Foster’s incline (G) into the Shut End works (C) (see below), whilst a third ran from Lord Dudley’s mines in Shut End (H) to another wharf on the Fens branch (I). Finally, there was a shorter tramway from south of Bromley (J) to a third wharf on the Fens branch, some way to the west of the others (K).

By 1840 the Stourbridge Extension Canal had been built in close association with the Stourbridge Canal Company – indeed half of the members of the Extension Canal Committee were also on the corresponding committee of the Stourbridge Canal. The major shareholder were Sir Stephen Glynne, resident in north Wales and the owner of Oak Farm Iron and Brick works, James Foster, owner of the Shut End works and Francis Rufford, a clay merchant. The canal ran from a junction on the Fens branch to Oak Farm, just off the top of the map of Figure 3.2c where it served the Oak Farm works and the Shut End works.  There was a short branch into Corbyn’s Hall (L) that removed the need for the tramway system. Indeed, the main tramway, from Corbyn’s Hall to Bromley, was purchased by the Extension Canal Company under the terms of the Extension Canal Act. As far as can be ascertained from the 1840 map, this tramway was by then in a fragmentary state (M), although the long stretch through Bromley to the Fens branch still existed. The other tramways outlined above were also still in existence, with some extra branches and quite possibly some route changes. It can thus be seen that, even within the two decades between the Fowler maps a complex tramway system was developed and discarded in the Corbyn’s Hall estate. Without the use of the interim 1832 OS map, this would not have been picked out.  Another Extension canal branch left the main line and ran to the Standhills House area (N). In the 1840 Reference this is referred to as the new branch and there is no evidence for industry in this region in 1840. It seems likely that this branch was built as a precursor to the opening of mines in the area.

Development of Canals, Railways and Tramways in the Shut End and Bromley areas

William Matthews

As noted above, from 1838 much of the land and the industrial concerns at Corbyn’s Hall had been leased to William Mathews and John Dudley, ironmasters, for a period of 63 years to 1901. William Matthews was born in Hagley in 1796 and in his obituary from 1871 we read the following.

He acquired a minute knowledge of all the practical details and the successive improvements in the manufacture of pig, iron from the South Staffordshire ores, as well as a very extensive acquaintance with everything relating to the iron and coal trades of that district; and was constantly consulted upon all matters affecting these interests. He took an active part in the promotion of various railways in the district, especially the Oxford Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway, of which as well as of the South Wales Railway he was a director..

In 1860 he read a paper to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on the South Staffordshire Coalfield, with particular reference to Corbyn’s Hall. It is clear from that paper, that he was much more than a simple entrepreneur, but rather he possessed deep knowledge of the nature of the coalfield and the working methods – and was able to write about them fluently and lucidly. A copy of one of the figures from that paper, showing the fractured nature of the seams below Corbyn’s Hall, is given below, and gives some indication of the difficulties that would have been involved in extracting the coal.

Section through Corbyn’s Hall showing coal seams from Matthews(1860)

In 1842, Matthews and Dudley seem to have bought at least part of the Estate themselves for a sum of £9995. The Matthews / Dudley partnership was dissolved by mutual agreement in 1846, and the estate passed fully into the hands of William Matthews. John Dudley (1807-1861) was a member of the Tipton Dudley family. He was a grandson of Thomas Dudley who was the last resident of Shut End Hall. It seems that he emigrated to New Zealand and the breakup of the partnership with Matthews night have been to facilitate this move.

From then on, for the next 50 years, the lease of the Corbyn’s Hall estate was held by a number of industrialists. These are given in outline in the  Table below – taken from Graces Guide for Corbyn’s Hall. The plan with the lease of 1847 is interesting in that it shows the land that has been spoiled by industrial activities – and indicates that any holder of the lease would be required to make it good. These intentions never seem to have been acted on.  The regularity with which the lease changed hands would suggest an inherent lack of profitability. 

The most notable event to occur during that period was the major boiler explosion in 1862. The Chelmsford Chronicle gives the following account.

A fearful boiler explosion occurred at about six o’clock on the 27th ult. at the Corbyn’s Hall Malleable Iron Works (Messrs. Blackwell and Sparrow), situated about two miles from Dudley, which resulted in the death of four men and serious injuries to about ten others. The exploded boiler was about 30 horsepower and was heated by the flues of the puddling furnaces. At six o’clock number of men were at work in the puddling furnaces, when a fearful explosion took place. The roof of the furnaces was immediately broken through by a mass of falling debris, and the whole place presented a scene of wreck. The bodies of four men were speedily found in the debris, all of them being employed at the works. Ten or twelve others were found to be seriously injured, some of them so seriously that no hopes are entertained of their recovery. The cause of the explosion at present remains a mystery.

The inquest revealed that the boiler had run out of water before the explosion. Those who died were Thomas and George Hudley, Daniel Mason and Ezekiel Newnman (puddlers), Joseph Harper (a fireman) and Morris Christopher, a labourer. The person in charge, Mark Simpson, was absent from the building when the accident occurred, which seems to have not been an unusual occurrence.  He was duly charged by the coroner with manslaughter and tried at Stafford Assizes, but the charges could not be proved, and the judge ordered the jury to acquit him.

1847Lease by William Mathews of Edgbaston esquire to William Malins of Mansion House Place, London and George and Charles Rawlinson of Newton Nottage, Glamorgan, iron and coalmasters, of the Corbyn’s Hall estate, 4 blast furnaces with foundaries, casting houses and related buildings (with specified reservations), and thick coal/ten yard coal, heathen coal and brooch coal, and ironstone, etc., etc. plus other adjacent lands and minerals (specified), for a term of 56 years
1849Corbyn’s Hall and Tiled House estates offered for lease (to 1901 and 1863)
1853Lease to Samuel Holden Blackwell of Dudley of a mill, forge and premises
1853Lease by the Trustees of the will of William Hughes of Kingswinford, gentleman, to William Mathews of Edgbaston and George Hickman Bond of Tiled House, parish of Kingswinford, coalmasters and co-partners, of coal and ironstone under the Ketley Estate for a term of 14 years
1862Lease of mill and forge to Henry Sparrow of Woodfield House, Wordsley for 6 years
1867Lease to Paul Robinson of Sedgley, Staffs., coalmaster, Gabriel Jones of Kingswinford, coalmaster, George Glaze of Brockmoor, parish of Kingswinford, ironfounder & Daniel Parsons of Pensnett, same parish, engineer, of mines under Tiled House Estate
1868Agreement with Samuel Hingley of Cradley, Staffs., ironmaster for an annual tenancy of the Corbyn’s Hall Estate, with plan and detailed schedule of buildings, fixtures and machinery
1869Agreement with Hingley for renting number 1 Blast Furnace
1870Lease to Hingley of ironworks at Corbyn’s Hall for 7 years
1872Lease to Benjamin Williams, Benjamin Williams the younger and George Williams, all of Kingswinford, iron manufacturers, of the ironworks at Corbyn’s Hall, for 7 years
1903Sale to Caleb William Roberts of Stourbridge, Worcs., colliery proprietor, of the Tiled House and Common Side Estates, parish of Kingswinford and mines under 97a of land there

Leases of Corbyn’s Hall and associated estates

The Corbyn’s Hall Iron Works.

GWR and Pensnett Railways are indicated by black and brown lines respectively, and the Corbyn’s Hall railway by purple lines. Old mine shafts are shown as open circles, and the major residential properties as filled triangles.

By the time of the next major mapping of the area for the 1882 Ordnace Survey map, Corbyn’s Hall had an internal railway network for the transportation of coal and iron products to and from the canals and other railways that surrounded it. The situation in 1882 is shown in the figure below. It can be seen that there are two iron works. The original one was to the east of the Canal, near to Corbyn’s Hall itself, and is marked on the 1882 map as disused, but was clearly still in situ.  The new works was to the west of the canal, so we probably here have a picture of the transitional situation. The map also shows the major residential properties of Corbyn’s Hall itself, by this time becoming increasingly derelict; the Tiled House and Shut End House. Many disused collieries can also be seen, from where the original raw material was obtained in the 1820s and 1830s. The Corbyn’s Hall railway itself is a complex set of interlinked lines serving the immediate needs of the old works and providing connections to the Corbyn’s Hall branch of the Stourbridge Extension canal and the GWR Kingswinford Branch. The Tiled House branch of the Pensnett Railway (in brown) can be seen in the bottom right of the figure, ending in a set of sidings. The gradient of this branch is severe, at about 1 in 25, and there is no indication of an engine house anywhere that could provide motive power for hauling full trucks up the branch. It thus seems sensible to regard this branch as being to supply the needs of the Iron Works for coal and ironstone, rather than taking away finished products, with trucks descending the branch by gravity (but with brakes!) and empty trucks being hauled up the branch by horses. It can also be seen that the Corbyn’s Hall railway provides a somewhat convoluted connection between the Pensnett Railway and the GWR in this region.

After the estate was leased by Matthews and Dudley, both the 1840 Fowler Directory and 1841 census indicates that Benjamin Gibbons continued to live at Corbyn’s Hall and his cousin William and his family in Shut End House .  By 1851, the situation had reversed with Benjamin living at Shut End House with a solitary housekeeper, and William’s widow and family living in Corbyn’s Hall itself. By 1861, Shut End House only has a housekeeper present and Benjamin is living near Stourport. He was later to move to the Leasows in Birmingham and then to Halesowen where he died in 1873. 

After the Gibbons moved out, Corbyn’s Hall then found a variety of uses. In 1861 it was occupied by M. H de Summercourt (originally from Paris) and his family, the Manager of the Ironworks. By that time a considerable community, presumably of estate workers had come into existence around Corbyn’s Hall, and the new Corbyn’s Hall St and Corbyn’s Hall Lane are recorded in the census. In 1871 the occupation is not clear, as the hall was not specifically identified in the census returns. In 1881 there was again record of a community of sorts around the Hall with a set of houses called Corbyn’s Hall cottages, and the offices of the old Corbyn’s Hall Ironworks (to the east of the canal) were also used as a family residence. Corbyn’s Hall itself was occupied by the families of John Wilkinson, a timber merchant, and David Greenway, a coalminer. In 1891, it seems to have been subdivided still further. Corbyn’s Hall cottages still existed, but there was also a Corbyn’s Hall Villa and an Old Corbyn’s Hall.  John Wilkinson and his extended family and servants lived in Old Corbyn’s Hall, whilst at Corbyn’s Hall villa we find Thomas Brown and his family, an Inland Revenue Officer. There thus seems to have been an effort to make as much accommodation as possible, with the old house now providing for the local professional class. Around this time the house became increasingly derelict (see the picture at the top of the post) and was eventually demolished in the early twentieth century.

In the twentieth century, the Corbyn’s Hall area retained some industrial activity (as indeed it does to this day) but became largely residential in nature. A discussion of some aerial photographs of the area taken in the 1950s, is given in another post.

The Black Country pictures of John Louis Petit


The landscape artist and architectural critic John Louis Petit (1802-1868) painted a small number of scenes of Black Country activity during his career. In this post I look at two of them, one depicting mines at Wolverhampton, and the other the Spring Vale Furnaces at Bilston. I do not consider their artistic merits – indeed I would be quite incapable of doing so – but rather I will discuss the scenes the paintings portray and the locations from which they might have been painted.

Mines at Wolverhampton

The picture Mines at Wolverhampton is shown above and is reproduced by permission of the Petit Society. On the Petit Society website, it is captioned

c1830-35, 15x20cm, watercolour on paper, private collection.

The main feature of the painting is the pair of pits showing the scaffoldings of the “Rattle Chain”. This is a very early representation of such mechanisms. The nature of the structure between the scaffoldings is not clear but could perhaps be some sort of furnace or processing plant. The grim reality of the destruction of the surrounding countryside by spoil from the mines is also very apparent in the foreground. The figures of two mine workers wearing brimmed hats can also be seen. Nothing by way of safety equipment was provided and there were may injuries and deaths, which were simply regarded as part of the costs of the operation.

In the background there are two churches shown, one with a tower and one with a spire. It is from these churches that I guess the painting finds its title, because at first sight they would seem to show the Wolverhampton churches of  St. Peter’s to the left with the tower, and St. John’s to the right with the spire. The former was a favourite subject of Petit. However, this placing of the churches suggest that the scene was painted from the west of Wolverhampton, as St. Peter’s is to the north of St. John’s. This however is not possible, as there were simply no mines in this region – indeed the boundary of the south Staffordshire coal field is to the east of the town – see the picture below from the Coal Authority website that shows mine openings in the Wolverhampton area.  Indeed, if the picture does show Wolverhampton, it is painted from either the south east or the east, and there are no church pairs that match from that direction. We are left with two possibilities – either the artist added the church towers to a scene painted from elsewhere to contrast the old and the new (which of course as a painter he was perfectly at liberty to do), or the painting depicts a scene from elsewhere. In terms of other locations, I can find only one other location in the vicinity from which a church tower and spire could be observed – somewhere to the west of Dudley where St. Edmund’s and St. Thomas’s churches are so aligned. This would give a location for the pits somewhere in the Gornal area, which would be quite possible, being close to Petit’s Ettingshall Park estate. However, if this were the location, one would have expected Petit to have skewed the scene slightly to show Dudley Castle, which would be just off the left of the current picture. There may however be alternative possibilities that I have not identified in the Wolverhampton area.  Reader’s thoughts would be very welcome.

Mine openings around Wolverhampton – From Coal Authority website

Springvale Ironworks, Bilston

This picture appears in the book “Petit’s Tours of Old Staffordshire” and is again reproduced with permission of the Petit Society. It is believed to have been painted in 1852 or 1853 and to depict the Springvale Ironworks at Bilston to the south of Wolverhampton. It clearly shows a number of blast furnaces and other industrial buildings. In the foreground there is the depiction of a small housing settlement. The land here is greener than in the Wolverhampton painting, but still broken, looking as if it had been used for some extraction activity. The horses walking along the foreground track again give the contract between the old and the new. In the background we can see the chimneys of the Black County and perhaps, just to the left of the furnaces, a depiction of a church tower.

After some investigation, I am led to the conclusion that the painting does indeed show the Springvale works, although there is perhaps another possibility I will consider below.  In my view the painting is clearly looking east – there are too many chimneys etc in the background for a westerly view which would look out over more open country. There are two detailed maps of the area available for the relevant period – the Tithe Allocation maps of Sedgley and Bilston of 1845, and the large-scale Ordnance Survey map of 1882. Sketches prepared from both these maps are shown below. The track running north to south on the left of the sketches is the current Spring Road, and that running across the top of the sketch is the current Millfields Road. The church shown is the original Holy Trinity, not the current building. The painting shows what is referred to as the left hand “Iron Works etc” on the 1845 map and “Spring Vale Furnaces” on the 1882 map. The building in front of the furnaces is Spring Vale Iron Works on the 1845 map and Spring Vale Foundry on the 1882 maps. The maps only show the ground plan of what was in existence at the time they were produced, so the details of the furnaces and other buildings cannot be seen. Also of course all the buildings, with the exception of the furnaces, were ephemeral in nature and would be regularly modified and replaced. The canals and railways that can be seen on the maps are not visible on the painting – they would have been low lying and obscured by the topography. Most ironworks in this region were situated close to the canal which was used for both bring in raw materials and taking out finished products.

From 1845 Tithe allocation maps – blue indicates canals; brown roads or tracks
From 1882 Ordnance Survey map – blue indicates canals; brown roads or tracks

The position from which the picture is painted can be more precisely defined. A sketch from the 1845 map showing a wider area,  is shown below and indicates the likely position – at the road junction to the top left, where the name (presumably of a pub) is given as the Fighting Cocks. This is at the junction of the current Parkfield Road with the Dudley / Wolverhampton  Road. The 1845 map indicates a cluster of housing at this point. Interestingly the1882 map shows the latter road is the course of a tramway, and this might also be the case for the 1845 map, although tramways and roads are not always distinguished on these maps. If this were the case then the horses in the foregrounnd might be pulling wagons along the tramway. The ground also dips from this site towards the site of the ironworks as in the painting, although it is difficult to compare modern topography with that from the 1850s as most of the land is “made ground” of one sort or another. The painting position sits just outside John Louis Petit’s Ettingshall estate, although he did not live there, so one can conjecture that the picture was painted on a trip to the estate to conduct whatever estate business was required with his agent and tenants.

From 1882 Ordnance Survey map – blue indicates canals; brown roads or tracks; black dotted line – from painting position to furnaces

As noted above, there seems to be a church tower in the background, although this is far from clear. If this indeed is the case, then this depicts St. Bartholomew’s at Wednesbury. This church has a tower and a short spire, which was even shorter in 1853. Perhaps just a hint of this spire can be seen in the picture. The position of the church in the picture does however give confidence in the deductions of the painting position as the alignment is very much as expected given the position of painting.

As mentioned above, there is however another possibility for what the picture shows. It is possible that it depicts the Parkfield Furnaces, shown on the maps above. The reasons for thinking that this might be the case  are firstly that one might expect these furnaces to be shown on the left of the picture if the painting position is as suggested, secondly that on the 1882 map there is a long building in front of the furnaces that could be that shown on the painting, whereas no such buildings are shown the vicinity of the Spring Vale Furnaces on either map. Against this suggestion is the fact that the Parkfield Furnaces do not seem, from the maps, to have been on the same scale as those at Spring Vale. On balance my feeling remains that the picture displays the Spring Vale Furnaces.

The Ettingshall Park Estate of John Louis Petit

I have shown in an earlier post that the painter and architectural critic John Louis Petit (1802-1868) was a major landholder in the West Midlands in the nineteenth century. In this post I want to discuss in a little more detail what was perhaps the major estate that he  owned – the Ettingshall Park estate in Sedgley, to the south of Wolverhampton.

The extent of the lands owned by Petit in Ettingshall in the 1840s are shown on the map below. The estate boundaries are taken from the Tithe Allocations and are superimposed upon the 1882 Ordnance Survey map of the area. The estate was in the north of Sedgley parish, just south of the Wolverhampton boundary and the holding was 413 acres in total. It is centred on Ettingshall Park farm and lies west of another large estate – that of Ettingshall Hall. Note that part of the northern boundary is shown as a dotted line, as it is hard to locate the precise boundary on the 1882 map because of variations in the topography due to mining.

The Ettingshall Park estate. (The lands owned by John Louis Petit in the 1840s are outlined in red, and those owned by Louis Hayes Petit in green. Black triangles – collieries; red triangles – ironstone pits; green triangles – lime works; purple squares – iron works; blue circle – Sedgley Beacon

We first read of Ettingshall Park in 1581 when it was amongst the lands restored to Edward Sutton, 4th Baron Dudley, by Queen Elizabeth following the downfall of John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland who had taken over the estates through some morally dubious financial interactions with Edward’s father John Sutton, the third Baron. The fifth Baron, another Edward, sold the Estate to Charles Cornewallys of Norwich in 1597, and by 1604 it was either occupied or owned by one Thomas Marsh, styled as a gentleman. At sometime in the next century the Estate passed to the Hayes family. John Hayes appears to have been the Steward of the Dudley estate in the 1710s and 1720s and is referred to in various documents as being from Wolverhampton, and again styled as a gentleman. His son, another John, was in 1733 at the Junior Temple in London. John Hayes the elder died in 1736, and left Ettingshall to John the younger. This John himself died in 1745 and the estate went to his sisters. One of these sisters, Sarah was by then married to John Peter Petit, the second English generation of the Petits, and living at Little Aston.   It then passed down the Petit family, as is described elsewhere. The Petits did not occupy it however, and it was leased to others – in the early years of the nineteenth century to Dudley Bagley, from 1808 around 1820 to Samuel Fereday, Ironmaster, and then to his son Dudley Fereday up to the late 1850s.

From at least the end of the seventeenth century, Ettinghsall Hall was occupied by the Homers, who exploited the estate for its coal reserves. By 1780, the mining works had encroached up the estate to such an extent that it was no longer fit to be a gentleman’s residence, so Richard Homer sold it and moved to Bromley House in Kingswinford, which they also exploited and eventually reduced to colliery waste. The Gibbons family of iron and coal masters were also near neighbours in the eighteenth century.

But now let us return to the map of the estate shown above. In the 1840s it formed a coherent block of land surrounding Ettingshall Park that was owned by John Louis Petit. A small block at the south of the estate was owned by his uncle and former MP, Louis Hayes Petit. Most of the land, even at that stage was arable or pasture. There were a small number of collieries to the north west, and two lime workings at Round Hill and Beacon Hill. However just beyond the estate heavy industry was beginning to encroach, with the Spring Vale Ironworks to the north east and the Parkfields iron works to the north. The former was served by basins from the Birmingham Canal (as indeed were most ironworks in the area). The underlying 1882 Ordnance Survey map shows a similar situation in the south of the estates, with most of the field boundaries being identical to those on the tithe map, but in the north mining activities have completely eliminated the fields (and indeed makes the estate boundary difficult to determine) and indeed many of the roads shown on the tithe map. In effect the area of mining in the 1880s came right to the edge of the South Staffordshire Coal Field.

Although John Louis owned the land, he leased it to others. The central area around Ettinghsall Park Farm was leased to Dudley Fereday as noted above, with smaller agricultural plots leased to Edwin Dixon, William Fletcher and Edward Jay. The mines and pits were operated by George Jones, John Neve and Coo, or the Parkfields Company who operated the nearby ironworks. Essentially we see here, as in so many places in the western Black Country at this time, the transition from a farming to an industrialised way of life.

As noted above Louis Hayes Petit owned some land to the south of the Ettingshall estate. This encompassed the highest point in the locality at Beacon Hill. It was on this hill in 1846 that the Beacon Tower was erected, which still stands if in a somewhat dilapidated state. The Sedgley Local History society attributes the building of this tower to “a local landowner, Mt Petit”, although it might have been used for astronomical observations by Lord Wrottesley a well-known Staffordshire amateur astronomer. Whether this was John Louis or Louis Hayes is not clear, but perhaps we have here the architectural critic dabbling in architecture himself, if only in the construction of what can probably fairly be described as a folly.

Sedgley Beacon

John Louis Petit – painter and landholder


John Louis Petit was a noted landscape painter and critic of ecclesiastical architectural practice in the 19th century. After his death, his work languished in obscurity for many years, but has recently been brought to public attention by the J L Petit Society and is well described on the website of that organisation and elsewhere. He and his sisters painted several hundred pictures of landscapes and churches across England, Europe and beyond. He was able to do so because he was from a wealthy family, descended from Huguenot immigrants to England in 1685. Concerning that wealth the Petit society web site simply says “Petit’s family were moderately wealthy landowners, active in professions, from Staffordshire“. The question then arises as to where the wealth came from that enabled him to pursue his interests through extensive and no doubt expensive, travel, This post unpacks the source and extent of his wealth in a little more depth and leads me to the conclusion that the Petit family were much more than simply “moderately wealthy”. It will be seen that the main source of this wealth seems to have been an estate in the Sedgley / Wolverhampton area, and I will investigate this estate further in a future post.

To help the reader in navigating the travels of the Petit family around the Midlands, the map below shows the places mentioned in this post that are in the vicinity of Wolverhampton.

Places named in the text in the vicinity of Wolverhampton

The Petits in England

We begin by considering the first of the Petit family to arrive in England. Lewis Petit (1665-1720), a member of the ancient Norman family of Petit des Etans, fled to England from Caen on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, along with many thousands of others. The revocation of this edict led to severe persecution of the protestant Huguenots by Catholics, and many fled the country at that time. He served in the British army as an engineer, rose to the rank of brigadier-general and was appointed lieutenant-governor of Minorca from 1708 to 1713. He was later involved in the suppression of a revolt by Highland clans. More detail can be found in his Wikipedia entry. No doubt he was well rewarded for his services. He had two sons, John Peter Petit and Captain Peter Petit. The former married Sarah, daughter of John Hayes of Wolverhampton, the owner of the Ettingshall Estate near Sedgley, and they occupied the manor of Little Aston from 1743 to the early 1760s. John Hayes died in 1736, and left Ettingshall to his son, another John. This John himself died in 1745 and the estate went to Sarah and her sister, and thus ultimately to John Peter Petit. Ettingshall was a large, originally arable estate, that even at that stage was beginning to be exploited for its coal and ironstone reserves. John Peter also appears to have owned Saredon Hall farm in the village of Shareshill.

John Peter and Sarah’s only son, John Lewis Petit (1736-1780) was educated at Queens College, Cambridge, qualified as a doctor in 1767 and was physician to St. George’s Hospital from 1770 to 1774, and to St. Bartholomew’s from 1774 until his death. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society from 1759 and was clearly regarded as a leader in his profession. He married Katherine Laetitia Serces, the daughter of Rev. James Serces, pastor of the French Church in London. They had three sons John Hayes Petit (1771-1822), Peter Hayes Petit (1773-1809) and Louis Hayes Petit (1774-1849), but clearly lacked imagination in the giving of names. The Ettingshall Estate was inherited in its entirety by John Hayes, with financial provision being made for the other sons. In John Lewis’ will there is the following rather interesting provision.

I desire my body may be opened [for medical science] if the distemper of which I may die shall not have rendered it so loathsome as to endanger the operator and that the sum of ten guineas shall be given to the person who shall perform the operation.

Of the two younger brothers, Peter Hayes was a lieutenant-colonel of the 35th Foot and died at Deal of a wound received at Flushing in Holland during the Napoleonic war. Louis Hayes became a barrister and, from 1827 to 1832, was MP for Ripon. He bought property at Yeading, Middlesex, and a house in Tamworth Street, Lichfield. He also acquired an estate at Merridale in Wolverhampton, not far from Ettingshall, which the sources suggest provided him with income from mineral rights. This cannot however be wholly true as Merridale is to the west of Wolverhampton, and is not in fact on the coal field. It will be seen below that he also possessed land to the east of the town at Bilston, on which there were indeed coal mines, and this was probably the source oft he confusion. After ceasing to be an MP, his remaining years were largely devoted to literary and philanthropic pursuits There is a monument to him at the east end of the north aisle of St Michael’s church in Lichfield.

The Ecclesiastical Petits – John Louis and his father

The eldest of the three brothers, John Hayes Petit (1771-1822) inherited the Ettingshall estate, but also seems to have followed an ecclesiastical career. He was born in Bloomsbury and graduated from Queens College Cambridge with a BA in 1793 and an MA in 1796. He was ordained priest in Chester in 1798 and served a curacy at Ashton under Lyme near Stalybridge in Cheshire.  During his time there he married Harriet Astley of the nearby town of Dukinfield. Harriet was born in 1779 to the painter John Astley (1724-1787) and his third wife Mary Wagstaffe (1760-1832). John Astley had a colourful life, painting portraits of many 18th century notables, arousing strong passions of admiration (mainly in women) or distaste (mainly in men). His first wife was an unknown Irish lady who died in 1749. The second was Penelope Dukinfield Daniel (1722–1762) widow of Sir William Dukinfield Daniel, 3rd baronet, and a daughter of Henry Vernon, former High Sheriff of Staffordshire. John and Penelope were married with some rapidity after she intimated that the original of the portrait he was painting of her would be available if he wished. On Penelope’s death, and the death of his stepdaughter, Astley inherited the substantial Dukinfield and Daniel estates in Cheshire and was able to lead a life of some luxury and idleness thereafter.  Harriett was one of three sisters, known as the Manchester beauties, and her marriage to John Hayes would have brought him both a beautiful wife and a substantial supplement to his already considerable income. 

John Louis Petit, the artist, was John Hayes and Harriet’s eldest son and was born in 1802. For the next few years the family lived a somewhat peripatetic existence. The oldest sister, Harriet Letticia Petit (later Salt) was baptised in Stretton on Dunmore in Warwickshire in 1803. The next two children Mary Ann Petit (1805-) and Peter John Petit (1806-1852), later a Lieutenant Colonel in the 50th Regiment, were baptised at Darfield in Yorkshire. No reason for the Petit family’s presence in these places can be traced. The next two children, Emma Gentile Petit (1808-1893) and Elizabeth Petit (later Haig) (1810-1895) were baptised at Donnington in Shropshire to the north west of Wolverhampton. In January 1811 John Hayes was appointed Stipendary Curate of that parish, and then in February of that year he was appointed as a Perpetual Curate at Shareshill, to the north east of Wolverhampton where he already owned land.  How these posts interacted with each other is not clear. The Vernon family, from whom Harriet was descended, owned Hilton Hall, which was close to Shareshill, and may have been influential in John Hayes obtaining the post.  He held the Perpetual Curacy at Shareshill till his death in 1822. Their next three children were all baptised in Shareshill – Louisa Petit (1813-1842), who died after a “life of uninterrupted suffering, which she bore with a true Christian patience and cheerfulness”; Susannah Petit (1813-1897); and Louis Peter Petit (1816-1838) a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn. Around 1817 John Hayes leased Coton Hall at Alveley in Shropshire from Harry Lancelot Lee, and it was there that their final child, Maria Katherine (later Jelf) (1818-1904) was baptised. Coton Hall was a very substantial property that once belonged to the Lee family. In 1636, Richard Henry Lee emigrated to the US, and the family became rich through the ownership of tobacco plantations with a large slave population, and from whom the US Confederate General Robert E Lee was descended. It would not have been a cheap place to lease. After John Hayes Petit’s death in 1822, Coton Hall was bought by James Foster (1786 -1853), the very successful and wealthy ironmaster and coalmaster of Stourbridge.  John Hayes’ wife Harriet and her unmarried daughters moved to the house in the house in Tamworth St, Lichfield that was owned by her brother-in-law Louis Hayes Petit.

John Louis Petit inherited the Ettingshall estate on the death of his father in 1822, and also inherited the bulk of the estate of his uncle Louis Hayes Petit when the latter died in 1849. In total they formed a very substantial estate in the Wolverhampton area, that was being heavily exploited for coal, iron ore and limestone. He and his sisters also had a less tangible inheritance from his mother and his grandfather – the passion and the ability for painting and sketching. After he graduated from Trinity College in Cambridge in 1825, John firstly pursued an ecclesiastical career being curate at St Michael’s in Lichfield from 1825 to 1828, under the Perpetual Curate Edward Remington, and then curate at Bradfield and Mistley in Essex from 1828 to 1834. During his time at St. Michael’s, the registers tell us he carried out 61 baptisms, 35 weddings and 163 funerals, as well as presumably leading the Sunday worship – a not inconsiderable load. He married Louisa Reid, the daughter of George Reid of Trelawny in Jamaica in 1828. The Reid family derived much of their wealth from slave plantations in Jamaica and the family received considerable compensation for their lost income when slavery was abolished in the 1830s.

The Petit estates in the 1840s

But that is not the end of the matter. Details of the holdings of John Louis and Louis Hayes at the time of the tithe apportionments in the 1840s can be obtained from the tithe maps for Staffordshire. These are shown in the table below. It can be seen that the estates around Ettingshall and Wolverhampton were far from all their holdings. John Louis also held land in Wolverhampton itself, and in Hilton and Featherstone in the north of the town, and in Shareshill, Hatherton and Acton Trussell further to the north. At the time he lived in a house at Shifnal in Shropshire. Louis Hayes, as well as the land in Wolverhanpton also had holdings in the vicinity of the town at Sedgley and Bilston, as well as at Bushbury and Hatherton to the north. He also held the property in Lichfield where Harriet and her daughters lived. A photograph of this rather imposing property, Redcourt House, is shown below. It was situated on Tamworth Street downhill from the junction with George Lane, and its grounds extended a considerable distance behind it between what was then Back Lane and Frog Lane. In total John Louis held nearly 1100 acres and Louis Hayes nearly 450. This would have put them amongst the major landowners in the Midlands. Whilst the lands around Wolverhampton and Sedgley can be explained as an expansion of the Ettingshall and Merridale estates and the family had held land in Shareshill for several generations, there is no obvious reason why the lands at Bushbury, Hatherton and Acton Trussell came into their possession. One possible reason might be that these were holdings of Penelope Dukinfield Daniel through her descent from the Vernon family who held land in that part of Staffordshire. This might explain why John Hayes and Harriet made their home at Shareshill and the former became the Perpetual Curate in the parish.

Petit land holdings in Staffordshire in the 1840s. Numbers indicate the area in acres
Redcourt House

But there is yet more. In Staffordshire Archives, there is an index record that states ” Abstract of title of late John Louis Petit in Staffordshire and Hereford, Radnor and Brecknock “. It would appear that the property in Hereford was the estate of Bollitree Castle, a large house with mock fortifications, with Louis Hayes owned at the time of his death. I have not been able to identify any properties in Radnor and Brecknock.


So to return to my original query, it would seem that the Petit wealth derived in the main from a series of very advantageous marriages – and in particular those between John Peter Petit and Sarah Hayes, which brought the Ettingshall estate into their positions. This estate will be the subject of a further blog post. In addition the family were clearly successful in the professions in which they worked as a result of their very considerable talents. One point that I still find difficult to understand is why John Hayes and John Louis pursued ecclesiastical careers – the clergy stipends were almost certainly of little significance in terms of their overall wealth. Perhaps the holding of a clergy post gave a degree of respectability to a life of leisure. At any rate, John Louis gave up his post in Essex in 1834 and from the mid-1830s onwards he devoted his time to his painting and architectural criticism, and his story is told elsewhere.

The calculation of train overturning risk – what type of wind tunnel tests should be used?

A Mark 3 coach – the GB benchmark vehicle

When considering the effect of crosswinds on a new train, an obvious first step is to obtain data on the aerodynamic force and moment coefficients, usually through the use of wind tunnel tests, with the forces and moment coefficients being measured for a range of yaw (wind) angles from 0 to 90 degrees. This process however is not quite as straightforward as it sounds. The conventional approach is to use static models in a low turbulence wind tunnel. This approach of course models neither the relative motion between the train and the ground, nor the effects of atmospheric turbulence. It does however have the merits of simplicity and convenience. The conventional argument often used to justify this approach is that for high-speed trains, the relative motion between the train and the wind leads to the train experiencing low levels of turbulence. Whilst this is the case to some extent, it is not a wholly adequate argument. Figure 1, from Train Aerodynamics – Fundamentals and Applications (TAFA), shows how the turbulence length scale, turbulence intensity and velocity shear relative to the train vary with train speed for a 90 degree cross wind. Values are given as ratios of the values when the train is stationary. It can be seen that even at 400 km/h, the train still experiences a turbulence intensity of around 30% of its stationary value, which one might expect to have a not insignificant effect on the flow around the train,.

Figure 1 Variation of relative values of turbulence intensity (black), turbulence length scale (red) and shear (green) with train speed for a 90 degree cross wind (from TAFA)

An alternative approach would be to use a wind tunnel simulation of the atmospheric boundary layer in which to measure the train forces and moments. This of course is only really applicable to stationary trains. On the basis of figure 1, I argued in TAFA that low turbulence wind tunnel tests would be best for train speeds greater than 200 km/h and atmospheric boundary layer tests would be best for train speeds below that value – but that of course represents rather a messy compromise. And both methods fail to address the issue of train / ground relative motion.

So what are the alternatives? The first might be thought to be the use of CFD to properly model both atmospheric effects and train / ground motion. However, the simulation of a realistic scenario requires complex CFD methodologies (usually DDES) with very complex domain boundaries that include the specification of atmospheric turbulence. The calculation of the flow field for just one yaw angle takes several weeks on supercomputer systems, and in reality CFD calculations of this type tend to mirror the low turbulence wind tunnel tests.

In physical model terms, two alternatives present themselves. The first is the measurement of cross wind forces and moments on a moving model rig such as the TRAIN Rig owned by the University of Birmingham.  Again, the experimental issues are formidable. The use of force balances within moving model rigs is not straightforward, and measurements of this type are usually made through the measurement of surface pressures with internal transducers, which because of transducer size and the need to carry out multiple runs to obtains stable average pressures requires multiple runs, with different pressure positions at any one yaw angle – a very tedious and complex process. An alternative would be to carry out conventional wind tunnel tests, but with a range of different turbulence simulations, each simulation being valid for one train speed only. The thought of such tests is enough to make wind tunnel operators consign it to the rubbish bin without much hesitation.

But the issue is important. Figure 2 shows three different sets of lee rail rolling moment coefficients for the Mark 3 coach, the GB benchmark vehicle that has run on exposed lines for many decades without incident. The three sets of coefficients are obtained from low turbulence wind tunnel tests; tests with an atmospheric boundary layer simulation with the coefficients formed from the mean values of measured forces and velocities; and those obtained from similar tests but with the coefficients formed from one-second peak values of forces and velocities (from Measurements of the cross wind forces on trains). The atmospheric boundary layer results are shown together with corresponding full scale results from field measurements on a real train. There can be seen to be significant differences between the three curves, particularly in the low yaw angle range which is important at high train speeds, with the low turbulence values being significantly above the atmospheric boundary layer values and the peak values being below the mean ones. If these coefficients are used to obtain cross wind characteristics (CWCs), which are plots of accident windspeed against vehicle speed, as outlined in another post and in TAFA chapter 11 and in a recent blog post, then the differences in acceptable windspeeds can be seen to be significant, particularly in the speed range around 200 km/h – see figure 3. Note that this plot shows train speeds of up to 400 km/h, which is wholly unrealistic for the Mark 3 coach – and certainly I wouldn’t care to be in one travelling at that speed! – but serves to illustrate the lack of agreement between the CWCs calculated using different moment coefficients. The difference in CWCs can be expected to make a significant difference to the calculation of accident risk, or to any operational restrictions that might be imposed, with the low turbulence results giving higher risk values and more severe restrictions.

Figure 2. Lee rail rolling moment coefficients for Mark 3 coach

Figure 3 Crosswind characteristics for Mark 3 coach

I have to admit this is a problem that I have been mulling over on and off for many years (which gives a rather sad picture of the life I lead I fear). My thoughts have been basically around the idea of how to obtain representative force coefficients to allow for the major effect of atmospheric turbulence at low train speeds and the much smaller effect at high speeds, perhaps by some interpolation of the low and high turbulence coefficients. This is not simple however, as there is no direct correspondence between variation of these coefficients with yaw angle and variation with train speed.

But there is perhaps another way – and that is to consider not the force and moment coefficients, but rather the CWCs shown in figure 3. It seems reasonable to me to assume that the most representative CWC would lie somewhere between the low and high turbulence characteristics, lying close to the ABL curve at low train speeds, and close to the low turbulence curves at high train speed. Thus figure 4 shows the CWCs formed from giving a variable weighting to the low and high turbulence curves at different train speeds, with a 100% weighting given to the low turbulence curves at a train speed of 0 km/h, and a 0% weighting at a train speed of 400 km/h, with a linear variation in between. More sophisticated weighting variations could be considered, but this approach is adequate for illustrative purposes. The two curves of figure 4 are for the interpolation of the CWCs calculated from the mean and peak coefficients with those obtained from the low turbulence coefficients. It can be seen that this approach significantly raises the CWCs in the mid speed range from the low speed values and will thus result in substantial risk reduction.

Figure 4. Interpolated cross wind characteristics

Up to now, I have referred to potential risk reductions in rather broad terms. It is however possible to put some numbers to these statements. Table 1 shows the accident wind speed at a train speed of 200 km/h for each of the above CWCs and the associated risk at the reference site as defined in my earlier post. For the original CWCs derived from the ABL coefficients, , the risks is of the order of 10-7 to 10-8, but for the CWC derived from the low turbulence conditions, the risk approaches 10-5 – almost two orders of magnitude greater. Whilst the absolute values of risk are quite arbitrary, it is clear that the use of the low turbulence characteristic would lead to a much more pessimistic (and perhaps unrealistic) risk assessment, and lower than necessary wind speed restrictions. The interpolated CWCs give values of risk of ca little less than 10-6, roughly midway between the atmospheric boundary layer and low turbulence values.

Table 1. Accident windspeeds and risk values for Mark 3 coach at a train speed of 200 km/h

So to conclude, the method outlined above gives a potentially realistic way of solving the problem of what type of wind tunnel test to use for train cross wind risk assessment. It requires two sets of wind tunnel experiments, one with low turbulence and one with an atmospheric boundary layer simulation, which is a more complex methodology than at present, but does not require extremely complex wind tunnel or CFD trials. The method results in lower values of calculated risk than would be the case using conventionally derived CWCs, and higher values of accident wind speeds.

International Wind Engineering seminars 2020/21 – some reflections

Between October 2020 and March 2021, I organised a series of six International Wind Engineering Seminars, through the University of Birmingham, my employer before I retired. These were sponsored by the International Association of Wind Engineering (IAWE) and delivered via Zoom. On the web page for this seminar series, I give the justification for organising it as follows.

“Because of the Covid19 pandemic, opportunities for the international wind engineering community to meet physically have been very much restricted and are likely to remain so for at least the next year. To enable the community to continue to interact with each other, at least in a virtual way, the University of Birmingham is organizing a series of six seminars via Zoom from October 2020 to March 2021.”

In this post, I want to reflect on how these seminars were delivered and received, what lessons might be learnt, and ask some questions concerning the future.

Each seminar consisted of a main speaker, followed by either a panel discussion or between two and four shorter presentations. The dates and topics are given in table 1. As these seminars were set up in some haste in August / September 2020, I mainly called upon my circle of contacts to be the main speakers at the events, and they suggested other speakers or panel members. I am indebted to all the speakers for taking part and spending considerable time in preparation. The nature of the delivery and follow up evolved over the course of the series. After the first seminar it became clear that I could not both chair the sessions and organise the questions in Chat to put to the speakers. Thus, from seminars 2 to 6, I was assisted by Grace Yan from Missouri who collated all the questions that were put on Chat and forwarded them to me to put to the speakers. Her help was hugely appreciated. For seminars 3, 4 and 6 the presenters and panelists were also asked to provide written answers to questions, and these were posted on the web pages that were for each of the seminars. All the presentations (and for seminars 5 and 6 the questions and answers) were recorded using the Zoom Record function and these recordings were place on my YouTube site and linked to the appropriate page. These pages also included talk abstracts and speaker biographies. After the third seminar I realised that YouTube could not be accessed from all parts of the world, so a link to the Zoom cloud versions was also given. From seminar 4 onwards, these could also be downloaded as required. The time chosen for the seminars (after the first) was 12.00 UK time, this being the best compromise for most time zones, with the exception of the west coast of the America and Australasia. I tried to institute a separate Q and A session for these time zones a day or so after the seminar, but there was insufficient take up to make it worthwhile. Thus the whole process was a considerable learning experience for me.

Table 1 Seminar dates, titles and speakers

It must be mentioned at this point that the third seminar occurred shortly after the death of Prof Giovanni Solari, who was instrumental in the setting up of the IAWE, and the speaker, Prof Kareem, paid tribute to him in his talk.

UniGe Giovanni Solari
Prof. Giovanni Solari

Table 2 shows the bare statistics for the seminars. The size of the distribution list for publicity grew through the series from the original 688 of the mailing list for the abortive BBAA conference to 1525 for seminar 6.  By seminar 3 the size of the list became so large that my e mail account was temporarily stopped as it was thought it had been hacked and was sending out spam. Thereafter I sent the information around in smaller batches. The number of registrants varied between 279 and 616, although only around 50 to 70% of these actually connected. The number of video views was also encouraging although again one must interpret these numbers cautiously as only around 20 to 30% of the views were for more than a few minutes. Note that these statistics are up to March 14th 2021 only, and as the views continued for several months after each seminar, the number of video views for the 2021 seminars will not be the final values.

Table 2 Seminar statistics (up to March 14th 2021)

Table 3 shows a breakdown of the views of the seminar web pages by month (which includes links to the videos). As expected these peak just before and just after the seminar, but all the seminars attract a significant number of views for a number of months after the event, which suggest that the subject matter is of ongoing interest. Again, note that this date only extends to the middle of March 2021,and a significant number of views could be expected for the later seminars after this date.

Table 3 Views of seminar web pages (up to March 15th 2021)

Table 4 shows the location of those who registered, as far as could be judged from email addresses. The generic .com address contains registrants from a wide variety of countries, and this rather skews the results. Nonetheless, it can be seen that whilst those countries where wind engineering is well established are well represented, a very wide range of countries was represented overall.

Table 4 Locations of registrants

Thus the numbers suggest that there was a significant number of wind engineers around the world who appreciated the seminar series and found them useful, and indeed that is what has been suggested by the informal feedback I have received. Again, caution is required to avoid over interpretation – the level of engagement with online seminars is likely to be much less than with in person presentations – I for one tend to do things such as checking my e mail / cricket scores when attending such virtual events – but not when I am chairing of course! But broadly the seminar series seems to have met a need. But there are needs it hasn’t addressed, for example the inclusion of a social aspect for informal discussion and the inclusion of young researchers in a meaningful way etc. To address this sort of issue, other formats can be envisaged – for example I can think of the following.

  • Specific discussion topics could be set, and potential attendees asked to submit short abstracts of a two minute, two slide talk, from which a balanced group of young and established researchers could be selected for a series of short presentations and a more relaxed discussion. These could be recorded and put on-line for all to see.
  • Interviews (by me or others) of a range of wind engineers, talking about their careers, their successes and failures etc., which could again be recorded and put on-line.
  • The use of a platform such as Gather Town, which seems to allow for multiple individual conversations within a group structure and could be used for, say, virtual poster sessions (but note I have never used this, although on the face of things it seems potentially useful.)

And there are no doubt other possibilities. The question then arises as to what should happen next. I don’t intend to organise any more such seminars till September at least – amongst other things I wish to watch a number of cricket matches rather than just checking the scores, and to re-acquaint myself with a number of heritage railways in Wales. So, I put the following questions to the wind engineering community.

  • Should something similar be organised for next winter as I suspect international travel won’t resume in any real sense until Summer 2022 at best? Note that I am not necessarily implying that should something felt to be necessary, then I would be the one to organise it!
  • If so, what should the format be – just one speaker, or more than one speaker, or something completely different?
  • Are there any suggestions for topics and speakers?
  • Are there any other suggestions for possible related activities, such as I mention above.

There is also a larger question of course about the future of the four year cycle of Wind Engineering conferences and whether such a cycle is still sustainable – see for example the initiative of Glasgow University which is urging academics to reduce overseas travel as part of the greening of its activities. But that is a discussion for others to have within the IAWE committee.

Please make any comments in the comment box attached to this post, or, if you wish, email me directly on Thanks in advance.

Kingswinford Landowners and Industrialists in the 19th Century – some surprising names


As outlined in Kingswinford Manor and Parish, the Fowler Maps of 1822 and 1840 gave a great deal of information concerning the landowners and occupiers of the parish at those times. In the main most of the landowners were quite local, with the major ones being the Earl of Dudley’s Estate and John Hodgetts-Foley. However, a few surprising names of landowners and industrialists crop up – those who have some sort of national profile outside the immediate area of the Black Country. In this short post, I briefly consider three of these – Jonathan Stokes, Horace St Paul and Stephen Glynn and his fellow owner of Oak Farm Iron Works.

Jonathan Stokes

Jonathan Stokes (1755-1831) was an Edinburgh trained doctor, and, from 1782 to 1788 was a member of the Lunar Society, one of the intellectual driving forces of the period whose members included Matthew Boulton and Erasmus Darwin. He is remembered for his work, in collaboration with others, on the uses of digitalis. His parents were Rebecca and Jonathan Stokes, “Gentleman of Worcester”. Many of the sources say he was born in Chesterfield, although this has recently been shown to be untrue and his birth in Worcester has been established. He had a practice in Stourbridge for a number of years from 1782 to 1785. His membership of the Lunar Society ended following fierce arguments with his colleague William Withering over authorship of a book. He married Ann Rogers, a “minor poet” at Dronfield in 1784. The marriage was four months after the birth of Jonathan and Ann’s first child John Rogers Stokes (1784 – 1818), and Jonathan does not appear on the baptismal record. Their second son John Allen Stokes was born in Shrewsbury in 1786, being baptized in a Presbyterian Meeting House. They had other children. Of particular note are Anna Honora Seward Stokes (1791-1792) and Honora Anna Seward Stokes (b1794) both named after the poet Anna Seward, ‘the Swan of Lichfield” with whom they were close friends. 

In 1788, Rebecca Stokes, at that point a widow, was involved in the sale of a plot of land on which the Red House Glassworks in Wordsley was built. She clearly owned other properties in the area, and in 1822 Jonathan, as her heir, held a number of scattered plots across the parish, mainly concentrated in the area enclosed by the Ashwood Hay Enclosure Act of 1776 and the Wordsley and Brettell Lane areas. These amounted to around 200 acres in total of mainly arable land, with a few domestic properties. In 1840, these were in the hands of his son John Allen Stokes. How the Stokes came into the ownership of such extensive lands in Kingswinford is not clear. One possible route comes from a recorded marriage in 1781 between Nancy Freeman, one of the illegitimate children of John Keeling, the agent and steward of the Dudley estate who owned significant property in the area, and one William Stokes. Links with either Jonathan however cannot be demonstrated, so this must be conjectural. Keeling did however provide generously for his illegitimate offspring, and this might be another example of his provision.

Horace St Paul

Sir Horace St Paul (1775-1840) was a career soldier who became MP for Bridport from 1812-1832 and was created a Baronet in 1813. His father was

“a Northumbrian gentleman driven into exile after killing a man in a duel and was a soldier of fortune in the Seven Years’ War, who returned to England with an Austrian title and a royal pardon, subsequently distinguishing himself in diplomacy, before retiring to his ancestral home.”

The St Paul crest

The Austrian title was as a Count of the Holy Roman Empire, which his son inherited, the most impressive of all the titles of Kingswinford landowners. In 1822 he owned around 30 acres of arable land in the Kingsley Road / Mount Pleasant area of Kingswinford, to the east of Ridgehill Wood, and almost certainly came into his possession through his marriage in 1803 to Anna Maria, the natural daughter of John, 2nd Viscount Dudley whose forebears were granted the lands at the Ashwood Enclosure in 1776. Unfortunately however, the current residents of Kingsley Road and Mount Pleasant share the defining characteristics of their former owner’s title – they are neither Holy, nor Roman, nor in any sense, Imperial.

Stephen Glynne and the Oak Farm Iron works

The Glynne Baronetcy dates back to 1661, with its main estate at Hawarden in Flintshire. The 8th Baronet, Sir Stephen Glynne (1780 to 1815)  married Mary Griffin, daughter of Lord Braybrooke. After his early death, he was succeeded by his son Sir Stephen Richard Glynne, the 9th Baronet (1807-1874). He was a Conservative Party politician and is principally remembered as aa noted antiquary and student of British church architecture and writer of a treatise entitled “Notes on the Older Churches in the Four Welsh Dioceses”.

The Glynne family were also the owners of around 100 acres of land around Oak Farm in the north of Kingswinford parish. In 1822, these are in the possession of “Lady Glynne”, presumably the widowed Mary, as the younger Stephen was still a child. At this time these lands were wholly agricultural. In 1840, the same area was owned by the Oak Farm Colliery Company .The Tithe Allocation records the owners as Thomas Bagnall, James Boydell, Baronet Sir Stephen Glynn, John Hignett, William Hignett and Charles Townshend. By this time the lands were a mixture of arable, collieries, brickworks and the major industrial concern of the Oak Farm Iron Works. The latter was founded in 1835 by  Sir Stephen Glynne, Lord Lyttleton, W. E. Gladstone and James Boydell. Gladstone, the future Chancellor and Prime Minister, and Lyttelton had both married sisters of Stephen Glynne.

The Oak Farm works suffered major financial issues, and the company failed in 1848. These events that led to this are set out at some length in the Grace’s Guide entry for Oak Farm. There are conflicting views as to the causes of the financial difficulties – with James Boydell as Managing Partner described as either as being massively over optimistic and extravagent, or as being unsupported by the other owners during difficult time. One source writes

“…the brothers-in-law (Glynne, Lyttleton and Gladstone) appear to have suffered enormous financial losses, but the experience gained by W E Gladstone in dealing with the company’s debt was said to have stood him in good stead when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer…”

Thus the affairs of Kingswinford parish seem to have had a long lasting effect on the country as a whole! There is of course also a legacy of the Glynne family in Kingswinford itself with the name preserved in the Glynne Arms – the Crooked House.

Finally it is worth just saying a little more about James Boydell. He came from Denbigh in north Wales and was a prolific inventor and patent holder. He is best remembered for his “endless railway” system, From Grace’s Guide again.

“….. the ‘endless railway’ system, applicable to traction engines and trailers. A number of flat feet were attached to the outside of a traction engine’s wheels. They were hinged in such a way that as the wheel revolved each succeeding foot would lie flat in contact with the ground, thus spreading the weight of the engine, and allowing the wheels to roll on the plates. The idea was that this arrangement would be more efficient for road-haulage engines, enabling them to deal with poor road surfaces…..”

The Endless Railway System

He seems to have invented the tank!

Kingswinford families – the Corbyns, the Bendys and the Hodgetts. Part 3 – The Hodgetts of Shut End and Prestwood

Part 1 of this blog can be found here, and part 2 here.

If success can be measured in terms of social enhancement, the Hodgetts family is perhaps the most successful family in Kingswinford history. The early Hodgetts shown in the tree below all came from the Kingswinford / Shut End area and John Hodgetts (1550-1630) and John Hodgetts (1595-1634) are both described as yeomen farmers in their wills – see Kim Simmonds Family Genealogy, 2019, which also gives sources for these genealogies. Where their land was in relation to that of the Corbyns at Corbyn’s Hall and the Bendys at Shut End is not clear, but by the 18th and 19th centuries the Hodgetts held large tracts of land in Kingswinford and elsewhere, had married into one of the new aristocratic industrialist families, served as MPs for various places in the locality and lived in Prestwood House – the largest of the gentry houses in the Kingswinford area.

The Hodgetts Tree. Shaded boxes show links with other trees in KMAP

In the 15th and 16th centuries however the Hodgetts’ horizons were more limited. In the 1490s, Edward Sutton (1460-1531), 2nd Baron Dudley, leased land in the Russell’s Hall area to “Thomas Hodgetts of Swinford”, almost certainly the Thomas Hodgetts (1465-1532) at the top of the Hodgetts tree. Similarly, in 1526, Edward leased the “erbage, justment and pannage, etc. of the New Park at Pensnett Chase”, to Thomas’ son John Hodgetts (1495-). It is also possible Henry and William Hodgetts of Sedgley, who between 1610 and 1650 were custodians of the bones of St Chad after they had been removed from Lichfield Cathedral by Arthur Dudley, Edward’s nephew, in 1538, were also related to the Kingswinford Hodgetts.

The recurring generations of John Hodgetts tended to marry the daughters of local gentry – for example Margaret Paston (-1675), the daughter of the Rector Nicholas Paston; or to Hannah Bague (1652-1712), the daughter of George Bague and granddaughter of Gload de Bague, the glassmaker family from Lorraine, and major industrialists in the Wordsley / Brettell Lane area.  John Hodgetts (1650-1716) was Agent of the Dudley Estate in the early years of the 18th century. His daughter, Patience Hodgetts (1685-1772), married Richard Keeling(e) (1677-), who was also the Agent of the Dudley Estate.  Richard and Patience’s niece Ann Hodgetts (1709-1766), daughter of Thomas Hodgetts (1678-1740), Rector of Kingswinford and vicar of Press in north Shropshire, married their son John (1713-1783) who was, once again, the Dudley Estate Agent.

It was John Hodgetts (1650-1716) who purchased the Corbyn’s Hall estate on the death of the last male Corbyn in around 1688 and took up residence there until he sold it on early in the next century. His grandson, John Hodgetts (1698-1742) married Mary Bendy, the co-heiress of William Bendy and through her he inherited at least a significant proportion of the Bendys Shut End estate. This John became High Sherriff of Staffordshire in 1737 and was himself the Agent of the Dudley Estate.

Their son, John Hodgetts (1721-1789) took the major step in the families climb up the social ladder by marrying Elizabeth Foley (1707-1759). The Foleys were descended from Richard Foley, a Stourbridge nailer from the 16th century, who had become extremely wealthy as a result of a successful marketing of his products and were heavily involved in iron production around the Midlands. Richard’s grandson, Thomas (1617-1677) built Witley Court in the Malverns and was High Sherriff of Worcestershire in 1656. He was the first of the family with political ambitions and served as an MP for Worcestershire and Bewdley. Elizabeth was Thomas’s great-granddaughter through his son Philip (1648-1716), with this branch of the family being based at Prestwood at the western edge of Kingswinford parish. John Hodgetts (1721-1789) was, like his father, High Sherriff of Staffordshire in 1765, and seems to have taken up residence at Prestwood on his marriage. Shut End House at this time (approx. 1760 to 1780) seems to have been the residence of Commander John Becher, RN, but the actual ownership is not clear.

In 1790, the daughter of John and Elizabeth, Eliza Maria Foley Hodgetts (1759-), married a cousin from another branch of the Foley family, Edward Foley (1747-1803). This was Edward’s second marriage, with the first having been annulled (presumably by Act of Parliament) but no reason for this can be found. He was the proprietor of the Stoke Edith estate in Herefordshire, and the marriage settlement specified that Eliza and Edward’s oldest child, Edward Thomas Foley (1791-1847) should inherit Stoke Edith, and their second son, John Hodgetts Hodgetts Foley (1797-1861), should inherit the Prestwood estate. It was this John who, through his major land ownership in the Kingswinford area, was to play such a major role in its industrialization. He was the Whig MP for Droitwich from 1822 to 1834 and for East Worcestershire from 1847 to 1861. His rather odd name was the result of formalizing Hodgetts as part of the surname by royal license in 1821. He was married to Charlotte Margaret Gage, granddaughter of General Thomas Gage, who commanded the British armies in the early stages of the US War of Independence. By the time of the Fowler Maps of 1822 and 1840, he held the largest block of land in the manor after that of the Earl of Dudley – 381 ha in 1822 and 266 ha in 1840. His properties in 1822 were built around the old Hodgetts estates in Shut End, the former lands of the Bendy family in Shut End and Holbeach, and the Foley inheritance at Prestwood. He had also gained significant land from the Enclosure Acts in the Ashwood enclosure, largely extending his Prestwood holdings, and also some land in the Pensnett area following the enclosure of the Chase. Foley himself lived at Prestwood, while Shut End Hall was leased to Thomas Dudley (1749-1829), part of the Dudley family with extensive inter-generational marriage links with the Hodgetts, Keelings and others. The land around Prestwood was leased out as two farms – North Farm of 96 ha farmed by Robert Roper, and South Farm 0f 73.5 ha farmed by John Beddard.  By 1840 Foley’s total ownership in the parish had decreased somewhat, through the sale of the Shut End Estate to James Foster. Foster was a prominent local Ironmaster from Stourbridge, who owned the firm John Bradley and Co., and was also partner in Foster, Rastrick and Co. He radically changed the nature of the Shut End Estate, with the demolition of the Hall, and the building of the Shut End Blast Furnaces in the grounds, together with associated coal and iron stone mines. He was also instrumental in the building of the Kingswinford Railway and the Stourbridge Extension canal to serve these works. Around Prestwood both farms were by this time leased to John Beddard (157 ha in total).


The Hodgetts tree shows the extensive connections made by marriage with other local families over the course of the centuries. The Bendy, Foley and Bague families have already been mentioned but we also see marriages to the Keeling, Addenbrooke and Brettell families. The Keelings family were holders of major blocks of land in the Kingswinford area in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and both Richard (1677-) and John (1713-1783) served as agents and stewards for the Dudley Estate. John was the last of the line and after his death his properties were held by trustees for 40 or more years, before being divided amongst the descendants of his mainly illegitimate children.

The Addenbrooke family members were also major landowners in the Kingswinford area. Jeremiah Addenbrooke (1701-1773) married Hannah Hodgetts in 1726, one of the two daughters of Thomas Hodgetts (1678-1740), the vicar of Kingswinford mentioned above. The most famous of the Addenbrooke family, John Addenbrooke, the student and fellow of St Catharine’s Hall in Cambridge who founded the Cambridge hospital was the son of Samuel Addenbrooke (1642-1710) shown in the tree, but, despite his fame, he is not a major character in Kingswinford history.

The other family that occurs in the Hodgetts tree is that of the Brettells, who were by marriage related to the Bague and Addenbrooke families. They are clearly an old established Kingswinford family, important enough to have an important thoroughfare name after them in Brettell Lane but are quite hard to pin down. Whilst there are many occurrences of the name Brettell in the marriage and (particularly) death registers, there are very few baptismal entries that would enable their descent to be determined. This is presumably because they were non-conformists of some form (and their association with the Bague family supports this assumption), and the baptismal lists of whatever chapels they might have attended have not survived.

Although KMAP does not take the history of the Hodgetts beyond about 1850, the family contend to reside at Prestwood. John Hodgetts Foley’s son was Henry John Wentworth Hodgetts -Foley (1828-1894), who was also an MP representing South Staffordshire from 1857–1868. He married Jane Frances Anne Vivian, the daughter of the first Lord Vivian. Their son Paul Henry Foley (19 March 1857 –21 January 1928) inherited the Stoke Edith estate, the other portion of the Foley / Hodgetts estate from his great aunt in 1900.  Paul Foley briefly played first class cricket for MCC and was influential in the formation of the Minor Counties Championship and was the leading figure in the transformation of Worcestershire CCC from an amateur side to one that won the Minor County Championship on several occasions and gained entry to the County Championship itself in 1899. He was also responsible for the purchase of the Worcestershire New Road ground and the construction of the pavilion there. With these most commendable of activities, Paul more than atoned for whatever may have been the sins of the ambitious Hodgetts in their rise up the social ladder.

Kingswinford families – the Corbyns, the Bendys and the Hodgetts. Part 2 – The Bendys of Shut End and Holbeache

Extract from the Fowler Map of 1822

In Part 1 of this post we looked at the first of the three Kingswinford families that were well represented in the historical records of the 16th and 17th centuries – the Corbyns of Corbyn’s Hall. Socially these were probably regarded as minor aristocracy. In this post we will consider the second of these families – the Bendys of Shut End – who came from less exalted stock.

A simplified Bendy family tree is shown above. This is still quite complex and shows marriage links with a number of local families. Much of this information is taken from the excellent Morgan web site, which includes information from a range of wills and other sources.

The Bendy Tree (shaded cells indicate links with other trees in KMAP)

The early members of the tree were associated with the general Kingswinford area, with Richard Bendy (-1592) and Elizabeth Jones being married in Dudley, and Elizabeth being buried in Kingswinford. Their son William (1560-1598) was married to Elizabeth Brookes in Worfield, over the county border in Shropshire. They had just one child, another William (1593-1657). After the death of the elder William in 1598, Elizabeth probably married again to Richard Lee in Alveley, again in Shropshire, and thus, with her son, would have lived on the Lee estate at Coton Hall. The younger William married Mary Barnesley from Trysull on the Staffordshire / Shropshire border, and their eldest son (inevitably another William) was born there in 1620.

William Bendy (1593-1657), although referred to as a yeoman (farmer) in his will, was clearly well connected, perhaps because he was bought up in Coton Hall. He seems to have been based in the Shut End area either at Shut End House or Shut End Hall The name of Shut End is no longer in common usage. It referred to the region around the Dudley Kingswinford Turnpike Road in the High Oak / Tansey Green area. Shut End Hall was to the north of the road, and Shut End house to the south, close to Corbyn’s Hall.  After the thwarting of the Gunpowder plot, the family come into possession of Holbeach House, the home of one of the conspirators, Stephen Lyttleton. William Bendy (1593-1657) would have been a minor at the time of the Gunpowder plot so could not have acquired Holbeach House directly. His elder son William (1620-1684) took his BA at New Hall Oxford in 1637, and at the very young age of 18 was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in London.  Two other sons Nicholas and Edward (not shown in the tree) also worked in London, whilst another, Samuel, was a Fellow of St Johns College, Cambridge.  The elder William’s chief claim to fame was as a member of the Committee of Stafford from 1643 to 1645, whose task was to suitably dispose of the Royalist property in the county for the Parliamentary forces. As such he would have found himself, as happened very frequently in that period, at odds with other families in the locality – and in particular his neighbours at Corbyn’s Hall.

William Bendy (1620-1684) married Dorothy Lee, daughter of Lancelot Lee of Alveley, thus making further connections with that influential family. The executors of his will were named as his brother-in-law, Lancelot Lee, and his uncle Richard Brettell. William and Dorothy had a number of children, the oldest of which was William (1653-1725). This William married twice, his first wife being Margaret Hoo, daughter of John Hoo of Bradley, by whom he had two girls, Margaret and Mary. His second wife was Mary, who bore him a number of children after Margaret’s death in around 1695, including William (1700-1782).

The sisters Margaret and Mary are referred to in various documents as William’s heirs, and it would seem they inherited most of the estate. Both married – Margaret to John Dolman, Vicar of Aldridge, and Mary to John Hodgetts of Shut End (1698-1741), the grandson of the John Hodgetts who purchased the Corbyn’s Hall estate. In documents from 1752, Mary Hodgetts and her son John are both referred to as living at Shut End and Margaret Dolman and her daughter are living at the Cathedral Close in Lichfield. Both seem to have some sort of interest in Holbeach House. The physical relationship of the properties of the Hodgetts and the Bendys around 1700 to 1750 is not at all clear and the sources are confused.   On balance it would seem best to assume that, in the first half of the eighteenth century, Shut End House (to the south of the Turnpike Road near Corbyn’s Hall) was the ancestral home of the Hodgetts, and Shut End Hall (to the north of the Turnpike Road) and Holbeach House were both in the possession of the Bendys. Shut End Hall was obviously quite a grand dwelling and the extract from the Fowler Map of 1822 above, shows a long avenue of trees extending own into Kingswinford village. By 1822, it was owned by the Hodgetts (or rather the Hodgetts-Foleys at that time) , although they did not live there, so that property clearly passed to them in some way.

William Bendy (1700-1782) lived in the “New House”, situated on the Wolverhampton to Stourbridge road, which was presumably a minor portion of the Bendy estate, and in 1728, he is recorded as living there with Mary, his widowed mother.  Some of the land exchanges that took place as part of the Ashwood Enclosure that allowed him to consolidate some of his lands in that area are described in KMAP and in another post.  He also married twice, and had several children, none of whom seem to have produced an heir for the next generation. The last two surviving Bendys – half sister and brother Sarah (1736-1818) and Thomas (1738-1818), died around the same time, and their property and fortune passed to various cousins, the Bendy line becoming extinct with their passing.

Thus by the early nineteenth century, two of the three families that had dominated the life of Kingswinford Manor and Parish from the Middle ages – the Corbyns and the Bendys – had become extinct. The third of these families – the Hodgetts – were however flourishing. It is to the Hodgetts we turn in the next post.