Copyright 2021 - Custom text here

There was a park pertaining to the manor from the 13th century, when it was first mentioned, until its destruction in the 18th century. It was held of the lord of the manor by William Wyrley in 1538. Joan Botetourt was granted free warren in her demesne lands in Handsworth in 1334 and this right together with a free fishery in the Tame, first mentioned in 1291, descended with the manor until 1794 at least.

The manor of HAMSTEAD centred in, if it did not solely consist of, the house called Wyrley's or Hamstead Hall. In 1538 William Wyrley held, as freehold of the manor of Handsworth, his chief mansion of Wyrley's with the lands belonging to it, the properties called Holford and Milwards, the mills of Hamstead and Holford (or Hurstford), a fishery in the Tame and other lands, mostly by nominal rents. He also held the park for £5 a year. It is not known when the Wyrleys first acquired Hamstead, which appears to have originally been the manor-house of Handsworth manor.

Members of the family had held land in Handsworth, Perry, and Hamstead from the 13th century at least. William of Wyrley was vicar and possibly rector in the 13th century; William son of Robert of Wyrley laid claim to the manor of Perry, with at least temporary success, in 1279, and John son of Robert of Wyrley and Robert son of Guy of Wyrley held land in Perry in the early 14th century.

No Wyrleys were named in the subsidy roll of 1327 but in 1332 Robert of Wyrley, assessed at 6s. 4½d., follows Joan Botetourt at the head of the list for Handsworth, and John of Wyrley in Perry and Little Barr paid 5s. 4½d. There is much evidence of the family's tenure of unidentified lands in Handsworth from the 14th century, and the first clear evidence of the family's possession of its later estates is the grant of Holford mill with a fishery in the Tame which Roger of Wyrley received from John Botetourt in 1358. John Wyrley was Maurice Berkeley's bailiff in Handsworth in the 15th century.

Hamstead Hall, together with considerable property in Handsworth, remained in the Wyrley family, along with half the manor of Perry (from 1546) and the manor of Handsworth (from 1679), and passed to their descendants the Birches in the 18th century. Hamstead Hall stood near Hamstead mill on the Tame until the late 18th century, when the old one was pulled down and a new one built about ¼ mile further west. It ceased to be the residence of the lords of the manor in the early 19th century when the Birch family moved to Norfolk and the estate was sold to the Earl of Dartmouth, who lived at Sandwell Park just across the boundary of West Bromwich. The house was a long rectangular two storied structure with the entrance under a pedimented gable at one end; it was pulled down c. 1935 to make way for new housing but a part of the old gardens along the river bank survived as woodland in 1959.

A medieval estate known as HAMSTEAD, quite distinct from the manor of the same name mentioned above as a subsidiary manor of Handsworth manor, was a subsidiary manor of Perry. In 1213 Hugh of Perry granted ¾ virgate of land in Hamstead to Henry of Hamstead to hold of him and his heirs. In 1250 Thomas of Hamstead accused William of Perry of waste in the woods of Hamstead which William held as his guardian. Richard of Perry held Perry and Hamstead as one fee of William de Birmingham in 1284, and Thomas of Hamstead held Hamstead of Richard as ¼ fee. In 1293 Thomas disclaimed all right to hold pleas of the Crown and to have free warren, gallows and waif in his manor of Hamstead.  In 1356 land at Perry and Hamstead was held of Philip of Perry, and Hamstead was granted with Perry to the Marquess of Dorset in 1397 and 1399. In 1407 Margaret, Countess of Warwick, held Hamstead with Perry and Little Barr.

From: 'Manors', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7: The City of Birmingham (1964), pp. 58-72. URL:


Copyright 2020 Great Barr Past and Present, Anthony Lewis