Saturday, June 14, 2008

Kings Norton, Birmingham

Congratulations to Canon Rob Morris and the other people of Kings Norton who have worked hard to preserve the Old Grammar School and Saracen’s Head. About four years ago the buildings were the winners in the second series of the BBC2 programme Restoration, in which viewers voted for it to be restored. Now the project is complete and yesterday Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, officially opened the Saracen’s Head.

The two buildings date from the 15th century, although both have been adapted and altered over the centuries, this history of change and development adding to their interest. The Saracen’s Head (shown in the picture) was originally a merchant’s house. It was clearly built for someone with both money and status – the timber work is very showy for its period, with the vertical timbers placed close together (a technique called close studding) and an overhanging upper floor (known as a jetty) – both of these features were signs of a high-status building. Later the house became an inn, hence its name, and later still part of the building was used as a shop and tea room.

Now it is to be the parish office and provide community rooms and a venue for local events. The Old Grammar School is used educationally to show visitors how pupils were taught in earlier centuries. Both buildings are very special survivals in this built-up district on the edge of Birmingham and they richly deserve the support they gained from both the viewers of Restoration and the local team who brought the project to fruition.


Thud said...

It is good to see such buidings saved but I do feel a small sense of regret that it couldn't revert to a private house.Buildings built for living in just feel that much more whole with life within them.

Peter Ashley said...

Well worth a look at, and the chocolatey delights of Bournville are only just down the road.

Anonymous said...

Does this post refer to Selly Manor in Bournville? It think it must do as I don't recall there being a building like this in Kings Norton. If it is Selly Manor then it might be worth saying it is in Bournville which is next to Kings Norton. It is a great place and very small inside!

Philip Wilkinson said...

No, this post is about the Saracen's Head in Kings Norton. Selly Manor is a different building.