10 February 2012

West Bromwich Manor House

Next month we are going to start work on a very exciting community archaeology project at the Manor House in West Bromwich.

The moated complex of timber-framed buildings consists of a thirteenth century hall with fifteenth century and later additions, including a late sixteenth or early seventeenth century gatehouse, and a separate seventeenth century block.

By the early eighteenth century much of the manorial estate had passed out of the control of the owners of the hall, and in 1820 the main buildings were converted to tenements. Further additions were made to the complex during the nineteenth century.

In the early 1950s the site was 'restored' along the conservation principles of the time. This meant that most of the eighteenth and nineteenth century additions were demolished, and the medieval fabric was rebuilt. The moat was also re-excavated along what is probably not its original alignment.

More detailed history of the Manor House can be found here.

After a long period of use as a pub and restaurant, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council took on the management of the site in 2010.

We have been asked to deliver a community archaeology project at the Manor House. Although some previous archaeological work has been done on the site, much of its story remains untold. We are hoping that this work will answer some significant research questions about the site. In particular we are going to explore:
- the original location and alignment of the moat
- the relationships between the various elements of the complex
- the remains of the eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings and other features

The project will provide opportunities for adult volunteers, school groups and the general public to get involved in doing archaeology in West Bromwich. As well as geophysical survey, landscape survey and - of course - excavation, everyone will get the chance to do some historic building recording and finds analysis.

This is a really exciting opportunity for us, and I am very much looking forward to developing some of the ideas about empowerment and advocacy which we have begun to apply to our community archaeology projects in Telford.

As well as posts on this blog, you can also follow progress on our CBA Community Forum pages.

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