What is it?
Core of a medieval village surviving in an urban area and remains of two medieval moated sites and a holloway.
Landranger - Map 139
Explorer - Map 220
Grid reference - SP 135863
Parking - On Church Road – near St Edburghas’s Church and on Sheldon Heath Road for Kents Moat. Car park at Blakesley Hall.
Public transport – Buses from Birmingham City Centre (near Moor Street Station) stop on Bordesley Green East a 400m walk away. Outer Circle bus 11 stops nearby in Stoney Lane. Nearest railway station is Stechford approximately 1.5km.
For bus and rail details see http://www.networkwestmidlands.com/
Access – Vehicle access is restricted through the village. Old Yardley Park is open at all times. Kent’s Moat is approximately 1.25km to the east of the church. It is possible to walk around the outside of the moat in public open space. The moat platform is private.
A tearoom is available at Blakesley Hall without visiting the house (seasonal) approx 600m to the west of Yardley Village. Check website for details.
A remarkable survival of a medieval village retaining much of its rural character located in the east of Birmingham. The village probably has its origins in the late Saxon period and had developed into a nucleated settlement around St Edburgha's church by the 13th century. The church is not generally open but check with the parish office to find out when access is possible www.stedburghas.com .
Next door to the church is the impressive timber framed building known as the Old Grammar School dating from the late 15th century and in use as a school until 1908.
Until the early 19th century the village consisted of a group of small farmhouses and cottages with barns clustered around farmyards with smallholdings behind. Whilst many of the buildings were replaced in the 19th century and the village was engulfed by development as Birmingham expanded in the 20th century, a farmhouse and other agricultural buildings survive from the 18th century.
Opposite the Grammar School Nos 423 – 425 date back to the 1700s starting as a modest cottage then extended in the mid-19th century for use as a slaughterhouse and butcher's shop; the red brick building with the small barred window being the slaughterhouse and the pebbledash house with a cast iron openwork frieze above an inserted door and windows marking the original butchers shop front.
Continue north along Church Road.
No 431, a three storey house with several out buildings to the side and rear dates from 1796 and was in use as a general store until the 1960s.
Penny Cottage was built in 1826 for the uses of the local blacksmith.
Nos 437-443 are built on the site of an early farmhouse in the 19th century and the end property was once the post office. (no photo)
Next to these the white painted pair of houses Nos 445-447 were built in the 18th century and originally used as a malthouse before conversion to cottages in the 19th century.
The group of farm buildings associated with Church Farm are a notable survival ranged around a traditional farmyard including a cow- house (with gable fronting the road), a barn to the back of the site with a wide waggon entrance (now converted to a dwelling), the farmhouse No 451 and a stable with loft above which is attached to a modern blacksmiths premises.
Return back to the Old Grammar School.
The medieval village was surrounded by open fields some of which now form Old Yardley Park. Take the path through the formal gardens on the frontage next to the Grammar School and as you walk towards the children’s playground the remains of a moated site (Rents Moat), in a small area of woodland on your left, can be explored.
Beyond this medieval ridge and furrow can be seen in the grassed area between the moat and Queens Road. Look for a series of long, raised ridges separated by ditches in the grassland of the park. They were formed by the use of ploughs in the Medieval period to prepare the ground for growing crops in a system of shared fields that once surrounded the village.
A rare survival in the urban area.
About 10 minutes walk to the east you can find the well preserved remains of Kent’s Moat. Follow the path through Old Yardley Park and then continue along Sedgemere Road, turning left at Partridge Road then right at Broadstone Road and right again at the crossroads into Sheldon Heath Road. The earthwork remains of a medieval moated site will be seen on the right-hand side at The Hay’s Kents Moat.
The moat belonged to the Sheldon family who built a house here in the early 13th century and rebuilt it during the 14th century. The house was abandoned in the 1600s. The moat, which is now dry but originally filled from a natural spring, is approximately 9m wide and 3.3m deep and surrounds a rectangular platform 78m by 54m. An original entrance is preserved as a causeway across the north eastern arm of off Sheldon Heath Road, now called Fleetwood Grove.
Excavations undertaken in the 1959 and 1964 before the flats were built, found evidence of the timber buildings that once stood on the site together with roof and floor tiles and a number of household finds including pottery. A tiled hearth was also found that was probably part of the kitchens.
Finds are on display in Birmingham Museum.
The moat surrounds a development of flats on the platform but is clearly visible and quite substantial. A remarkable survival in the urban area. Please respect the privacy of the residents and do not enter the moat platform.
The site is a scheduled monument which means it is protected by law. This means metal detecting and unauthorised digging at the site is not allowed.
Blakesley Hall Museum – a fine timber framed Tudor house – is about 10 minutes walk to the west of Yardley village. Check web site for opening times and admission fees to house. The tea room can be used without entering the house. http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/blakesley
If you do visit Blakesley Hall it is worth taking another detour to see a well preserved Holloway which formed a main road through the area in medieval times linking the medieval village of Yardley to the nearest crossing point of the River Cole. Leaving Blakesley hall turn right along Blakesely Road and then right again into Stuarts Road. Look out for the entrance to Marlborough House Community Park.
As you walk into the park before you the modern path passes through a deep holloway. This is a sunken lane which has been eroded away over hundreds of years of use by people, vehicles and animals. Much of the route of the holloway has been lost beneath modern development and this stretch is a significant survival.
Find out more:
- Skipp, V, Medieval Yardley
- Dornier, A, Transactions of Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, Vol 82(1967)
- Hodder, M, Birmingham the Hidden History. (2004 /2011)