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Long live the Kings.


IT IS home to the largest collection of medieval buildings in Birmingham.

But the landscape of Kings Norton has changed drastically since the 15th Century.

In particular, the south Birmingham district has undergone heavy development since the turn of the 20th Century as it gradually shifted from its rural setting, featuring farms and minor country houses, to small private housing developments.

The pace of change quickened following the Great War.

And after the Second World War the building of massive municipal housing estates, including 24 high-rise tower blocks on former greenfield sites, completely changed its outlook.

A number of timber-framed buildings were scheduled for clearance without appropriate consideration for their heritage value.

But on The Green, the village centre of the district, The Tudor Merchant's House and 17th Century Old Grammar School, either side of St Nicolas' Church, survived.

The future of the historical buildings, now known collectively as St Nicolas' Place, was boosted when they won funding through the BBC TV programme, Restoration, in 2004.

And subsequent archaeological excavations have provided evidence of the medieval culture of a bustling centre for the wool trade in the area, which remains home to seven working farms.

Other historic buildings have had their usage changed completely.

Primrose Hill Farm and barn have been converted into a care facility, for example.

The history of Kings Norton has been traced back to Roman times. But it was from the medieval period that names started to appear in charters, rolls and wills, among other documents.

Three notable early families were the Fields, from Primrose Hill; the Grevis', including Sir Richard Grevis, a judge; and the Middlemores, who are buried in St Nicolas' Church graveyard.

Early references to the district are not to be confused with Kings Norton in Leicestershire.

The Domesday Book states that Birmingham's Kings Norton was one of 18 outliers of Bromsgrove, which was held by Earl Edwin before the Norman Conquest.

On 28 September 1697 the manor of Kings Norton was leased to Princess Caroline, dowager Queen, for 31 years.

But Kings Norton ceased to be a Royal Manor when it was sold to John Taylor II in 1804 for PS7,458.

His predecessor, John Taylor I, was Birmingham's first major manufacturer of buttons and the founder of what became Lloyds Bank.

Industrialisation began in the north of Kings Norton along the canals.

The junction between the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal opened up the area, which was complemented by the opening of an 'express' route, via the Lapal Tunnel in Bartley Green to the Black Country, which enabled the transportation of heavy raw materials, especially coal and lime.

Small settlements then began to emerge in Cotteridge and Stirchley.

Meanwhile, George and Richard Cadbury built their chocolate factory and created the model village of Bournville.

And Herbert Austin established his car factory at Longbridge, which led to him creating a workers' village made up of imported from America duKings Norton came undetration from Birminghamshire rather than WarwickIt was then that the GScheme came into effect aup by its growing neighbouA post Second World Wmunicipal housing saw tbuilt in the south of the dieconomy of the builds soon difficulties and social isolbeen experienced. f prefabricated homes uring the Great War. er a separate adminis-, being in Worcesterkshire, until 1911. Greater Birmingham and it was swallowed uring authority. War boom in building thousands of homes istrict. The speed and n disclosed structural lation problems have In the last decade parts been demolished and rebscheduled for demolition. of the estates have built or are currently pick up a copy of Kings Nby Wendy Pearson. orton Through Time, shed by Amberley, see


RISE AND FALL: High-rise tower blocks and massive housing estates were built on greenfield sites in Kings Norton after the Second World War.

THEN AND NOW: The Green (and right). Below: The Saracens Head pub and (below right) pictures of life in old Kings Norton.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 4, 2013
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