St Mary and St Margaret Church

The Manor and Village of Castle Bromwich

Castle Bromwich is a pleasant suburb in the Borough of Solihull Metropolitan District. It lies just beyond the eastern boundary of the City of Birmingham and is some 6 miles from the city centre. Until the 1930s the manor of Castle Bromwich stretched from Stechford almost to Water Orton, lying on higher ground between the valleys of the Rivers Cole and Tame. From the Norman Conquest this was a sub-manor of Aston under the overlordship of Dudley. It was held initially by a follower of Ansculf of Picquiny, himself a lieutenant of William the Conqueror. Sometime during the next century the family acquired the surname de Bromwich . The manor passed by marriage to the Ferrers family of Chartley c1345 and again by marriage to the Devereux family one of whom eventually became Earl of Essex. It was Sir Edward Devereux who built Castle Bromwich Hall on the present site in 1599.

Sir Orlando Bridgeman bought the manor in 1657 for his son, Sir John Bridgeman I whose son, Sir John Bridgeman II inherited in 1710 and subsequently extended and improved the hall. The Bridgemans were created the Barons Bradford in 1792 and the Earls of Bradford in 1815. The seventh earl is the current lord of the manor. The arms in the present church bear the Red Hand of Ulster indicating the purchase of the baronetcy from James I in 1611.

The importance to this church of the succession of lords of the manor is that, until 1878 this was not a parish church, but the private chapel of the manorial lords. It is likely that the original Norman chapel was built for one of the de Bromwich family, and extended by a Devereux during the 1400s. The church was then rebuilt 1726 -1731 by Sir John Bridgeman II. The present Lord Bradford is still the patron of the living.

1886 Ordnance Survey map of Castle Bromwich
The Chester Road is shown here passing between the church and rectory. It is now cut off about 100 metres north of the graveyard. The steep road up Mill Hill from Castle Bromwich Mill on the River Tame to the graveyard no longer exists. It was removed during construction of an island on the Chester Road to link with the M6 motorway and the Chelmsley Collector Road which now run across the top of this map.

The Village
Castle Bromwich was a small rural community on the northern fringes of the Forest of Arden until the mid-20th century. The village has Anglo-Saxon origins but evidence points to people living around here long before that. Most of the manor was agricultural with scattered dwellings and hamlets, but there was always something of a village centre on the Chester Road around Castle Bromwich Hall and east of it. The village and its manor could not but be influenced by their proximity to Birmingham. From as early as the 12th century Birmingham became increasingly the predominant local market; and from the 17th century its developing industry made an economic impact for many miles around. During the 18th- and especially during the 19th century, wealthy Birmingham businessmen built a number of large houses in this picturesque corner of leafy Warwickshire.

In 1931 districts to the west and south of the manor including Bromford, Hodge Hill, Buckland End and Shard End became part of the City of Birmingham. Extensive housing development began before World War 2 on the Birmingham side and continued in the rest of the manor throughout the second half of the 20th century. With the development of the Chelmsley Wood housing estate in the late 1960s Castle Bromwich became continuous with the Birmingham conurbation except for a narrow strip of pastoral farmland which still separates it from Water Orton. With local government reorganisation in 1974 Castle Bromwich was transferred from Warwickshire County Council to become part of the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull. The last major housing development was in the early 1980s along a strip parallel to the Chelmsley Collector Road.