Appendix - Hay Hall
This brief summary should be read in conjuntion with the other pages on Hay Hall contained in this website. It was put together from notes by E.C. Tyler, a Director of the Company, in 1948.
APPENDIX - HAY HALL
It may be worthwhile, at this point in our story, to break off for a moment to mention something of the ancient manor house known as “HAY HALL”, which the Company acquired with the land at Tyseley, and which is now used as offices.
It seems unfortunate that an authoritative history of this house and the families who have lived in it has never been written, and it would be a matter of great regret to many if, one day, it should be demolished, its existence forgotten, and its history left unrecorded. Fortunately repairs to the fabric which are being undertaken at the time of compiling this history should ensure the preservation of the building for many years to come.
The house was probably built between the years 1275 and 1300, most likely by Robert de la Hay, who is known to have been living here before the year 1327. It is significant to note that the massive oak roof trusses still supporting the roof today are identical in design, and the general structure bears a striking resemblance to other ancient buildings in the locality built around the same period (notably Solihull Hall, built by Sir William de Odingsells, who was Lord of the Manor of Solihull from 1264 to 1295. It also bears a striking resemblance to the architecture of the Guild Hall in Henley-in-Arden). Some arch beams were found to be ornamented with a black pigment, whilst behind lime wash on an old plastered wall was found a decorative design, probably dating from about the year 1520. The design consisted of some sort of flower and scroll work, and would indicate that the room was one of importance. The remains of wattle and daub (clay bound together with hay and straw worked in between inter-woven hazel branches) partitions dividing the upper rooms of the house can still be seen.
Additions during the early Tudor period converted the house to an 'H'-shaped design. The porch (once the front entrance but which is now regarded as the back) and one side of the building show half-timbered construction, which probably dates back to the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century. The north east wing with its blue diapered brickwork is of the Tudor period, whilst a substantial Georgian addition, which now forms the front of the house (but was once the back) was made during the late eighteenth century, probably about 1790. The centre of the house originally had a large open hall, which was later partially filled up by internal walls and floors, making it into a number of smaller rooms, but the original plan of the interior can still be traced from the mullioned windows which lit it, a large open fireplace, and the original roof trusses, all of which still exist. A pool at the back was filled in fairly recently, and this was probably the remaining part of the moat which at one time surrounded the house.
Inserted in a window in the Tudor portion of the house is some stained glass bearing the letters “A” and “E”, which are bound in the design of a tasseled cord. These letters probably stand for Anne and Edward, and the window put in to commemorate the marriage of Anne Gibbons and Edward Est, about the year 1538. It is perhaps worth noting that the tasseled cord binding these two initials is identical in design to the tasseled cord which binds the letters “W” and “S” on the signet ring of William Shakespeare, who lived in about the same period as Anne and Edward Est.
A lot of local legend appears to link up the Hall with the names of a number of Royal personages who have long since passed into history, but a study of manuscript records which are still in existence, and which are probably the only reliable authority relating to the Hall, do not indicate that Queen Elizabeth found time to put in a night there amongst all her other believed appointments for “sleeping out”, neither is there any evidence that King Charles 1st, or any other of the Stuart kings, used the Hall as a place of refuge. There is no evidence of the existence in the past of a subterranean passage which linked the Hall with the local Church, through which, centuries ago, mysterious and sinister monks are supposed to have passed from the one establishment to the other, the motive for which the legend has never quite made clear.
Bulpitt in 1922 mentioned Hay Hall in his “Yardley Charity Trust” as a building “of little interest to the antiquarian”. This may or may not be true, but historical interest in any ancient house usually centres around the families who have from time to time lived in it, and Hay Hall can truly be said to have housed its full measure of interesting people whose activities and deeds are too numerous to mention in this brief account.
The house and the neighbouring district of Hay Mills undoubtedly derived their names from a family by the name of de la Hay(HAY - derived from Anglo-Saxon “hege” meaning an enclosed space) and the first authentic record of the existence of Hay Hall occurs in Frowde’s “Worcestershire Place Names”, which quotes as follows:-
“Hay Mills, Hay Hall, in Yardley (on the Cole river) 1327.Robt.in the Hay”.
It can be assumed, therefore, that Hay Hall had already become established in 1327 as an important house of the district, but probably only very little of the house as it stood then exists today, much of it having been pulled down and from time to time gradually rebuilt more on the present lines.
The de la Hay family continued to occupy Hay Hall until 1423, when Marion de la Hay, who appears to be the last survivor of her family, married Thomas Est, who at the time of his marriage was described as being of Kenilworth. Among the appointments held by this worthy was Governor of Kenilworth Castle, and one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber of Kings Henry V and VI. He was also a distinguished soldier in the wars with France during the reign of Henry V. He died in 1462 when the house passed to his son, also a Thomas Est. The Est family lived in the house for nearly three hundred years, and seemed to have been a family very varied in outlook and character. They were great benefactors of the church at Yardley, and although they had many of the virtues of their day, it must be confessed they also had some of its faults, and several members of the family at times found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
In 1537 Edward Est was plaintiff in a Star Chamber case.
In 1563 Henry Est surrendered to the “Fleto” (famous London prison) and was granted pardon of outlawry passed on him for debt.
In 1610 Edward Est was brought up at Worcester Quarter Sessions for an alleged assault on an ale house keeper of Yardley.
In 1631 the same gentleman was brought up again, together with his son Thomas, on a charge of causing riot, and five years later the son Thomas was again charged at the Worcester Quarter Sessions with assault.
In 1637 “certayne differences fell out” between Charles Dod and Thomas Est on account of Est’s “disgracefull words against ye Coate of Armes of ye sayd Charles Dod”. Peace was restored by the mediation of James Archer, Vicar of Yardley.
On the other hand, another son, also named Edward, managed to secure for himself a place on the other side of the law by becoming a Barrister of the Inner Temple in London, but he died in 1625 when only 27 years of age. Of the others perhaps the last of the family who lived at Hay Hall is worthy of mention. He was another Edward Est who was born in 1633, and through an accident lost his sight when a small child. Bulpitt records “he got by heart all the scriptures of the old and new testaments, besides other religious works”. This is presumed to mean that he acquired a complete and thorough knowledge of these, which was no mean feat for a man living nearly three hundred years ago, and who was blind from childhood. He died a bachelor in 1703 in his seventieth year.
After the death of Edward Est a number of families appear to have lived in the Hall for relatively short periods, and it changed hands frequently. It was also converted into two residences.
Of all the many occupants of the Hall over the last one hundred and fifty years only one is of interest - a certain Dr. Gilby who was living at Hay Hall in 1810, for it was in this year that the Hall was damaged by fire. In Aris’s Birmingham Gazette of June 1810 a letter is published in which Dr. Gilby seeks to publicly express his great thanks to his neighbours for the prompt and ready assistance they gave in stopping the progress of a fire which threatened the complete destruction of the whole of his house. Dr. Gilby also did not omit his thanks to Mr. Simms, the organist at St. Philips (now the Cathedral Church of Birmingham) who happened to be staying in the house at the time. It is doubtful whether this fire was as severe as one would be led to believe by the tone of Dr. Gilby’s letter, as a considerable number of the roof timbers in the house today are considerably older than 1810. Dr. Gilby did not stay on at Hay Hall long after this fire, and he appears to have let the house from time to time to tenants, and 1852 the property was sold to James Deykin. A few years later James Deykin created a Trust, under which the income from the property was to benefit his daughter and her children and their heirs, and finally in 1917 the Deykin Trust sold the property and land to The Patent Butted Tube Company Limited for factory development.