The boundaries of Yardley in 972
(Extract from an copy of the Charter of that year confirming the possession by Pershore Abbey of 5 hides in GYRDLEAHE.)
'This sind tha land gemaera into Gyrdleahe. Aerest of Gyrdleahe on Colle. Of Colle on Maer Dic. Of Maer Dic on Blacan Mearcan. Of Blacan Mearcan on thone Haeth Garan on Dagardingweg. Of Dagardinweg on Ac Wyllan. Of Ac Wyllan on Bradan Apoldie. Of Bradan Apoldie on Meares Thorn. Of than Thorne on Smalan Broc. Of Smalan Broc on Cinctunes Broc. Of Cinctunes Broc on Dyrnan Ford. Of Dyrnan Ford on Brom Halas. Of Brom Halan on Hwitan Leahe. Of Hwitan Leahe on Leomanningweg. Thonan on Colle. Of Colle on Meos Mor. Of Meos More on Ciondan. Of Ciondan on Spel Broc. Thonan on Bulan Wyllan. Of Bulan Wyllan on tha Langan Aec. Of tha Langan Ac (on) Mundes Dene. Of Mundes Dene on Colle. Of Colle eft on Gyrdleahe.'
A translation by G. B. Grundy, published in Vol. LIII of the Transactions of the Birmingham Archeological Society, 1928 is as follows.
(Repetitions of landmarks in the original are here omitted.)
'These are the bounds of Yardley. First from Yardley to Cole ...to Boundary Dyke ...to the Black Border (*) ...to the Gore of the Heath to Dagardingway ...to the Spring of the Oak Tree ...to the Spreading Apple Tree ...to the Boundary Thorn ...to Narrow Brook ...to Kington Brook ...to Hidden Ford ...to Broom Hollows ...to White Lea ...to Leommanningway ...thence to Cole ...to Moss Swamp ...to Ciond (a) ...to Spel Brook ...to Bull Spring ...to the Tall Oak ...to Mund's Dean ...to Cole ...from Cole again to Yardley.'
* Mr. E. E. Barker, M.A., suggests 'Bleak (open, exposed) Border'.
Identification of these boundaries can only be conjectural, since only the Cole is certainly known. Broom Hollows (Broom Hall?), Ciond (a) which may well be Chinn Brook, and Kington Brook, are possible to recognise: but all other placings are doubtful, and based on the unproved though reasonable assumption that in Saxon times Yardley was already established within the bounds since recorded.
The starting point is Yardley, presumably the site of first settlement on or near the present village centre, at the edge of the relatively dry and open sandy patch which was used for the first open fields system. The River Cole, curving about the manor from west to north-east, provided an indisputable if shifting barrier. The circumstances which enabled a very small Hwiccan group to claim and retain more than 13 miles of river bank, with the fish, hay, pasture, waterpower, and perhaps navigation, which were obtainable therefrom, cannot even be guessed at.
From the Cole, the bounds are recorded clockwise. The Boundary Dyke or ditch may have been the Lea Ditch of 1609 (see below), which takes the line to Sheldon Heath, where the Bleak Border would be. Dagardingway was probably Pool Lane, and it might by guessed that the Gore, a triangular piece of ploughland, was that formed by the Yardley boundary and a bend in the lane. Oak Spring was perhaps the source of Lyndon Green Brook. It is notable that therefrom many expected landmarks are not listed. In that unsettled district, watercourses were the most convenient of boundaries, and in later times nearly half of Yardley excluding the Cole was defined by them, so that it is reasonable to assume that this was so in 972 : and if they were not than recorded, it must surely have been that they were so obvious as to need no recording. If this theory is correct, then it may be claimed that as in recent times the border followed Lyndon Green and Smarts Hill Brooks, and a tiny tributary of the latter which enters it east of the ancient moated site on Moat Lane. (Hytson's Dytche of 1609).
The Apple and Thorn Trees then presumably marked the boundary across the small local watershed (along which Coventry Road would later lie - it is not here mentioned) to the next stream, Narrow Brook. This may well have been Westley Brook, only 1 mile from its source. If the Saxon surveyor was consistent, the two brooks named presumably did not form the border, but only crossed it. Kington Brook is then doubtfully identified with Broomhall Brook. It is tempting to claim that Kington Brook is that which, rising on the Golf course (White Lea?), flows north-east past the earthwork at Kineton Green, the ancient Cinctun: but Yardley does not touch this brook at any point now. That it had importance in the fixing of the boundary is certain, however, for the latter parallels it for more than two miles at a distance of 2-300 yards. Geology suggests that the border was set at the forest-edge, where it stopped at the boggy alluvial meadows beside the brook: the people of Cinctun may have established precious riparian ownership on both banks before the Yardleians appeared.
This part of the itinerary is very difficult to determine. In Broom Hollows (Brom Halas) we have an apparent likeness to Broom Hall, but this ancient moated site is 500 yards from the boundary, and not in a hollow. Hidden Ford may not have been a stream crossing, but a firm footing across a boggy patch. Foul Slough (1843) where the boundary approaches nearest to the Kineton Green Brook, at the foot of a slope, is a possible site. Broom Hollows is then placed somewhere near Langley Hall: broom certainly grows on the Golf Course. Langley Lane skirted the area in later times and perhaps in 972, staying on higher, drier ground after Hidden Ford.
Leommanningway, the way of the family of Leommann, is possibly Stratford Road. No other mark being given before returning to the Cole, the Shirley Brook was presumably the boundary then as now. Moss Swamp is a good name for the undrained heath of Warstock, in which the Yardley Wood Brook flowed east to the Cole and provided a precise border needing no record. Where the surveyor is so vague, we must assume that the boundary went straight from one obvious point to another: in this area, from the source of the Yardley Wood Brook to the confluence of Chinn Brook and its tributary, the Haunch Brook. Ciond (a) is very reasonably identified with the Chinn.
It is tempting to suggest that Spel Brook is the Haunch Brook, in order to establish a link between Bull Spring and the later Bulley Hall (Bulleye ref. 1280). But if the surveyor was consistent, so obvious a boundary as Haunch Brook would not be listed. Hence it must be assumed that Spel Brook was the Bulley or Coldbath Brook, which crosses the boundary 1¾ miles north of the Chinn, and Bull Spring the source of the Showell Green Brook, somewhere near Wake Green Road. Tall Oak may have been at the Belle Walk-Stoney Lane Corner, since Mund's Dean is probably the shallow valley of the Spark Brook, which provides a clear boundary back to the Cole and Yardley.
Between Chinn and Spark, 3½ miles, there are only three listed landmarks: since in later times there was a lane (Bulley Lane, etc.) along almost the whole of this stretch not defined by Haunch Brook, it is conjectural that the boundary had been fixed along an existing track in comparatively open heathland, as geology suggests. The alternative seems to be that the track which became the lane was trodden out in regular perambulations, and this is unlikely though not impossible.
The boundaries of Yardley in 1609
In 1609 there was a Presentment made at a 'Courte holden for the mannor of Yardley in the County of Wigorn', which records in detail the boundaries of the manor, as established by examination of ancient records and by sworn testimony.
There are many difficulties in drawing the 1609 boundaries on a modern map. Hedges and ditches, which latter include both natural and man-made watercourses, banks, pools and trees, are frequently used as landmarks, and these cannot always be traced, while the relating of bounds to properties of individual owners by name rather than by location is, in the absence of estate plans, quite unhelpful.
The Cole was the boundary between Yardley and Aston, the latter being a large Parish containing several sub-manors, those bordering Yardley being Castle Bromwich, Little Bromwich, and Bordesley. The river defined the border from Lea Ford upstream to the pool tail of Hay Mill, that is, almost to the confluence of the Cole and Spark Brook. The itinerary is given anti-clockwise, which is unusual, though the Perambulation of Solihull in 1786 also went the same way round.
Following the Spark Brook, the Yardley-Bordesley boundary went west to Spark Green, which lay about the present junction of Stratford Road and Stoney Lane, and south along the middle of that rough track (then called Lowe Lane) as far as the Gilden Corner. This, which W. B. Bickley suggests should be the Yielden Corner, was the eastern edge of the Moseley Tax Yield, part of the very large Parish of Kings Norton, Yardley's neighbour on the west from Highgate Lane to Solihull Lodge. The Corner was at the junction of Stoney Lane and Belle Walk, which was called Greene Waye and formed the boundary, continued by Bulley Lane across the edge of the waste called Kinges Heathe, part of the royal manor. The Corner of the Haunche was probably at the south end of Barn Lane, and the Round Croft next to it, whence the Haunche Ditche (Brook) provided the boundary down to Chinn Brook. The Launde, a small dell on the brook, may still be seen. The extensive Billesley Common was included in Yardley, but The Haunch Farm was just outside.
Beyond Chinn (‘the Water of Chyne’) the border climbed out of the valley southwards, leaving Warstock Farm just in Kings Norton. The name was anciently 'Hoar Stock', meaning a boundary post: the Saxon boundary (see above), apparently so indefinite, may have been marked by a number of these, movable though they were - unless in fact they were tall, distinctively-lopped trees. From Warstock the border went straight to 'a crosse on Hoyters Heathe', presumably at the point where the manors of Kings Norton, Yardley, and Solihull meet: it was perhaps a cross, but more likely a crossroads on Prince of Wales Lane. See map. Here was desolate heathland, though there was sporadic woodland about - Kingswood to the west, and the woods of Yardley and Solihull separated by the valley of the Yardley Wood Brook, which formed the boundary down to Bates Mill and the Cole. The Priory Millpool is not mentioned (nor is Old Mill Pool on Shirley Brook, nor Danford Lake on Spark Brook): since the Presentment is so detailed, lack of record would seem to indicate non-existence, but as on shared streams the boundary ran down the centre, it would be clear without mention that this also applied to any pools constructed on them.
Bates Mill, more recently known as Colebrook Priory Mill, was in Solihull Lodge. This 'lodgment' in Worcestershire - the Cole had been the county boundary down to the Yardley border - was granted to the Lord of Solihull from King's Norton in 1243. Thus the Presentment records boundaries with Warwickshire from Highters Heath eastwards. The 'fleame' or tail-race from the Mill was the last reach of Yardley Wood Brook, which had probably been diverted to enter the Cole lower down and so ensure a better run-off when the Cole was high.
Beyond 'the water of Cole', the boundary follows hedges and ditches: it is not made clear that there is a well-defined stream, Shirley Brook, along this line, which is shown as the boundary on Beighton's map of 1725, and had almost certainly provided a ready-made border since Saxon times. 'Old Mill', shown by Beighton, is not mentioned: Fynche Halles was perhaps the later Colebrook Hall Farm. It, the Radmore, Thomas Hawe's land, and the Conningree Crofte, all backed onto the brook, which rose near Stratford Road - 'the highway leading from Birmingham towards Henley'. The boundary thence went, by a path not recorded, past Steelefields, a house just in Yardley standing beside Solihull Lane, and along Redstone Farm Road, then Langley Lane: where that turned northward, the boundary followed a narrow lane (still faintly visible across the Golf Course) past Langley Hall (‘The Langleys') , and by a ditch thence to Gospel Lane. At this point Yardley, Solihull, and Lyndon met, and the last named, a detached part of Bickenhill, shared the boundary as far north as Barrows Lane.
At 'The Rasse', which might be the tail-race of Broomhall Mill, otherwise Broomhall Brook, the boundary left Gospel (Langley) Lane to cross the Sixte Lands: these appear to have been enclosed into six fields athwart the boundary, since the marks given are trees (possibly planted specially to show the line) and a pool, an ancient moat. Beyond 'the highway leading from Birmingham toward Solihull' (Warwick Road), the same line was continued along Rowe Lesowe Lane (Lincoln Road) and Rowe Lesowe ditche into the grounds called Shawley. This may have been the later Lyndon Farm, just outside Yardley. The Shawley ditch led into Shearley Medowe ditche which crossed the boundary, and was almost certainly Westley Brook.
A ditch led north-east from the Brook to Lynedon Field Gate, with the Open Field to the right, and The Breaches to the left in Yardley. Therefrom an unrecorded lane led to Coventrye Way, parallel to and 100 yards east of modern Gilbertstone Avenue, and to a ditch on the north side of the highway. Turning north-west along a hedge, the boundary came to 'the lane where the stone doth lie called Gilbertstone'. This, and two others on either side of the front door of Biddle's House which straddled the boundary, were erratic boulders, quite common relics of the Ice Age in our region, and often used as border-marks. There are several references on the east side of Yardley to Shire Meares or County Boundaries as if they were in some way different from other listed marks, and one wonders if certain stretches which lacked hedge, ditch, or lane, were marked by a line of stones or a fence.
Beyond Biddle's House, the line ran through a pool, down Haitley's ditche and Hytson's dytche (both assumed to be the same rill which enters the Smarts Hill Brook at Moat Lane, which was next listed - but not named) and so down Haytley's dytche (Smarts Hill Brook) to Lyne Lake: this is thought to have been at the confluence with the Lyndon Green Brook, which was probably Dunton's ditche. From Barrows Lane (not listed in 1609) northwards, Yardley shared a boundary with Sheldon, and from Duntons this went across Sheldon Parke. The exact line is not traceable, because there was an alteration in 1717: by agreement between the two parishes, the line was then drawn straight across the Park, 660 yards north-east to Park Lane.
The boundary followed the lane (later Pool Lane) to the corner of Byefeildes, where it deviated about a small field (the ‘Gore’ of 972). At Kytt Greene it left the lane for a small watercourse, which had six names in its 1100 yards to the Cole. It had Sheldon Feild to right and Lea Feild to left, both making use of the patch of glacial drift thereabouts. The Dods of Lea Hall, the Ests of Stechford and Hay Hall, the Cottrells of Paradise, and the Greswolds of Greet, all held or leased land in this corner of the manor, and their holdings are traceable. From the confluence of the Lea Ditch with the Cole, the boundary returns to Lea Ford.
The boundaries of Yardley in 1843
Following the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836, it was necessary to have very accurate maps of each Parish, so that the exact acreage of every piece of land could be determined for the purpose of assessing the rent charge which was to replace the ancient tithe.
The maps, drawn on a scale of 10 inches to a mile which permitted even the smallest enclosure to be shown, the accompanying Schedules, and sometimes the detailed Perambulation of Bounds, which were produced in our area during the early 1840s, are of the greatest value for students of the historical geography of the Parishes. The Yardley map shows every watercourse, field division, road, lane, track, building, quarry, canal and railway. There are very few names, but every piece of land is numbered, and named in the schedule. The old open fields, very recently enclosed, may be traced because of their different numbering from their neighbours. (The open field systems of Greet and Lea, earlier enclosures, are lost except for those pieces of them which retain the name). There is no Perambulation for Yardley, hence the lane names used in the Tithe Map sections of the Boundary Comparison may not be those used in 1847.
For this study, the bounding features of Yardley and its seven neighbouring Parishes have been plotted on a single map from the Tithe Maps and Schedules: this has proved less rewarding than was hoped, because so few names refer to topography, and location names arc usually related only to the farm which contains them - e.g. Far Close, Great Leasow, Home Piece. It is indeed notable how few of the 1609 names survive in any form. Of about 200 fields on both sides of the boundary from the Spark anti-clockwise to Lea Hall, only 17 are recognisably those of 1609: they are instanced in the Boundary Comparison which follows. The chief value of the Tithe Map for this study has been its scale and accuracy, which have permitted plotting of the 1609 features with some confidence, despite the changes of name, and have assisted conjecture about the 972 landmarks. Among the details indicated by field-names are four ancient moats, at 'the (Haunch Brook) Valley' on Yardley Wood Road, then Wildays Lane: in Moat Lane: on the boundary just south of Warwick Road: and Kents Moat in Sheldon. Not far from the boundary are the moated sites of Broom Hall, Hiron Hall, Moat Farm on Coventry Road, the Allestrey moat behind the church in Yardley village and the possibly moated Bulley Hall. Also worthy of note is the number of farms whose buildings have been put right up to the boundary: outside Yardley there are The Haunch, Warstock, Langley, Gilbertstone, and Lyndon; within our Parish there are Bulley, Hollybank, Steelfields, and The Lea. It is suggested that in some cases at least these are not ancient, but are among the newest farms, formed on the edges of the various manors when all other land was taken, from the mid-12th to the late l4th century.
The boundaries of Yardley in 1911
When the Rural District of Yardley ceased to have a separate existence in 1911, its boundaries were as follows:
(* following a stream name indicates a convenient location name, applied where no other name is known.)
The River Cole from a ditch outlet 200 yards west of Outmoor Farm in Sheldon, upstream 6 miles to confluence with Spark Brook: up that brook 1¼ miles to Stoney Lane: along that lane, Belle Walk, Billesley Lane, Springfield Road, (all east side) Barn Lane (west side), to Hollybank Farm, thence south across fields to Haunch Brook, 2 miles from the Spark: down Haunch Brook to Chinn Brook, 1 mile: south past Warstock Farm (in Kings Norton) to junction of Limekiln Lane, Warstock Lane, thence south-south-east across fields to Prince of Wales Lane at the boundary of Solihull Lodge and Kings Norton, and north-east across fields to Yardley Wood Brook *, ¾ mile from the Chinn: down Yardley Wood Brook to the Cole, ¾ mile: upstream 100 yards on the Cole to its confluence with Shirley Brook *: (beneath railway embankment): up that brook, 1 mile, across fields north-east to Stratford Road, a footpath to Solihull Lane, Gospel Lane (both east side) to a point 300 yards from Solihull Lane, thence by hedge and ditch past Langley Hall Farm (in Solihull) to Gospel Lane (east side): from a point 100 yards past Broomhall Brook *, north-north-east across fields to Warwick Road: Lincoln Road (east side) to Clay Lane, footpath to Lyndon Farm (in Solihull), hedge and ditch north-north-east to Westley Brook, across field 100 yards north-west, then 400 yards parallel to and west of the footpath, thence along west side of lane to Coventry Road: skirting Gilbertstone Park (in Solihull), 120 yards north-east, 150 yards north-west, 170 yards north-north-east, 170 yards north-north-west: footpath beside ditch to Moat Lane, along lane, 150 yards east to Lyndon Green Brook, 2¾ miles from Shirley Brook: down Smarts Hill Brook to its confluence with Lyndon Green Brook *, up that brook 550 yards, across fields 660 yards north-east to Pool Lane, 440 yards along that lane east: there the boundary leaves the lane for 250 yards, cutting across bends in lane (in Sheldon), returns to lane for 100 yards, then passing The Lea in Yardley, follows The Lea Ditch north-east to the Cole, 1100 yards.
The boundary is about l7½ miles long, and of this distance 11¼ miles are watercourses, including 6 miles of the Cole, about 3¼ miles are hedge lines or across fields, and about 3 miles are lanes or paths.
This circuit of the boundaries has been given counter-clockwise for ease of comparison with the report of 1609 which, rather unusually, goes in that direction.
In 1874 Lyndon, a detached part of Bickenhill Parish, was transferred to Solihull. In 1931, when most, but not all, of Sheldon, came into Birmingham, the part of Lyndon north of the Coventry Road was transferred to Birmingham. The southern part is identified with Olton.
Since 1966 the ancient boundary of Yardley with Solihull has been abandoned between Wellfield and Leysdown Roads: instead of going straight between these two streets, the boundary follows the centre of Gospel Lane, so that the whole or the Langley Hall housing estate is in Solihull. In compensation for this small loss to Birmingham, the whole of the playing field east of Gospel Lane's north end is now included in the City.
In 1974 the south-east side of the first part of the straight section of Gilbertstone Avenue from Lyndon Field to Wichnor Road was transferred into Birmingham from Solihull. The City owns Lyndon Field, although it is in Solihull.
In Yardley Wood, two small roads off Peartree Crescent, Gedney Close and Navenby Close, which are on the Birmingham side of the Yardley Wood Brook, are within Solihull according to the current boundary.
Reasons for the study, the origins of Yardley and the Charter of 972
The mapping of Yardley boundaries
The boundaries of Yardley in 972
The boundaries of Yardley in 1609
The boundaries of Yardley 1843/7
The boundaries of Yardley in 1911
A comparison of the boundaries between 972 and 1962
Supplement: the boundaries in 1495
Map: boundaries in 972
Map: boundaries in 1609
Map: part of Beighton's Mapp 1725
Map: boundaries in 1847
Map: boundaries 1911 to 1966