Birmingham Manor House

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameBirmingham Manor House
Alternative NamesBermingham
Historic CountryWarwickshire
Modern AuthorityBirmingham
1974 AuthorityWest Midlands
Civil ParishBirmingham

In 1086 4 hides in BIRMINGHAM which Ulwin had held under the Confessor were held by Ricoard under William FitzAnsculf. (V.C.H. Warws. i. 332) Henry II made a grant of free warren in Birmingham and Handsworth to Peter the Steward (dapifer), (Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 782) who occurs as Peter son of William, steward of Dudley, in 1153 and had a grant of a market at his castle of Birmingham in 1166, (Coll. Hist. Staffs. (1941), 48) (VCH)

Bradford's plan shows a circular water-filled moat at SP 07448642, the island some 70.0m across, the moat varying in width from 8.0 to 30.0m. The manor house is shown but not named. Detailed report on the watching brief carried out between 1973 and 1975, including an assessment of the nature and extent of the medieval borough of Birmingham from documentary sources. The moat was the home of the de Birmingham family. From the finds recovered the moat would seem to have been constructed in the C13. A length of sandstone wall was observed, which protruded into the moat and could have formed the base of a protruding oriel window, a tower or bridge abutment. The style of masonry suggests a C13 date. The date at which the medieval buildings were removed is not clear. Whether any had been demolished by the time the Francis family built a mansion within the moat in the C16 is not recorded. Documentary sources indicate changes to the buildings within the moat and the moat itself, with Birmingham Moat and Parsonage Moat (SP 08 SE 14) being connected by a watercourse which was apparently filled in between 1731-50. By 1816 Birmingham Moat had also been filled in and the existing buildings demolished (Watts). (PastScape)

Excavations during the construction of the Birmingham Wholesale Markets between 1973 and 1975 revealed a sandstone wall that included a moulding similar to those found on other sites in the West Midlands such as Sandwell Priory, probably dating it to the twelfth century. (Buteux p

4) This wall had been incorporated into a later structure about 11m long and 4m wide with chamfered ashlar stonework - possibly a tower, an oriel window, the base of a stair or the end of a building - with a buttress that indicates a likely thirteenth century date. (Buteux p. 4) Further excavations as part of the redevelopment of the Bull RIng in 2000 showed that the moat was 2.5m deep. (Hodder p. 89)

Documentary evidence of the site is slight. The moat may have been associated with the castrum mentioned in the royal charter of 1166 that granted Peter de Birmingham the right to hold a market in Birmingham, (Hodder p. 89) though this isn't certain. (Watts p. 31) The site was mentioned again in a survey of Birmingham of c. 1529 that describes the moat and a drawbridge and claims that the buildings were in a ruinous condition. (Watts p. 27) Another sixteenth century document describes an outer court to the south east of the site. (Hodder p. 89) By the time the site was first illustrated in William Westley's 1731 map of Birmingham there appear to have been no medieval buildings remaining apart from a large circular dovecote, (Watts p. 27) and later maps of 1750 and 1778 show four buildings running across the site in a north-south direction. (Watts p. 28) A single illustration of the site survives from 1814, the year before its destruction. (Watts p. 28) (Wikipedia, 6-4-2012)

Gatehouse Comments

The form of the C12 'castle' or the Saxon manor is unknown but the circular moat suggests the C13 manor house occupied the same site and this was ditched and embanked.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP074864
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Hodder, Michael A., 2004, Birmingham: the hidden history (Tempus)
  • Buteux, Simon, 2003, Beneath the Bull Ring: The Archaeology of Life and Death in Early Birmingham (Brewin Books)
  • Leather, Peter, 2001, A Brief History of Birmingham (Studley: Brewin Books) p. 9-10
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 445
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 31
  • Salter, Mike, 1992, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 19
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 486 (possible)
  • Skipp, Victor, 1980, A History of Greater Birmingham - down to 1830 (Birmingham) p. 25, 47
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 353
  • Stephens, W.B. (ed), 1964, VCH Warwickshire Vol. 7 p. 58- online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Samuel Bradford, 1750, Plan of Birmingham Scale 100ft to 1 inch (Birmingham Central Library)


  • Dugdale, Wm., 1656, The Antiquities of Warwickshire (Thomas Warren) p. 655- online copy


  • Watts, L., 1978-9, 'Birmingham Moat, its History, Topography and Destruction' Transactions of Birmingham and West Midlands Archaeological Society Vol. 89 p. 1-77
  • 1912, Transactions of Birmingham and West Midlands Archaeological Society Vol. 38 p. 24

Primary Sources

  • Conway Davies, J. (ed), 1957, The Cartae Antiquae Rolls 11-20 (Pipe Roll Society, new series, 33) p. 190-1
  • Carte Antique Rolls, C52, Roll 19, Nos. 41 & 42 []