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Corbyn’s Hall – Forbidding Old House Demolished by Edwardians

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: April 20, 2006

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There are a number of large houses in the Black Country that demolished a long time ago. These fine buildings were once the homes of the local gentry or the rich industrialists that did so much to shape this region. While the buildings themselves may have been torn down their place in the landscape is still remembered through the roads and streets that were named after them. The old house with its notable roof that gave Tiled House Road in Pensnett its name is long gone. Not far from there are the remains of another large house knocked down around 90 years ago but still surviving in the names of nearby streets.

Corbyn’s Hall Road and Corbyn’s Hall Lane give testimony to the fine house that once stood nearby. The great house also gave its name to the colliery, the workings of which would eventually prove to be the undoing of the house.

It is thought that the first hall was built in the late Norman period, after the castle at Dudley was begun, when the Pensnett area of Staffordshire was covered in thick woodland that stretched over Himley, Baggeridge, parts of Womborne and Trysull and as far as Kinver and Enville.

The Corbyns took possession of the Hall and its lands in the reign of Edward I when John De Sutton, Lord of Dudley, gave the lands to Thomas Corbin. The Corbyns were a Warwickshire family. When the last male Corbyn passed away the Hall and its estates passed to John Hodgetts but it was later sold to the Gibbons family who were ironmasters in the area.

It is not entirely clear when the last Hall to stand on the site was built. Succeeding generations had added to the building and by the reign of Charles II Corbyn’s Hall could be considered to be a very fine house. However, by the beginning to the 20th century the house had lost most of its former glory and was a dilapidated, near ruin.

The 1912 edition of Blocksidge’s Dudley Almanack, from which these old photographs are taken, featured an account of the Hall written by a W. G. Hancock. He writes in a rather imaginative and florid style of the area’s mediaeval history and when he comes to describe the Hall as it was shortly before it was demolished he talks of Corbyn’s Hall as if it were akin to the House of Usher in Edgar Allen Poe’s famous horror story. “The entrance hall was of large dimensions but dark, approaching uncanny gruesomeness, owing to the number of trees of gigantic growth which surrounded it and ungratefully refused to allow light to filter through the windows.

One felt chilled on entering this place, there was absolutely no redeeming feature to brighten up the building. The walls looked stern, hard and forbidding, and the huge slate slabs which composed the flooring reminded one of the Bastille or New Gate in their most unhallowed memories. The staircase was spiral and conveyed an idea that it was built in an age when beauty in building was of a very inartistic order. All the rooms were large and fairly lofty but they looked barn-like, cold and uncomfortable. Rumour asserted that there was a subterranean passage existing from the Hall to Kingswinford Church, but one of the latest tenants who dwelt there said that, seized with a morbid curiosity, he made up his mind to explore the place and clear up for ever the mystery. By the aid of a miner’s lamp he managed to get some yards through the passage but his exploration did not last long for he discovered it merely led to an opening which, probably at one time, served the Hall as a wine cellar or a storage place for food.

When the furniture was sent away from Dudley Castle, the massive oak dining table, which had occupied a dignified position in the fine old banqueting room there, was removed to Corbyn’s Hall. It was discovered, however, that it was too large for admission in the doorways and was sawn asunder. here the other part of the table sought a subsequent situation is a matter of conjecture, for many Dudley families claim its last location in the dwelling of their ancestors.

This, then, is a brief outline of the old Hall, which was dismantled and razed to the ground in 1910. Now for the surroundings. A belt of lofty trees encircled it, a stately brotherhood of gigantic elms, and the grounds around would occupy at least an acre of ground.

Mining subsidence in recent years played havoc with the building and it was allowed to crumble and decay. A stone-cracker is erected near the site; the trees have been hewn down and uprooted, and the once proud mansion of the Corbyn family is only a memory of the past, and has shared the fate of Bromley Hall which occupied a position only a mile or so away.”

Today, the site of Corbyn’s Hall is covered by the Steetley Industrial Estate which also covers much of the land of the former Corbyn’s Hall Colliery.

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