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Corbyns Hall-A Pensnett Stately Home for 600 years

By Josephine.Jasper  |  Posted: October 08, 2013

Corbyns Hall

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Corbyns Hall is still commemorated by a street of that name, in Pensnett. It was demolished in 1910 after standing for almost six centuries - a victim of subsidence caused by coal-mining operations in the area.

The estate was originally given to Thomas Corbyn, by John de Sutton - Lord of Dudley - during the reign of Edward 1st.

Corbyns 'fortified mansion' was surrounded by a moat and located in a forest clearing of Pensnett Chase - long before the charcoal-burners decimated that vast tract of woodland.

The rich deposits of mineral wealth which lay beneath this former hunting-land of Dudley lords, motivated 'The Coal Rush' which was eventually responsible for the destruction of this ancient and historic house.

As early as the 17th century, Thomas Habington, the historian, wrote...'The inhabitants (of Pensnett) though certainly descended from Seth (Smiths) yet follow the profession of Tubalcain, the inventor of the Smith's hammer.

The rest are miners, delving into the bowels of the earth for our fuel and have all the reputation of bold-spirited men'...

The miners mentioned by Habington, were responsible for digging hundreds of pit-shafts in the area - which in later years, became 'death-traps' for the unwary. So many fatalities occurred that in 1701, an order was issued by Dudley Manorial Court which sought to solve the problem. It stated...

'It is decreed that those who receive profits from coal-pits and stone-pits on Pensnett Chase shall fill up the old pits which constitute great peril for the inhabitants'...

During the early 1800's, John Gibbons, a wealthy ironmaster, was the owner of Corbyns Hall. It can hardly have been a comfortable residence, despite its imposing lines, for the original wings of the house had been built without chimneys. Its lofty and extensive apartments were paved with cold slate floors and heating the place must have been a great problem.

However, perhaps its owner was more capable than most of solving it, for he designed and built the first round hearth furnace, in the area, and thus revolutionised the iron-producing industry.

Nowadays, the demolition of a 'noble pile' like Corbyns Hall, would undoubtedly meet strong opposition from local conservationists but, in 1910, folk were fully occupied by the mundane problems of personal survival rather than rallying to the defence of 'old houses.'

Consequently, some fascinating fragments of the area's history were reduced to rubble around the turn of the century.

We must be grateful that, in this instance, the 'image' of a once-great house was 'captured' by some anonymous cameraman - the next best thing to bricks and mortar...

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