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Great Barr Hall - Walsall's Downton Abbey

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: April 23, 2014

By Ian Henery

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Great Barr Hall is the pride of centuries,

It enchants us and weaves its magic spell,

Scott family home, now a weathered shell.

Hidden from the road, sheltered by the trees,

Reclaimed by nature to do what it pleased.

Across the dammed water from the estate,

Great Barr Hall has been left to its own fate,

Shrouded from the world by a mass of leaves.

Great Barr Hall reaches upwards to the sky,

Its pillars observing each passing cloud,

No worship, now, in chapel, tithe endowed.

About its base, broken masonry lies;

Through the broken roof, the wind moans and sighs,

Lichen walkways support no clergy limbs

And raucous gulls replace the charm of hymns:

If it were human, Great Barr Hall would cry.

Crumbling stonework is clinging to its place,

Long-eared grasses abound and musty ferns,

Rows of disused street lamps and broken urns;

Great Barr Hall cries, tears down its wounded face.

The mullioned windows are empty space,

Access over an ornamental bridge:

To let this site decay is sacrilege,

A forlorn stately home none can replace.

A security guard's lunch, sodden bread,

Food for birds in the overgrown car park.

A world grown silent, you can hear skylarks,

In fields across the run-wild flowerbeds,

A rose giving a privet hedge some red.

In the chapel, no more the sound of prayer;

Swooping swallow gymnasts disturb the air:

They screech their psalms from their little black heads.

Mighty trees shelter saplings of their seeds,

A nuthatch making its nest above ground.

Noise filtered out, only bird song is found,

Now a nature reserve where wildlife breeds.

Slabs of concrete lie buried by weeds,

Nature spreading into the peeling rooms,

A blanket of leaves to slowly entomb

This world tumbling into overgrown reeds.

Great Barr Hall still defiantly remains

Despite nature's inexorable march.

Weeds and grasses invade stairways and arch,

All matter returning to earth again,

Master sculptor carving by wind and rain.

In the chapel, no bell for worship rings

Just an owl - its sighing evensong sings,

Great Barr Hall at twilight, in Chapel Lane.

Its pride that's kept Great Barr Hall for so long,

It permeates out of every door;

An identity on each of its floors,

A sense of its being that has kept it strong,

Amongst this parkland, Great Barr Hall belongs.

Nature showing God's presence, joy this gives

And if it stirs senses, Great Barr Hall lives,

A fact rejoiced in all of the birdsong.

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