|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2010)|
|Himley Hall and Park|
|Administrative authority:||Dudley Council|
Himley Hall is a Grade II* listed building.
In early days, it was a moated manor house, standing beside the medieval church. For over four centuries it served as a secondary home to the Lords of Dudley and their knights. Its occupants included Dud Dudley, whose 17th-century experiments in smelting iron ore with coal were carried out nearby. In 1645, King Charles I encamped in the grounds on his way to defeat at the Battle of Naseby during the English Civil War.
In 1628, the Ward family inherited the title Lords of Dudley through the marriage of Humble Ward to the heiress to the Dudley estates, Frances Sutton. Humble Ward was the son of the jeweller and goldsmith to the court of King Charles I. Following damage to Dudley Castle during the Civil War, Himley Hall became the principal family home.
Today's hall dates from the 18th century when John Ward demolished the medieval manor to make way for a great Palladian mansion. The village of Himley was relocated at this time, and its church rebuilt on its present site in 1764. In 1774 John Ward died and was succeeded by his son John junior. He brought in Lancelot 'Capability' Brown to re-design the parkland.
The 180 acres (728,000 m²) of grounds were designed by Capability Brown to include a great lake, fed by a series of waterfalls from a higher chain of smaller pools.
In 1934 the Duke and Duchess of Kent honeymooned at Himley. The Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) spent his last weekend there before his abdication.
After the Second World War, the property was sold to the National Coal Board for £45,000. During its conversion for this new purpose, a fire broke out in, and gutted, the South wing. This part of the house was rebuilt, but not according to its former appearance. The decline in the coal mining industry in the area led to the Hall being once more put on the market. In 1966, it was purchased jointly by Dudley and Wolverhampton County Borough Councils - despite existing within the Seisdon Urban District (and then South Staffordshire from 1974). The park was opened as a public leisure area. In 1988, Dudley bought Wolverhampton's share, gaining outright ownership.
Set in the grounds of Himley Hall, Himley Park was created in the 1970s and is now visited by over 200,000 visitors each year. It features a large lake and hill with many woodland walks along with open parkland. There is a small log cabin cafe which is open for hot food and drinks for 364 days a year.
There is also a nine hole public golf course which was designed by A & K Baker in 1980 and a family pitch and put within the park along with public fishing on the lake. Himley Hall sailing club have sailed on the Great Lake since 1970 and are a RYA registered training centre.
Himley Park is now a premier events venue playing host to a variety of outdoor events from garden plant fairs and classic vehicle shows to the Himley fireworks display.