Northfield Manor House
|Northfield Manor House|
|Town or city||Birmingham|
|Owner||University of Birmingham|
On 30 July 2014, the building suffered extensive damage caused by a severe fire, confirmed as arson.
The property had belonged to the University of Birmingham since 1953, when it was bought from the Cadbury family. A farm house, part of the Manor of Northfield, belonging to the Jervoise family, was recorded as being on the site circa 1750. In 1809 the estate was purchased by Daniel Ledsam, a London merchant. It is believed that he made alterations to the house and was responsible for the current main building.
George Cadbury bought the house in 1890 and the Cadburys moved there from Woodbrooke, in Selly Oak, Birmingham, in 1894. They lived there together until George's death at the house in 1922. Elizabeth continued to reside there until her own death in 1951, aged 93. During the Second World War she invited the Friends' Ambulance Unit to use the grounds as a training centre.
On acquisition by the University, the property was renamed The Manor House and converted for use from 1958 as a hall of residence by H W Hobbiss. Additional wings have since been added. Its use as a hall of residence ceased in 2007, apparently because of prohibitive costs of bringing the property up to current health and safety standards.
Architecturally, it is in mock Tudor-style stone and brick, with timber-framing, projecting porch and carved bay windows probably by George Gadd who also designed some of the early Cadbury's factory buildings at Bournville. Internally the style is Jacobean with wood panelling, carving and inscriptions.
On 30 July 2014, the building suffered extensive damage caused by a severe fire. There were plans to sell the building to Banner Homes for redevelopment  if the planning application for conversion to apartments before the city council were successful. A West Midlands Fire Service spokesman said up to 100 firefighters had tackled the blaze. Twenty fire engines, including specialist hydraulic platforms and a high-volume water pump, were deployed. Firefighters said the cause was arson; the second such attack on the building in two days. Much of the main grade A listed building was damaged or destroyed. Three boys, aged 12, 14 and 15, were subsequently arrested and later bailed, on suspicion of starting the fire.
2015 partial demolition
In June 2015 a large part of the Manor House was torn down by demolition crews working on behalf of the University of Birmingham, who still own the site, though it was claimed only those sections of the building that were structurally unsound had been demolished. A spokeswoman for the University stated it had "become clear" that much of the property had been "damaged beyond repair", due to the fire of 2014, and was in "a dangerous state", leaving them with "no choice but to take down substantial parts of the structure." Prominent local historian Dr Carl Chinn was reported as urging the University to stop the demolition and to "consult with local people through community groups and their elected representatives over the future of this building", adding that the owners "should take a serious look at how they will restore the building, in partnership with the community."  In response the University's vice-principal, Professor Adam Tickell, claimed that despite the demolition of the majority of the structure it remained the intention of the University that the building should "be rebuilt to mirror the external appearance of the original manor house", going on to say the planning application had been revived and now included "provision for the rebuilding of the manor house".
Northfield Manor Farm Park
Manor Farm Park was once the grounds of Northfield Manor House. It comprises a 50-acre open space with woodlands, meadows and a lake, created by damming Griffins Brook. Merritt's Brook also crosses the park.
There is a wooden picnic barn built for visiting schoolchildren in 1894.
The park opened to the public in 1951.
- English Heritage advisors' report (PDF)
- "Online Standard Details". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
- "Northfield Manor House fire was arson attack". BBC Online. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
- "Schoolboys arrested on suspicion of arson at former Cadbury family home « Express & Star". Express & Star. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
- "Anger as 300-year-old Northfield Manor is all but demolished « Birmingham Mail". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- "Northfield Manor House set to rise from ashes in new flats scheme « Birmingham Mail". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
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