A Labour of Love and Historical Research; Alison Jones Reports on One Couple's Fascination with the History of Their Charming Farmhouse in Blackwell, Bromsgrove

The Birmingham Post (England), January 26, 2012 | Go to article overview

A Labour of Love and Historical Research; Alison Jones Reports on One Couple's Fascination with the History of Their Charming Farmhouse in Blackwell, Bromsgrove


Byline: Alison Jones

Uncovering the history of the house she and her husband have lived in for more than 20 years has proved to be a fascinating piece of detective work for Bobbie Matulja, with surprising clues thrown up over the years.

Bobbie actually began her research into The Sidnalls on the outskirts of the village of Blackwell, Bromsgrove, back when she was a teenager doing her A-levels.

Her parents, Tom and Judith Knowles had bought the historic property at auction in 1975 and she has lived there on and off since she was a schoolgirl.

Over the years she has gleaned information about the house from a variety of sources including the book A Thousand Years in Tardebigge, which was written by a Margaret Dickens in the 1920s based on old parish records.

When she and her husband Phil were relaying the old quarry tiles in the dining room they found a penny dated 1851.

"We deduced it was put there on purpose by a workman," said Bobbie.

Another clue came when a woman named Nancy Davies gave her mother a small watercolour back in the 1980s.

"She said 'I think this is your house'. It was a representation of it back in Victorian times. I think it was painted by her father who was a driver for the Earl of Plymouth."

The house actually dates back much farther than the 19th century. The previous owners of the house, a Mr and Mrs Amatt, believed the name The Sidnalls was Saxon for Broad Corner.

The ?rst mention of it, as recorded in Margaret Dickens' book was during the reign of Henry II, when he added the "grange of Sydenhale" to the Royal Forest of Feckenham.

In the 14th Century the Abbot of Bordesley bought it from the Crown and it was used to produce food for the Abbey.

The Crown took it back at the time of the Dissolution and it became the property of Lord Windsor (the title of Earl of Plymouth was created for the Windsor family back in the 17th century), remaining as part of the Hewell Estate.

The house was actually demolished and rebuilt around 1750, although many of the medieval building materials were recycled and used for the new building, such as old beams and sandstone blocks around the lounge ?replace.

A century later the house was split into three farm workers cottages by Lady Harriet Windsor. It was restored to one house by the Amatts who bought it in 1954, the estate having been broken up after World War Two.

Bobbie and her husband Phil took it over in the late 1980s, following the death of her father when it became to much for her mother to manage. They bought a neighbouring cottage for her so she could remain close by.

"Phil and I renovated from the ground up. It was a big job. We had to go as far as underpinning.

"It was ? …

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