Silhill Hall stood on the corner of Streetsbrook Road and Broad Oaks Road for some 700 years until it was illegally demolished in 1966. An exhibition at the Core Library, Solihull (until 28th May 2022) includes photos and memories from descendants of the Morris family who owned the house 1904-1949.
Originally known as Solihull Hall, it’s believed that the half-timbered house was built during the 13th century and was owned by successive Lords of the Manor until it came into the hands of the Crown in 1417. Subsequent owners included:
- the Middlemore family (1500s-1717)
- Gough family (purchased in 1717)
- Chattock family (1834-1904)
- Morris family (1904-1949)
- Horace Leonard Foster (1949-1965)
In 1965, the house was purchased for £15,000 by Malcolm Ross, a young property developer from Birmingham. He said that he would landscape the grounds and install modern comforts such as central heating, but did not intend to do anything to spoil the hall’s “historic character.”
Malcolm Ross undertook works on a gatehouse on the site, intending to turn it into a bungalow. Solihull Council served an enforcement notice in respect of these works and, in mid-March 1966, also applied to the Ministry of Housing for a preservation order on the hall. Malcolm Ross’s solicitors were advised of this provisional order, which their client was intending to oppose.
However, before the order could be confirmed, or the provisional order contested, the hall was reduced to a pile of rubble, having been demolished by the owner on the grounds of public safety.
In the early hours of the morning on Sunday 27th March 1966 most of the country was lashed by gale force winds. Malcolm Ross, returning from a hunt ball, decided to check on the condition of Silhill Hall and, apparently finding the roof damaged, “set to work on the walls of the Hall to make it safe.” Conveniently, a bulldozer was already on site to assist in the task.
On Tuesday 29th March 1966, Solihull Council instructed its Town Clerk to take all action open to it in respect of the demolition of the hall. Malcolm Ross pleaded guilty to demolishing Silhill Hall in contravention of the Town & Country Planning Act. The Chairman of the Magistrates imposed the maximum £100 fine, and noted that the evidence suggested that it had been a “calculated work, planned beforehand.”
Planning applications were refused during 1967 for a motel, a block of flats, and a cul-de-sac with ten dwellings. In December 1967, a plan for six detached houses was approved, and these were advertised for sale in November 1968.
For more information about Silhill Hall, visit the free exhibition in the Heritage Gallery on the first floor of The Core, Solihull during library opening hours. The exhibition will end on 28th May 2022.