Lea Road Junction 1910. On the left at the side of the Pillar Box was the gates of the large house known as Hillside. fast forward a century and the site is now occupied by a drive – through, McDonald’s.
A little while ago I was asked how Lea Road came to be, well perhaps this post will give a little insight into that request.
Page 44 of Mander & Tildesleys History of Wolverhampton published in 1960 tells us The Elizabethan town of Wolverhampton, such as others not far distant (Walsall, Dudley, Kidderminster) was divided into two districts, the town and its ‘foreign’.
The town on its hill was concentrated, and there was the church.
The foreign was country and here we have the country estates:
One of which was “The Lea”. Originally, it was one of Wolverhampton’s moated mansion houses, and also a relic of the Middle Ages as the seat of the Waring Family.
Nicholas Waring’s death is recorded in the Parish register on 24 Nov 1577. Nicholas Waring was ‘of the Lea, Gent’.
Also it records The marriages of his grandson Thomas; first with the daughter of William Cresswell and secondly with the daughter of Edmund James an important man in his day.
On this small portion of Saxtons map of Staffordshire, dated 1577, the Lea is marked in all its glory. Later maps of Plot and Bowen omit it.
Many place names near to Wolverhampton can be identified eg; Tetnall for Tettenhall, Byshburye for Bushbury, Over and Nether for Upper and Lower Penn respectively. The only place name marked close to the town centre is ‘The lea’ .
The Waring family virtually ended their residency at the Lea on the death of Thomas’s son Edmond Warings in 1625, and other tenants such as James Wright carried on the place in diminished glory.
William Bayley an attorney of Clements Inn had lived there and the Parish Register records his death on 10th December, 1602, describing him ‘Mr William Bayley of the Lea’.
No!.. regretfully I don’t have a drawing of the Lea, but this was a former moated estate from a similar period, Elston Hall Bushbury.
Now regarding the Lea:
Information taken from articles of the day tell us a Mr Francis Keeling was here in December 1652 when his son was baptized.
The hearth tax of 1666 found John Wright comfortably housed with eight chimneys.
Yet a John Pearson was ‘of the Lea’ in June 1675 cited in the Parish Register of Baptisms. and Jane Beech died here in 1675.
It was advertized for sale on 20th May 1790 as a very desirable Freehold Estate. Consisting of a capital messuage pretty much in decay, with a Barn, Beast sheds, and some other buildings belonging there too.
Together with 74 acres 2 roods 29 perches (little more or less) of very good meadow and pasture within half a mile of the town of Wolverhampton, being the Lea Hall Farm.
It was bought then by John Jesson owner of the next estate (Graiseley) for £5.000 and descended to his heirs James and Thomas Perry.
Now a house of one form or another existed until at least the 1840’s, as seen on the Tithe map of 1842 – at this time farmed by a Mr Ash.
A churchwarden Mr R. P. Walker, in February 1879, is noted as saying,
“I find that Lea hall was situate at the end of what is now called Lear Lane, near to Graiseley House. (Not to be mistaken for Graisley Old Hall). There is now nothing left above ground of the ancient house except portions of the foundation and part of what was evidently the Moat. Some cottages are now standing on the site. I have been told by the present tenant of the land that the property has been left to Colonel R. Dyott for life and after to Mrs P. Herrick widow of W.P.Herrick who inherited from the Perry’s.”
There now only remains the task of pointing out the original position of ‘The Lea’ and through the kindness of the late Mr George Green, Borough Engineer it has been possible to do this in a most effective way.
The Map which accompanies this account is composed of an urban plan of 1919 superimposed on a rural plan of the same place of 1871. The relative positions of Graseley (or Graisley) and the Penn Road will be noticed.
As you can see on the map, the Lea and Barn Brook is an area between Owen Road and Dalton Street – Broomy Piece alongside Oaklands Road – BrickKiln Meadow across Lonsdale Road- The meadow across Claremont Road – Slang Gate Piece/ Barn Croft / and Well Piece are adjacent to Graiseley and the Old Hall.
So it appears after all this evidence householders today in Dalton Street and Manlove Street alongside Lea Road, have unknowingly succeeded to the romance of misty ages, and who knows what they may unearth digging deep in their back gardens, perhaps even evidence of an ancient moat.