|The Trust School at Yardley|
On a wet day at the end of July 2013 we visited my former ancestral home of Yardley, once in Worcestershire, then in Warwickshire, now firmly placed within the suburbs of Birmingham. My research to date indicates that my great x 3 grandfather, Joseph Hopkins, was baptised in Yardley in 1817, the son of Thomas, a farmer, and Sarah Hopkins.
I was born in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, but settled in Suffolk around ten years ago. I think I have been spoilt by my new country living. When I visit villages in Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire much looks unchanged and the character of the original villages, for the main part, remains the same. Birmingham, in contrast, is an ever expanding beast. Long after the industrial revolution and the back-to-back house living it continues to grow and absorb the surrounding area, so much so that much of Yardley looks as though it is part of the city now. There does, however, remain a beautiful Conservation Area which includes the old Trust School, next to the parish church of St Edburgha.
Yardley is one of those parish churches for which the graveyard can be a real disappointment to the family historian: the grave stones were removed in 1959. Thankfully a record was made of the monumental inscriptions and the position of each grave in the graveyard and I found the lady at the Parish Office very helpful when I made enquiries a few years ago. I have found at least an entry for my great x 4 grandmother, Sarah Hopkins, who is buried not far from the tree in the centre of the picture below.
|The Graveyard at St Edburgha, Yardley|
Whilst in Yardley we also managed a visit to the fabulous Blakesley Hall. The pictures here do not do it justice, but more images may be found on their Website.
|Blakesley Hall, Yardley|
Blakesley Hall was built by the Smalbroke family in 1590 and was passed down the family until it was sold in 1899. From 1768-1849 it was home to tenant farmers, the Hopkins, and I was delighted to find them mentioned in the entrance hall exhibit and guidebook.
|The Great Parlour, Blakesley Hall|
I would love to tell you that these Hopkins were "my" line but alas, Thomas was tenant farmer at Field House Farm on the other side of the parish, now long gone. By my estimation Thomas Hopkins was the second cousin to the tenant of Blakesley Hall so I have only a very distant link to this splendid home.
If you live in the Midlands and are looking for somewhere to visit, Blakesley Hall it is well worth a visit. My 6-year old was particularly happy to find a set of questions for children in each room, as well as the notes for the grown-ups, and an opportunity to make her own brass rubbings with crayons.