September 9, 2006
New Hall, Sutton Coldfield
If you’re ever in the Birmingham area, you should definitely go see New Hall, a historic manor house, hotel and host of many weddings and private parties. In fact, New Hall is reputed to be the oldest surviving moated manor house in England, having been inhabitted from around the 12th century. As a result it boasts a rich history, surviving Norman invasions, the War of the Roses, and the transfer from royal to private property. One particularly noteworthy feature is what is called the Great Chamber. There is a very interesting story behind this room:
Henry Sacheverall (not to be confused with the Jacobite Dr. Henry Sacheverall) purchased the estate in 1590 and passed it on to his son, who eventually passed it on to the grandson George Sacheverall. But in the mean time, apparently the young George fell in love with his sister and was severely punished by being locked in the dining room for several months, to cure him of his lovelust. During his imprisonment in the room, having plenty of time for contemplation, he wrote short Latin epitaphs in the lead glass windows, using the diamond on his ring. Each of these phrases is signed and dated and remain on the windows of the Great Room (some of which have been translated and posted on one wall). Most of them are very clever little phrases concerning love and loss, even raising some question as to who was the pursuer and the pursued…
This was not the only time that the house was used as a prison. Later, in the 18th century, the unrelated Doctor Henry Sacheverall took up residence in the house and was there imprisoned for his Jacobite leanings.
We had the good fortune of being there for the wedding of my brother-in-law and his bride. Needless to say, it was magical.