Information from evidence found by archaeologists during digs at Weoley Castle in the 1930s and 1950s.
Owners of Weoley Castle
The name comes from the Saxon Weoh-leah
meaning wood or clearing with a heathen temple.
Around 1380 came major re-building
work, although it was within the same moated area. A description
of Weoley Castle dating from 1424
gives a good idea of the buildings at this date. Click
to see the reconstruction drawing based on this description.
The lay out of the Great Hall
is thought to date from the fifteenth century.
Stone is taken from the castle to build local houses. The Stone House pub is thought to have been built with stone from Weoley Castle.
A farm is built close to the moat on the south side.
Archaeologists work on the castle in the 1930s, and again in the 1950s.
The castle is opened to the public. A small museum displays finds from the archaeological digs.
The museum is burned down and the site closed to the public for safety reasons.
There was already a building on this site when William of Normandy conquered England in 1066. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1066 as belonging to the Norman, William Fitzansculf. His daughter married into the Paganel family and their name is still remembered at Paganel Junior/Infant School nearby.
During the reign of King John in the early 1200's the de Somerys began their family's long ownership of the castle The de Somerys, barons of Dudley, acquired the castle through marriage. The family had already distinguished themselves by paying a large sum towards the ransom that was raised to free the previous king, Richard the Lionheart. Trouble in the 1260's both from disturbances along the Welsh border and amongst the barons led by Simon de Montfort, encouraged Roger de Somery to apply to Henry III for a license to add further fortifications to his castle at Weoley. The castle was considerably altered and enlarged by the de Somerys in the late 1200s and early 1300s. It was also about this time that one, John de Somery, made himself very unpopular. It was said that he 'beset men's houses for to murder them and also extorted sums of money'
In the early 1300s a Joan de Somery inherited the estate as there were no male heirs. Her marriage took the castle into the Botetourt family.
The Burnell Knights acquired Weoley Castle in the same way later in the same century. And again in the early fourteenth century, lack of a male heir led to the castle being passed to the Berkeley family.
The Berkeleys favoured the Yorkists in the Wars of the Roses. When Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth, the Berkeleys were amongst his many supporters who lost their estates. In early Tudor times Weoley Castle passed between various claimants and King Henry VIII. It eventually became one of the Dudley family possessions again.
In the 1530s, when Henry VIII was getting rid of wives and monasteries, Weoley Castle was sold to a London merchant, Richard Jervoise. His family are remembered in the name of nearby Jervoise Junior and Infant School.
But there are no records of the Jervoises living at Weoley Castle and by the 1640s when King Charles I was fighting with his Parliament in the Civil Wars, it was described as 'a ruyned castell'. During the next two centuries the castle was pulled apart. Wood and lead were taken, and stone was robbed for use in local building work.
In the early nineteenth century Weoley Castle came into the hands of the Ledsam family. The Ledsams made their money in one of the successful small metal industries in Birmingham.
The Ledsams sold what remained of Weoley Castle estate, including the castle, to Birmingham City Council in 1929. From then on the castle took on a new status as an historic ruin.