Construction on the hall began on April 16, 1618, when Sir Thomas Holte moved in. The structure was completed in April 1635 and is now Grade I listed. It’s situated within a vast park. Villa Park, which was formerly part of it, is the home ground for Aston Villa football club.
An assault by Parliamentary soldiers in 1643 badly damaged the house. The scars are still visible, and a cannonball went through a glass and an unlocked door, as well as smashing through the banister.
The Holte family, who had owned the property since before 1750, sold it to James Watt Jr., the son of industrial pioneer James Watt, in 1817. In 1858, an unnamed privately held business (the Aston Hall and Park Company Ltd) acquired the house for use as a park with museum.
The home was acquired from Birmingham Corporation in 1864, when he was experiencing money difficulties. In 1864, the city purchased the house from Birmingham Corporation, becoming the first historical country mansion to be transferred into its hands.
Washington Irving visited Aston Hall, and he named it Bracebridge Hall, after Abraham Bracebridge, the husband of the last Holte family member who resided there.
Irving’s The Sketch Book tales chronicled the lovely and peaceful English Christmas events he witnessed at Aston Hall, which had been on the verge of being abandoned.
Aston Hall’s custom of giving their staff an allowance on Christmas Eve, according to The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1795, was as follows: “The servants are allowed to drink, dance, sing, and go to bed when they choose.”
After a fire damaged the city’s public library and the Birmingham and Midlands Institute, which shared the same building on Paradise Street, until the construction of the current Art Gallery in Council House, Birmingham’s art collection, as well as the Museum of Arms, were transferred to Aston Hall from 1878.
A major refurbishment took place in 1891, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
The hall now also contained collections owned by the Natural History Society of Birmingham and the Warwickshire Archaeological Society.
In 1981, Aston Hall finally opened its doors to everyone as a museum. It was one of the first museums in Birmingham to close in 2012, for a major refurbishment.
The museum closed on February 28, 2012, until October 13 after more than £2 million was spent on its renovation.
An exhibition called the Hall of Curiosities has been created from objects already housed at the museum. The collection is made up of items that have been donated by Birmingham residents. Items on display include a crocodile skull and an Egyptian mummy, which was gifted to the museum in 1891 by Colonel Alan Bloom Reeves. A pair of Victorian shoes dating back to 1840 is also on show in one of the rooms. check out this article