If you know Edgbaston well, you’ll doubtless remember Hornton Grange. A striking red-brick building surrounded by gardens, its been through many guises over the years: from family home to wedding venue.
With just a few short weeks until it fully reopens as part of Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre, take a look back at its history.
Grand homes for grand families
Both Garth House and Hornton Grange joined the millionaire’s row of Edgbaston Park Road at the peak of its prestige as a residential area, either side of the First World War.
They were the last of the great private houses to be built along Edgbaston Park Road by leading symbols of Birmingham’s business community, and their owners were determined to match the standards which had been set by houses like Meadowcroft and Winterbourne.
It was built in 1928 for Albert Morton Patrick, a life assurance inspector who moved from King’s Heath, but who stayed only five years. The house was grand and spacious, boasting in 1933 sale notices in The Times and Country Life seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, two maids’ rooms, four reception rooms and a billiard-room. In the grounds stood a 25-foot square garage with chauffeur’s quarters, a gardener’s lodge house, an orchard, rose garden and tennis courts. Naturally there was central heating and (still a novelty in the 1920s) electricity throughout. Six staff and their families were permanently on site.
It was home to two more prominent business families until 1969, and shortly after was bought by the University, as part of the broad campus expansion of the 1960s and 70s.
Hornton Grange became the home of the Careers Service for nearly twenty years from 1973. The architecture, fixtures and fittings remained almost unaltered. As a result, staff conducted long practice interviews in spacious oak-panelled rooms on comfortable easy chairs whilst squirrels watched from the windowsills.
However, Hornton Grange was never designed as a careers centre, and it proved increasingly impractical. The kitchen had to double as a photocopying room; the large bedroom upstairs was used to show videos, run workshops and host introductory talks to groups of undergraduates; and the garage and chauffeur’s accommodation had been given over from the start to the Institute for Public Health as a laboratory.
As student numbers grew it became impossible to conduct interviews with employers. Hornton Grange reverted to its original role, offering hospitality and accommodation – now to guests and visitors to the University.
After a period of closure, Hornton Grange is at last returning to that role in grand style, as a boutique addition to Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre.
Six impeccable deluxe bedrooms offer luxury and charm, with bespoke furniture and botanical touches to the décor. The house now also boasts a stunning extension: the Lloyd Room, named for the pioneering obstetrician Dame Hilda Lloyd. Framing the lawn, its striking skylight and floor-to-ceiling windows make it a dramatic setting for for large meetings, conferences, celebrations and weddings.