Monday, 18 April 2011

A Ride Through History - Saracen's Head, King's Norton

Another in my irregular series to prove that the West Midlands isn't entirely devoid of culture and history, featuring notable points along my regular cycle routes around Birmingham.

This week a recently restored medieval treasure.

King's Norton is 6 miles or so south of Birmingham city centre. As the name suggests, it's a surprisingly old settlement - the church, St Nicolas', dates back to the 12th Century, although the spire is later and it was restored in the 19th Century.

In its shadow are two medieval buildings which were taken to the country's hearts five years ago when they won BBC's Restoration series.

The Saracen's Head
The Saracen's Head was originally built as a Merchant's House next to the church in 1492 (the same year Columbus famously sailed the ocean blue to 'discover' America). Next door is the Old Grammar School, possibly even older.

Both were in a terrible state and suffering from later additions and unsympathetic repairs. But after winning the competition, and the accompanying prize of £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, both have now been magnificently restored to their former glory (well, let's be honest, probably rather better than that!).

Another fascinating spot on my cycle route and a welcome break from the grime and litter!

The Saracen's Head and St Nicolas' Church, King's Norton