A History of Paradise Lane

When writing this article, I was rather torn with how to begin, that is from a chronological aspect or from what we see today.  After much consideration however I have decided to write this article based on what we can see today starting with Pelsall Hall.  What was considered to be the main entrance of Pelsall Hall is on Hall Lane, however the 'tradesman's' entrance as it was known by Charles family members was that which exists on Paradise Lane.

Pelsall Hall as it was in 1917

Pelsall Hall was in existence in Paradise Lane in 1616.

Pelsall Hall was occupied by the Charles family from 1785 - 1917

The Lodge, as seen above, within the grounds of Pelsall Hall used to be home to   Mr George Gregory, the Gardener and his wife Mrs Harriet Gregory the Housekeeper of Pelsall Hall who were employed by the Charles family.

The map above illustrates the position of Pelsall hall to the left, the burial ground and the few properties following in 1918

Photograph copyright A Bates - Pelsall Times

Charles family members sitting at the Paradise Lane entrance to Pelsall Hall

Mrs Charles always used to refer to this entrance as the tradesman's entrance

The first Church in Pelsall, as seen above, was built in Paradise Lane in 1311.  This Church existed where Paradise Grove is today.  The Church was said to contain a crudely painted figure of an old man holding a purse in one hand and money in the other.  Next to it was an inscription which read: Richard Johnson gave 20 groats to the poor of Pelsall earned from the Old Croft.  Aged 101.

By 1762 the Church roof had collapsed and the building had fallen into a serious state of disrepair.

In 1763 the Church was rebuilt and dedicated to St Michael and All Angels and at this time a burial ground was established.  

The first person to be buried in the newly consecrated churchyard was Edward Wiggin.

Due to these ecclesiastical connections, the field opposite to the Church was recorded as Paradise Plantation in the 1843 tithe map.

In 1843, the St Michael and All Angels Church we know today was built in Hall Lane, Pelsall.

The Village Hall 

Photograph courtesy of Mr A Weller, Pelsall History Centre

 

The Village Hall, as seen above was built by the Charles family of Pelsall Hall in 1856 and was situated on Paradise Lane, where Paradise Grove is today.  The Lodge can be seen to the right.

It is believed that the Village Hall was built directly on the foundations of 1311 Church.  The doors of the 1311 Church were said to be used as the doors to The Village Hall.

The Charles family used The Village Hall to put on entertainment for the villagers.

In 1924, The Village Hall was converted into a dining and recreation room for patients of Pelsall Hall Sanatorium.

Despite its historical significance, on Monday 25th March 1985 Pelsall Hall Recreation Room which had been greatly used as a village hall in the 20th century was demolished.

Despite protests, and much to the dismay of councillors and residents alike, the Village Hall was unceremoniously demolished in 1985.

Shortly after the demolition of The Village Hall, an ambulance training centre was built on the site.

By 2001, Pelsall Ambulance Training Centre was demolished and the current housing estate, Paradise Grove was being built.

Article above, courtesy of Mr A Weller, Pelsall History Centre

Pelsall's First Burial Ground, Paradise Lane, Pelsall as it is today in 2019

Photograph copyright A Bates - Pelsall Times

As you will see when driving or walking past, this burial ground is rather small and most historical accounts state that this burial ground was the full extent however, I do have information on the good authority of an occupant of one of the properties in Paradise Grove that when the properties were newly built and open for viewing grave stones were propped up the fence panels at the bottom of the gardens of all of the new houses.  The occupant who told me about this back in 2001 went on to say that she asked the builder to reinter the stones, however when she returned a short time later, all of the stones had been removed.  In addition to this it was also said that when some residents were gardening they unearthed what they took to be bones, which were hastily reinterred.

This of course begs the question of whether what we see today was the true extent of the burial ground which belonged to a church that had been built in 1311.  

Gravestone Photographs

Copyright A Bates - Pelsall Times

Paradise Grove is situated behind the old burial ground

In his book, Under Bluer Skies, after mentioning the Village Hall, William Farmer writes:

Next came a row of five or six houses with gardens to the rear and then the old vicarage which was a half timbered house with a thatched roof.  This was built right up to the footpath and had its own well in the garden.

The final property on that side of the road was the Village Workhouse.

Bill Farmer's Sketch of The Village Workhouse

Courtesy of Mr A Weller, Pelsall History Centre

Above: Pelsall Village Workhouse, which has been a private residence since its closure in 1834

In the early 1800's and prior, villagers who were unable to support themselves were placed here.   However following the 1834 Act, Pelsall became part of the Walsall Poor Law Union and the poor were sent to the Workhouse in Pleck Road, Walsall

In Pelsall, A Thousand Years of Village Life by Albert Tomkinson and Ann Galbraith an entry in the book relating to 1740 reads:

Provision for the poor was still grudging and a close eye was kept on anyone who might have claimed poor relief without being entitled to it.  People claimed relief in the parish in which they were born and there were many cases where attempts were made to remove a claimant out of a parish and return them to their birthplace.

In this year, 1740 Mary Shinton and her 2 week old son were in danger of being returned to Pelsall so that the folk of Pelsall would maintain her and her illegitimate child.

It is interesting to note how small Pelsall's village workhouse was, perhaps this was a deliberate deterrent.

The Rear of the Village Workhouse

Photograph courtesy of Mr A Weller, Pelsall History Centre

The Rear of the Village Workhouse

Photograph courtesy of Mr A Weller, Pelsall History Centre

Paradise House

Photograph courtesy of Mr A Weller, Pelsall History Centre

 

As William crosses the road in his book, he goes on to describe what occupied the opposite side of the road: 

Then came Paradise House with its picture of Adam and Eve over the doorway.  It was an off licence and general shop.  I remember buying woodbine cigarettes there at a penny for a packet of five, with five matches pushed in also.  England's Glory matches were threepence for a dozen boxes.  Tea was sold loose from large canisters and sugar and flour from bins.  Huge glass jars held pickled onions and you got a large basin full for threepence.

To the right of Paradise House were two cottages, one of which was once a fish and chip shop and in the other lived a widow who used to make delicious pikelets.

The Primitive Methodist Chapel, Paradise Lane, Pelsall 1853 - 1967

Then at the end of the road nearest Hall Lane was the Primitive Methodist Chapel.  William Farmer remembered that in his day, paraffin lamps hung off the walls and a primitive form of heating which consisted of two huge stoves, one on each side of the chapel.  If Sunday school class was near a stove, you got roasted, but further away it was icy cold.  At Sunday School Anniversaries staging was set up to seat the singers and the chapel was always packed with people.

Children outside of 'the Prim' (as it was affectionately known locally)