A History of Shelfield
It could be said that Shelfield is one of Pelsall's closest neighbours. Shelfield sits right next to High Heath, Pelsall.
In 1276 Shelfield was called a hamlet and by 1317 it was said to have three common fields.
Shelfield was listed as a settlement on maps dated 1682 and 1775.
The 1775 map suggests a dispersed settlement. One nucleus is around a triangular green and this area is marked as Shelfield on the tithe map of 1843.
Shelfield Lodge which was originally a medieval hall house stood in this area in 1276.
The centre of Shelfield was at the junction of Mill Road, Field Lane and Birch Lane which is where Shelfield Lodge farm once stood.
Another manor of Shelfield is mentioned in 1554 suggesting that a settlement did exist in this area before the Norman conquest.
Despite Shelfield Lodge having such a long and I would imagine, an interesting history, there is little to be found about it. However, I was fortunate enough some years ago to be put in touch with Mr S R Jones FSA, who in 1954 was granted permission from the owner of Shelfield Lodge to take photographs of the outside of the building. Regrettably, the then owner refused to allow Mr S R Jones FSA to take photographs of the inside of this very historic building, hence we will never know what the inside of Shelfield Lodge looked like.
As far as I am aware, these are the only photographs which were ever taken of Shelfield Lodge.
Photograph © Mr S R Jones FSA
Shelfield Lodge Farm, Mill Road, High Heath, Pelsall 1954
In 1954, Shelfield Lodge Farm, was an 18th century house which incorporated
the remains of a late medieval hall.
Some years later, I received a message from someone from Texas who had been doing some research about Shelfied Lodge in connection with their family history research.
Within the research he shared with me, I discovered the following article about Shelfield Lodge:
A Tragic Accident
A sad and fatal event, and one which adds another to the instances of the loss of human life by the incautious use of firearms, which are unhappily so frequent, has occurred at Shelfield Lodge near Walsall, the residence of Mrs Harrison.
A young female name Jane Collier was killed on Tuesday last by a gun-shot wound, under the following circumstances, which we derive from the evidence taken on as inquisition held at the Four Crosses, Shelfield, upon view of the body, before Henry Smith Esq. coroner, and respectable Jury.
It appears, from the statement of Amelia Mason, that Mrs Harrison had been for several days on a visit to her daughter in the neighbourhood of Stourbridge; her brother (Mr Grove), Jane Collier, a dress maker, who had been at work for her for about a week, George Lote, a servant boy almost sixteen years of age, the witness and another female servant being left at home.
Between two and three o’clock on Tuesday afternoon the three females were a dinner in the kitchen, when Lote came in and asked for some milk for the dog, which he fetched out of the dairy, and shortly afterwards returned swearing, and said the dog had knocked it out of the milk pan; he then reached down a gun and said he would shoot the dog, asking Jane Collier to go with him to open the door of the outbuilding in which the dog was, but she refused.
In three or four minutes after witness went out of the kitchen into the yard, carrying some dishes, which she intended to take into the Brewhouse, when she saw Lote in the fold-yard standing opposite to her, with the gun in his hand; he said laughing, “Ann, I’ll shoot you” Witness told him she would throw the dishes down if he did not take the gun away.
On this she turned her head round and observed Jane Collier standing near to the pump, with a cloth and some soap in her hand for the purpose of washing herself; witness then went into the brew-house, and while there, Lote having come into the back yard, she heard him say, apparently in joke, “Miss Collier, I’ll shoot you;” to which she replied, “George, I’ll stand to be shot then;” and something else was said by each, but she did not hear distinctly what, and instantly the gun was discharged, Lote at the same time exclaiming, “O Lord!”
Witness immediately came to the Brewhouse door and saw the unfortunate girl lying dead upon the pavement; she never spoke, groaned, stirred, but was killed instantly.
Lote ran up the fold yard towards the lane, and the gun was left reared against the dairy wall. On an alarm being given several women came, and ultimately Mr Grove with Lote arrived.
On witness telling the women how the affair happened, as already stated, Lote declared she was not telling the truth, and also denied the conversation she had related to have passed between him and the deceased, and said that he was going in at the kitchen door with the gun in his hand, when it went off and shot Miss Collier, who was walking behind him.
Mr Henry East Grove in his examination stated that on Tuesday between one and two o’clock he left the house, taking Lote with him, for the purpose of cutting a little turf at about half a mile distant; when they had got about a hundred yards down the lane they met a cow belonging to Mrs Harrison, which he sent Lote back with to tie up in the cowhouse, and desired him to return as quickly as he could; in about twenty minutes afterwards he came back and said, “Mr Grove, I have hurt or shot my hand with a gun,” at the same time as holding it out; it bled considerably; he then said that Miss Collier was shot; hesitated at the questions that were put to him respecting the accident, and did not give any satisfactory answer, but seemed frightened and hurt.
Witness hastened home, taking Lote with him, and on their way they met a girl who, on being asked if she had heard of Miss Collier being shot, replied, “She is shot dead;” on which Lote fell down and exclaimed, “Oh! Pick me up,” he was, however, left and in the afternoon was taken into custody.
The gun, which witness saw in the fold-yard when he got home, was afterwards removed, and could not be found till on the Friday morning, the day to which an adjournment to the inquest took place, when it was delivered to Mr Grove by an old female servant of Mrs Harrison's, and it appears that the mother of the deceased had concealed it under a bed.
Mr Thomas Pitt, surgeon, of Walsall, who examined the corpse, described the wound, from the effects of which the death of the girl must have been instantaneous, the contents of the gun having passed through the left eye, which was completely blown out, into the brain.
Having made himself acquainted with the manner in which the accident occurred, witness asked Lote, whose hand was injured, how he held the gin when it went off; he replied it was resting upon his left arm, his right hand being placed upon the lock, and in that position it exploded, and that he stood facing the kitchen door, the deceased being at or near the pump; if, the witness said, the prisoner was holding the gun in the position described by him, and it then exploded, the contents would strike the deceased if standing at the time in the situation mentioned, the barrel of the gun being a long one the muzzle would nearly touch the face of the deceased, who was of short stature.
Two of the women who went to Mrs Harrison’s on hearing of the accident, were next examined, and to one of them Lote, after denying the expressions which Amelia Mason persisted in were used by himself and Miss Collier immediately before the accident, said the words he used were these, “Miss Collier, if the gun had been charged I might have shot you;” to which she replied she was not afraid; that he was scraping his shoes to go into the kitchen, having the gun over his left arm, with his right hand upon the lock, when it went off by accident; that he did not know it was charged; that he had reached the gun down for the purpose, as he pretended, of shooting the dog but that his real motive was to frighten the girls.
After a re-capitulation of the evidence by the Coroner, the Jury returned a verdict to the effect, that the gun, while in the hands of George Lote, was by some means, at present un-known, discharged, whereby Jane Collier was accidentally killed, and a deodund of thirty shillings was fixed upon the gun.
This article appeared in the Wolverhampton Chronicle on
2nd June 1830
Photograph © Mr S R Jones FSA
This extremely rare and fascinating photograph taken in 1954 shows the remains of a late medieval hall on the opposite side of the building.
By 1960, Shelfield Lodge Farm was hidden behind two large barns which stood on the roadside as seen in the photograph below.
Photograph above courtesy of Pelsall History Centre
Prior to its demolition, the Brawn family had been tenants of Shelfield Lodge Farm for generations. At this point, Shelfield Lodge Farm was owned by Mr Barnett of Pelsall.
In 1881 Samuel Brawn, aged 33 was the Head Farmer of 210 acres,
employing 12 men, 7 women and 3 boys.
Regrettably, despite its great historical significance, Shelfield Lodge Farm was demolished in 1961.
Long before the new houses were built in 1961, an ancient brook flowed where the gardens of the first houses ended and an old well remained in place.
Today, there is no evidence that the brook or the well existed at all.