Thursday, July 24, 2008

Solihull, England - my lesson for today.

I met a real nice couple at work. They were around my age and the lady was wearing a tee shirt with Sollihull, England on the front. I said, “Hey, that’s from my part of the world.” Solihull is only six or seven miles from where I grew up. She was English and her husband American, a retired USAF chap who was stationed in England where he met his wife. I told them Gregg had been on an exchange tour with the Royal Navy, being USN at the time. Finding this common bond we chatted quite a while about the old days. By the time they left we were like old friends and they told me they were going to come in again and asked me the days I worked, a very pleasant interlude in an otherwise very busy day.

I looked up the history of Solihull afterwards. That’s what I do and was my lesson for the day, whenever I meet anyone I go to the Internet that evening. It is a way of refreshing my knowledge on places my memory is getting fuzzy on, and also if I meet anyone from an area I am not familiar with, I have fun finding out about it. I try to fill my mind with something new every day. Of course it will probably spill out somewhere down the road but in the meantime, here’s something I found out about Solihull.

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"The town of Solihull was founded in the 12th Century, when the de Limesi family, who had come to Britain with William the Conqueror, were given large estates in the area in return for their service to the Norman king. In around 1180, John de Limesi planned a town along the existing crossroads of the roads between Warwick and Birmingham and Coventry and Worcester. Solihull's name derives from the Anglo-Saxon and means 'soiley hill'. The town grew at these crossroads, which were at the top of a forested hill. At the time, the small town was surrounded by the Forest of Arden, but unfortunately, most of the forest was chopped down hundreds of years ago and the outskirts of Solihull are now mostly farmland.

The successor of the de Limesi family, Lord William de Odingsells, applied for and received a royal charter from the King of the time, Henry III. Beginning that year, 1242, the charter allowed de Odingsells to hold an annual fair and weekly market in the town. Many occupants of older local villages, such as Hampton in Arden and Bickenhill, also used this market so it was very important.

Solihull at this point in time had a valuable metal industry and was becoming more important. Therefore the lord built a new church, St Alphege, of red sandstone to replace the small one at the top of the hill. This was in 1270 and the church still stands by the High Street today. Also still in place are the old Manor House, built in around 1495, and Jarvis International Hotel, part of which is in a 16th Century building. Malvern Hall, now part of St Martin's School, was built in about 1690.

During the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham was becoming quite a dirty and unsanitary city to live in. Many Birmingham workers moved to Solihull to live and only travelled to Birmingham to work. This made the town grow quickly.

Solihull has played a small part in all periods of history since its beginning. Legions of the Roman Army, travelling all over England and Wales, rested at Meriden. Anglo Saxons hunted in the area and Norman traders travelled the local area between commercial centres. William Shakespeare was from Stratford-upon-Avon, only a few miles from the town."

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When I was at school I remember my history lessons on the Industrial Revolution and I couldn't stand them. Now I think I actually might be able to take something in and not be quite as bored with it all. Never too late to learn is it?

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