Grimshaw Hall

1560 - 1765

Grimshaw Hall lies on a loop of Hampton Road created when the road was straightened.  Originally it was close to the road, which has now become a private drive.  The house is an elaborately timbered yeoman farmhouse, dating from about 1560 and is a fine example of Elizabethan domestic architecture.  It is built in an E shape in honour of the Queen, with two wings and a central hall.  The elaborate timbering is similar to that at Blakesley Hall and Milverton House, which was only in use for a short time.  The tall chimneys are typical of their era.

The house is named after the Grimshaw family, who seem to have arrived in Knowle in the mid 16tth century – over a hundred years before the Parish Registers start in 1682.  As they are all called either Richard or Nicholas, a family tree is difficult to establish with certainty.  The Grimshaws were wealthy yeoman farmers and possibly somewhat impetuous.  They lived here for over a hundred years.

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Nancy Grimshaw’s graffiti in one of the windows.

Nos. 96-98 Kenilworth Road, thought to be built on land given by Richard Grimshaw.

Two well known stories concern the family of a Richard Grimshaw in the early 18th century.  He had six children including Fanny and Nancy. On Nancy’s 16th birthday their father gave them each a horse.  Fanny’s was a chestnut and Nancy’s a dapple grey; they raced for a diamond ring. Nancy won and on one of the old greenish glass panes in the hall window, scratched  with a diamond, are the words “Nancy Grimshaw Fanny Grimshaw My gray has got ye day”.

Nancy is thought to have run away and married beneath her. The famous ghost of Grimshaw Hall is believed to be Fanny.  She is said to have been too flirtatious at a ball and allowed herself to be driven home by one of her admirers.  Her lover rode after them, pushed his way into her bedroom and killed her in a fit of jealousy.  He then raced down the stairs to deal with his rival, who had jumped into his coach and driven away; he spent the next two years evading his pursuer. The galloping horses and rattling coach wheels could be heard every now and again, and Fanny was often seen in the house in her ball dress, weeping and wringing her hands.

A Richard who lived in Bakers Lane and died in 1690 is buried in Knowle Church.  He bequeathed a cottage and orchard for the benefit of the poor of Knowle.  Five cottages in Golden End reputed to be on this site are still administered by Knowle United Charities.  Richard’s youngest daughter and heiress married Benjamin Palmer of Olton Hall; her son, another Benjamin Palmer, bought the Knowle Hall Estate in 1754.

The family disappears from the records with the death of another Richard in 1765, when the property passed to a cousin; it was subsequently purchased by Thomas Willcox.

Grimshaw Hall, before restoration.

A loop in the road, now the private drive to the hall.

Click here for Grimshaw Hall after 1765