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24 September 2014

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August 2004
Kings Norton wins Restoration!
The Old Grammar School, Kings Norton
The Old Grammar School in Kings Norton

The Old Grammar School and Saracen's Head in Kings Norton are the winners of Restoration 2004!

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BBC Restoration homepage

BBC Restoration - The Old Grammar School

Trash or treasure?

Newman Brothers Coffin Factory - Restoration 2003

Kings Norton Parish Restoration site
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The Old Grammar School and Saracen's Head date from the 15th Century.

It is believed that Queen Henrietta Maria stayed at the Saracen's Head one night in 1643.

In its prime, The Old Grammar School was one of the best known in the Midlands - it's most famous headmaster was puritanical Protestant Thomas Hall.

After winning the series the two buildings will now receive over £3 million towards their restoration.

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Viewers voted for the eight shortlisted buildings in the live Restoration 2004 final at Hampton Court Palace on Sunday 8 August. The Old Grammar School and Saracen's Head beat off stiff competition from Newbridge Memorial Hall in Wales, Knockando Wool Mill, in Scotland and others to become the 2004 winner.

The future for the two buildings now looks rosy - the Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged £2.5 million towards restoring the winning buildings, provided that they fulfil the conditions set by the Trustees of The Restoration Fund.

Over 750,000 votes were cast in the final public phone poll to decide the winner, with the Birmingham buildings securing a narrow victory.

arrowSee our gallery of the two historic buildings


Last year's Restoration series received around 2.3 million votes and raised £3.5m towards the restoration of The Victoria Baths in Manchester.

The Saracen's Head

The old sign of the Saracen's Head

This year the Midlands heat saw the two Birmingham buildings beat Newstead Abbey in
Ravenshead and Bawdsey Radar Station, to clinch a place in the series final.

The Old Grammar School and The Saracen's Head stand on Kings Norton village green along with a 12th Century church.

The Old Grammar School

Dating from the 15th Century, The Old Grammar School is one of the oldest in the midlands. The timber-framed structure that has sadly fallen into decay and is on English Heritage's "at risk" register.

The school's most famous headmaster was Thomas Hall, a puritanical Protestant who took up the post in 1629. Upon his death, his legacy to the country was one of the largest libraries in the land (now housed in Birmingham Central Library).

After continuing as a school for two hundred more years, the building fell into neglect at the beginning of the 19th century. Repairs were made in 1910 when a new external staircase was put in and again in 1951 after vandalism and further decay had taken their toll.

The Saracen's Head

The Saracen's Head

The Saracen's Head

Dating from 1492, The Saracen's Head was originally a Wool Merchants. Extensions were added to the building in later years and it housed a row of medieval shops.

The building has its place in Royal history, as it is believed that Queen Henrietta Maria once stayed there. On the night of July 10 in 1643, she travelled from Yorkshire to Oxford in the midst of the English Civil War, spending the night in Kings Norton. One of the rooms in the building is now called 'The Queen's Room' to mark this.

The building became an inn sometime during the early 19th Century, remaining so until it was given to the local church by the brewery in 1930.

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