This is an article from the August 1908 edition of the Wolverhampton Journal. The article refers to Pouk Hill, spelling it Powk Hill, as it is pronounced.

On a recent Saturday afternoon the Club visited Bentley Hall, midway between Willenhall and Walsall, and Powk Hill, about a mile away, when the following papers were read:

Bentley Hall

We are told that the Manor of Bentley is not mentioned in Domesday, and it was probably at that date, waste, and in the King's hands. William I granted it to one "Drew," alias "Gervase," by the service of keeping the "Haye." This family assumed the name of "Benetleye," and continued here for many generations.

Not far from the present building is still to be seen an ancient moat, the site probably of this early structure. Roger de Benetleye flourished. John and Henry III was succeeded by his son, also Roger, who granted by Charter to William Rufus, of Waterhale, his "land, wood, and Water at Benetlei for one pair of white gloves yearly." He left several sons, of whom William inherited his estate at Bentley. In the time of Henry III (1239-40), Thomas of Darlaston granted the watercourses between Darlaston and Bentley to this William for the purpose of making a mill. The Manor of Bentley he held as a feudal tenant, and his life seems to have been an eventful one, for his name is met in many suits of this period, and in 1269 he is prosecuted for carrying off cattle. He married Isabella and died in 1276, having an heir, John, a minor, and three of his brothers, as custodians of his territory. The brothers, however, betrayed their trust, and, with two of their grooms, were convicted of deer stealing and committed to prison.

From the Bentleys the estate came to the Griffiths of Wichnor, and from this family to that of Lone or Lane. The present occupier is Mrs. Walker, widow of the late Mr. S. H. Walker. Nothing remarkable seems to have taken place here until the month of September, 1651. At this time there was living here an old lady, Mrs. Lane, who had a son, Col. John Lane, and a daughter, Jane Lane. A married niece named Norton was living at Abbotsleigh, near Bristol. The larger portion of this fine old mansion has since been pulled down and replaced by the present modern structure, which though handsome and commodious, does not of course possess the historic interest of the earlier. With its ornamented gables, projections, and large windows, Bentley House presented a very imposing front.

Bentley Hall.

Wednesclay morning, the 10th September, 1651, was cold and dark. Between one and two o'clock three horsemen approached this Hall from the direction of Moseley Hall, some five or six miles distant.

One was Major Careless, another Colonel Lane, and the third a young man, a little over 21 years' old.

He was enveloped in a long cloak which served the double purpose of keeping the wearer warm and hiding his identity. On this young man's head there was set a price of £ 1,000, a large sum of money in those days. Who was he? Let us follow him into the Hall after he has dismounted.

We find he is disguised in a country fellow's habit with a pair of ordinary grey cloth breeches and a leathern doublet and a green jerkin, together with a coarse noggin shirt. He passes by the name of "Will Jones." His face and hands are blackened with soot from the back of the chimney and his skin is stained with walnut leaves. His hair, which had apparently been long, was cut and notched short in a very unskilful manner, his shoes he had been obliged to cast away to ease his feet, which were cut and blistered with thorns and stones. And yet this young man was of Royal descent, in fact, himself a King, hiding from his enemies who two years and eight months previously had cut off his father's head! The man, as I have already said, was known by the name of Will Jones, but he was in reality Charles II, then the uncrowned King of England.

This Hall was one of the places that afforded him shelter and concealment after the disastrous battle (to him) of Worcester, on 3rd September, 1651. He came here after a sojourn of three days at Moseley Hall. Of that visit I may tell you something when we go to Moseley Hall. A married niece of the Lanes named Norton was living at Abbots Leigh, near Bristol, and arrangements had been made, with the friends, for Charles to stay here till morning and then continue his journey in the direction of Bristol with Jane Lane to visit her cousin.

After he had eaten and conferred with Lord Wilmot and Colonel Lane about his intended journey next morning, he went to bed, where we are told by a quaint writer, he rested not long, being called up by the Colonel at break of day, who taking away his leathern doublet and patched grey breeches, now clothed him with a suit and cloak of country grey cloth, like a holiday suit of a farmer's son, putting £20 in his pocket, to bear the charges of his journey. Being thus accoutred after he had refreshed himself and taken leave of Lord Wilmot, he was conducted by the Colonel down a back way into the stable, where, after a few instructions how to act the part of a tenant's son (which they thought a quality more convenient for their intention than that of a direct servant) he brought the horse to the gate, with his hat under his arm, having now assumed the name of William Jackson and took up Mrs. (Miss) Jane Lane behind him in company with Mr. Henry Lassells, Mr. Peter and his wife (the Colonel's sister), who were then accidently at his house and were now going homewards to Long Marston, they took their journey towards Stratford, taking leave of Bentley.

Colonel Lane had obtained from Captain Henry Stone a pass for his sister Jane and a servant, to visit her married cousin near Bristol. The Colonel himself with Lord Wilmot and others, followed with hawks and dogs and thus the small cavalcade passed on towards Bristol.

John Darby

Powk Hill

Powk Hill is, or rather was  a small rounded hill between Willenhall and Walsall, a quarter of a mile from Bentley Hall; it is so inconspicuous a place that local passengers, travelling by the Midland Railway, rarely if ever notice it, yet it is well worthy of a visit.

It used to look somewhat like a huge mole hill some three or four hundred yards in circumference, only instead of being composed of loose earth, it was composed of a peculiarly dense, hard, dark rock, called Basalt, which often takes a remarkable columnar structure, in tall vertical shafts five or six or more sided, a foot or more in diameter, and many yards high, closely packed together by thousands, fine examples of which may be seen at the Giant's Causeway in Ireland, at Staffa in Scotland, and in many other places; indeed within the memory of the writer they were plentiful at "Powk Hill."

This Powk Hill Basalt is a rock of what is called "igneous origin," and very different to the "bedded" or stratified rock with which we are so familiar.

Beneath our feet, at a depth of 20 or 30 miles, all the rock material exists in an intensely heated condition, ready to assume a semi-liquid form if the pressure from above be somewhat relieved.

Wolverhampton naturalists' field club at Powk Hill.

Wide and deep movements of a local character in the earth's crust from time to time take place, deep fissures are formed, and the white-hot melted rock is forced upward.

It depends very much upon the conditions under which it reaches the surface what form it shall take. It may be blown up the pipes of volcanos in tremendous showers of ash, cinders, etc., or flow over the lips of craters as lava streams, or quietly ooze from small openings on the surface and form little mounds or "Laccoliths" (of which Powk Hill is an example), or be forced, and squeezed in between beds of other kinds of rock, as Intrusive Sheets of Trap Rock, of which our local "Green Rock," run in among the Lower Coal Measures, is an example.

Basaltic rocks at Powk Hill.

There are several  "Laccoliths" in this district, and many examples of sheets of Green Rock.

There is one 40 feet thick just to the East of Powk Hill; they extend from the base of the Rowley Hills to Heath Town, Wednesfield, Bentley, Bloxwich, and beyond.

They occur among the Lower Coal Measures and seem to have been formed during that period, and vary from 15 to 90 feet in thickness, and badly burn and spoil the coal beds which they come into contact with; they are mostly a hard Dolerite, a green stone very difficult to cut through.

It would be interesting to explain the columnar structure in detail, and that of the large balls which crown the columns, and some other matters, but enough has been said. For quite a century quarrying operations have been going on at Powk Hill. The hill has disappeared; where the hill was there is now a great hollow in which there are numerous heaps of hard, tough, bluish-black Basalt, traversed by white veins of

quartz, calcite, and zeolite. The columns have all been broken up for road metal, to make gutters for the sides of our streets and crossings for carts, and for other uses; indeed, the late owner of the quarry actually had a residence built of it for himself, by St. Jude's Church, and which will most likely be there when all the other houses of Wolverhampton have gone.

William Hutchinson

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