|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:
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.
|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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Basaltic rocks at Powk Hill.
|There are several "Laccoliths" in this
district, and many examples of sheets of Green Rock.
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.
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