History of Warley Woods.

Warley Abbey


Warley woods has been an integral part of growing up in Smethwick and the surrounding area for over 90 years. Yet many people do not know how old the park actually is. Records of the park can be dated back to 1066 when it was part of the township of Warley Salop.
The Warley estate as it is more widely known was created with a marriage of John Warley and Frances Middlemore in 1576. The estate stayed in the Warley family until 1792 when it was purchased by Samuel Galton II and his wife Lucy Barclay .They employed the celebrated landscape architect Humphrey repton to create a setting befitting his new home which was to be built. Although repton was successful in implementing his plans for the parkland the family did not agree with the plans for the house and bought in scottish designer Robert Lugar insted.The house was completed and was called Warley hall, later known as Warley Abbey.
Following the Galton family the house was owned by many people until in the early 1900's a committee was set up due to concern the park would be sold to developers. A deal was struck to allow the committee to buy the woods with public money and the rest made up by Birmingham Council.
Over the years since then the abbey housed refugees and was a meeting place for people to sit and enjoy a cup of tea and a cake.Unfortunately nothing of historical impoprtance survives , The Abbey , greenhouses, Tor,ice house and gardens have all gone.
There is now some hope for the wood as it has been taken over by Warley Woods community trust after a long drawn out legal process.

The ghosts

Over the many years the woods have been the setting for many stories and tales, here are the most common ones.

The Grey Lady.
This lady is often seen walking around the woods, most often near where the Abbey once stood. Dressed all in grey, she is often seen by people who are using the woods as a shortcut late of a night. Rumour has it that her lover was killed in a war and she is waiting for him to return home.

The Soldier

This young man has been seen walking towards where the abbey once stood. It is not as prevelant as the others.He is apparently dressed in a red uniform , some say it is a civil war uniform. Could he be the soldier she is waiting for ?

The Chinese Man

This is a strange one.This story has been around for as long as I can remember. There are the ruins of a gamekeepers cottage in the woods.In fact only the foundations remain. According to local tales an old lady lived here and she had a chinese man who helped her with the chores and fetching wood etc...
When he died, we don't know how, he continued to work round the house and has been seen around that area.

Sam Whitehouse

This case involves that of a murder and betrayal of friends. Sam Whitehouse was murdered on his way home from the local tavern and was riding home on horseback when he was jumped ,robbed of a substantial amount of money and then killed. His two friends were accused of the murder but not enough evidence could be found.Could his ghost still roam around the water tower area of the woods ?

Over the years many people have lost their lives in and around the woods. This could explain some of the stories that are told about sightings of ghosts in the woods.

If you are reading this and have seen something yourself or know a story I could add , please contact me through the site or forum, we would love to hear from you....

Scene of The Grey Lady sightings.

2nd view of fountain

The foundations of the cottage

view of woods

View of Warley Woods