The Village Green
The settlement of Kingswinford is the first entry in the Staffordshire Domesday Book where it is recorded as 'Swinford'. Before the Norman conquest however, Swinford was owned by King Edward. 'King' was added sometime after 1086 to differentiate the village from other Swinford's and, in particular, the nearby Oldswinford.
These additions were usually made by the new Norman Lords. Swinford literally means Swineford and almost certainly originated from the crossing of the stream (now called Dawley Brook) which flows past the church and through the old village centre. Part of this old centre (The Village) remains and visitors are often surprised to find the remnants of the village green with some very old buildings including a pub, a row of cottages and, of course, the church.
The 12th century Church of St.Mary has a Norman tympanum carving of St.Michael slaying the dragon set in the wall above the vestry door and, in addition, a Norman tower which was restored in the 17th century. In the churchyard there is a stone pillar believed to be the shaft of a medieval preaching cross where the decisions and sentences made and passed by the Court Leet at the Old Court House were publicly announced.
Kingswinford has many fine villas which were built for the 18th century glassmakers and ironmasters who made their fortunes during this part of the industrial revolution. At the junction of Summer Hill and Swindon Road stands Summerhill House which dates from 1756. The brick mansion is now a hotel.
Another fine example is Broadfield House in Barnett Lane. A large mansion with five bays and a porch of unfluted Ionic columns, Broadfield House is now used as a glass museum and displays a selection of the region's historic glass. Although in a quiet backwater, the museum attracts visitors from all over the world. Its fine collection of ornate glasswear extends to all corners of the globe and the exhibit stock is such that it is regularly changed.
As its name suggests this was a royal estate. The scattered communities of this parish gleaned what they could from an area sandwiched between Pensnett Chase and the Forest of Kinver. The original village centre was close to the Church of St Mary. The Court House (now a Pub) and the Village Pound still stands close by.
The Chase, as a source of minerals and iron-ore deposits, was mined as early as the 13th century. The township of Brierley Hill, Pensnett and Quarry Bank owe their origins to the settlements of miners and charcoal burners within the area.
With the arrival of French glassmakers in the early 17th century Amblecote and Wordsley with Brierley Hill became centres of the Glass Industry. The Red House Cone in Wordsley is the last of the traditional glass works. Some of the finer pieces produced by this trade can be seen at the Broadfield House Glass Museum.
Kingswinford parish became part of Stourbridge Union following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.