William Dargue A History of BIRMINGHAM Places & Placenames from A to Y
Bennetts Hill, Washwood Heath
B8 - Grid reference SP101886
This name likely derives from the surname of an 18th-century landowner. Here on Washwood Heath Road near Hutton Road was Red Hill House, a plain neo-classical country house built in 1769 by Birmingham's first historian, William Hutton.
Overlooking the Rea valley and with Birmingham only a mile distant, Bennetts Hill was an attractive spot which Hutton had often passed en route to his home town of Derby.
Hutton bought half an acre of land for £40 in 1769 and built his house there that year; the following year he had the wings built and one year later he himself planted trees around his small estate.
The house was badly damaged by fire during the Birmingham Riots of 1791. Hutton and his family stayed at Vauxhall before buying a small cottage at Bennetts Hill where they remained until their own house was repaired. They moved back in 1784. See 1791 Birmingham Riots.
William Hutton died 20 September 1815, was buried at Aston church and is commemorated by a monument at St Margaret's Church, Ward End.
Hutton's son built Bennetts Hill House on land opposite Red Hill. It was occupied by Birmingham's Councillor Herrick from 1900 until its demolition in the 1930s.
It is not easy to guess why Hutton named his house Red Hill. The soil here is a sandy gravelly glacial deposit and not the red clay that underlies much of east Birmingham.
William Dargue 09.09.2008/ 30.07.2010
For 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps of Birmingham go to British History Online.