Oak House, West Bromwich
Tucked into urban streets of terraced houses, this timber-framed building was once the home of farmers and merchants. It dates from the very late Tudor/early Stuart era but there seems to be no record of its earliest years. By 1634 it was home to the Turton family and their successors, the Whyleys, were in residence until 1837. As the Turtons’ wealth grew through their nail-making and money-lending businesses the house was enlarged and improved. There are formal gardens at the front while the later brick-built rear faces a wider landscape including barns. Inside there’s a large kitchen opposite a suite of panelled rooms that been used for living, dining, offices and sleeping. Moving from room to room through low doorways and narrow staircases it’s easy to see that the house has had a few makeovers. Oak House was bought by Reuben Farley, a local politician, and he donated it to the town of West Bromwich as a museum in 1898. There is a suggestion he bought it as a home in keeping with his wealth and status but realised it wasn’t actually a very comfortable place to live. The house has been well looked after since then and in recent years the barns and grounds have been restored as well.