Joseph Chamberlain’s descendants meet at his former Birmingham home for an important reason

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Descendants of the Birmingham’s renowned former Victorian Mayor Joseph Chamberlain gathered at his former home in the city from across the world

Dozens of Joseph Chamberlain’s descendants and family members have met for a historical gathering amid hopes to transform his former mansion into a visitor attraction.

The momentous event was held to mark 150 years since Joseph Chamberlain was elected Mayor of Birmingham and saw family members arrive at Highbury Hall in Moseley from across the world, with some meeting for the first time.

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The city was transformed during his time as mayor, with swimming pools and libraries being built. The reforming leader was also the father of former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Austen Chamberlain, who became chancellor of the exchequer.

The family was also updated on plans to transform Highbury Hall, a  Grade II listed building which was commissioned by Joseph Chamberlain as his Birmingham residence in the 1870s. Although parts of the grand and historic building continue to be used for private functions,  there is generally no public access to the house and its unique heritage.

Joseph Chamberlain (1836 - 1914)Joseph Chamberlain (1836 - 1914)
Joseph Chamberlain (1836 - 1914) | Getty Images

Amanda Tinsley, the great-great granddaughter of Joseph Chamberlain, helped to organise the gathering, which took place on Sunday, April 21. I know most of our side, the Austen side, of the family but the Neville side of the family tree I know less well,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“We were thrilled – it was a really positive response. The younger generation will meet and hopefully continue the Chamberlain family connections with Highbury going forward”

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Her husband Mark Tinsley, one of the patrons at the Chamberlain Highbury Trust, said their family tree dates back to the 1600s. “The day was a great success with 66 Chamberlain family members coming from around the world and across the UK to meet and reconnect at Highbury, near Kings Heath and Moseley, in the Birmingham sunshine,” he said of the event.

Highbury Hall in Moseley, BirminghamHighbury Hall in Moseley, Birmingham
Highbury Hall in Moseley, Birmingham | LDRS

“In addition to the direct descendants of Joe Chamberlain, there were descendants of Chamberlain’s wider family, many of whom also served as Mayor of Birmingham. The renowned Birmingham historian and author Andrew Reekes gave a speech about Joe Chamberlain’s achievements as Mayor which led to Birmingham being known as the ‘best governed city in the world’.”

The Chamberlain Highbury Trust has said it wants to make Highbury Hall fully accessible to everyone and regain its place in Birmingham’s historical and cultural landscape. Mr Tinsley said the trust has a plan to restore Highbury and its 25 acre gardens to its “former glory” and to manage the estate as a multi-purpose visitor attraction.

“A significant proportion of the £12m funding has already been raised from a variety of sources,” he said. “The Chamberlain Highbury Trust is in discussions with Birmingham City Council as partner in the project to provide their support and allow the restoration work to proceed.”

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