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Halesowen in 1841

Hales Owen is situated in that insulated part of the hundred of Brimstrey which is surrounded by Worcestershire and Staffordshire, and is about twelve miles from the nearest part of Shropshire. The population of the whole parish, in 1831, was 11,839, of which 9,765 were comprised in the Shropshire portion. The town was formerly remarkable for its great abbey, of Praemonstratensian canons, which was built in the reign of John. The remains of the building are now trifling ; but from the foundations that can be traced, it must have been of considerable extent. St. Kenelm's Chapel in this parish is an ancient building consisting of a single aisle and tower. There is a legend in connection with this building, that Kenelm, the only son of Kenulf, king of the Mercians, was murdered on this spot in the ninth century by his guardian, through the artifice of his sister, who subsequently took possession of the kingdom, and that the whole of this transaction was miraculously revealed to the pope at Rome, and the chapel of St. Kenelm erected on the spot where the murder was perpetrated. A portion of the chapel bears traces of great antiquity, and the tower is an elegant specimen of Gothic architecture.

The town is pleasantly situated in a valley, and contains many good houses. The church is a fine building, with a beautiful spire supported by four arches. About five hundred persons are employed in manufactures, which principally consist of nails and various sorts of hardware. There are two fairs held here in the year, and one at St. Kenelm. The living of Hales-Owen is a vicarage, the annual value of which is about £700. The perpetual curacy of Oldbury is in the gift of the vicar for the time being of the parish, and is worth £150 per annum. In the vicinity of Hales-Owen is the Leasowes, the birth-place and residence of the poet Shenstone. The grounds were laid out under his superintendence with excellent taste, but after his death they were much neglected. The poet was buried in the churchyard of Hales-Owen, and within the church is a monument to his memory.

There are four day-schools, one of which is a free grammar-school for forty boys. Another is endowed for the education of twenty-two poor children. There are one boarding-school and seven Sunday-schools, two in connection with the Established Church, two with Baptists, two with Methodists, and the other with Independents. These Sunday-schools are supported by subscription, and contain altogether about eight hundred children.