Highbury was built by Joseph Chamberlain, industrialist, reforming Birmingham Mayor and controversial national and imperial politician and was the family residence until his death in 1914. Highbury symbolises and commemorates the power of a political dynasty, which included his sons, Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister from 1937–1940, and Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary 1924–1929 and Nobel Prize Winner in 1926.
The house and its surrounding 30 acre estate form one of Birmingham’s most important heritage assets. The Grade II* listed house was designed by the prominent Birmingham architect J. H. Chamberlain (no relation) in a Venetian Gothic style with exceptional naturalistic decorative features and was completed in 1878.
The grounds were mainly landscaped by Edward Milner, an Edwardian garden designer of national reputation, and are included at Grade II on the national register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. They included a long carriage drive from the lodge, pleasure gardens close to the house, kitchen gardens, a hobby farm and a series of ornamental gardens, lakes, ponds and open parkland.
In 1919 when the building was in use as a military hospital, the estate was assigned to a trust, the Highbury Trust; in 1932, the trusteeship was passed to Birmingham City Council which has since then been the sole trustee. The property was given in trust to the City Council ‘for the benefit of the people of Birmingham’.
The estate is now managed by the Chamberlain Highbury Trust.