Why is Highbury so important?
Highbury is an exceptional example of a mansion house and grounds created by a wealthy industrialist in a suburban location.
It is remarkable for its Venetian Gothic architecture and its wealth of craftsmanship and decoration. Whilst its architecture and landscape are of high quality, it is the site’s close association with Joseph Chamberlain and his family that ensures its national importance.
The decline of Highbury
Following the death of Joseph in 1914, the house was used for convalescing soldiers of the First World War. Austen Chamberlain established the Highbury Trust in 1919 to manage the estate and in 1932 the Trust was passed to the City Council ‘for the general benefit of the citizens of Birmingham’.
Although parts of the building continue to be used for private functions, the charitable purposes of the site have become obscured and there is generally no public access to the house and its unique heritage.
Following extensive public consultation there was the recognition that new governance and a new operating model were needed to restore the property and to take full advantage of the range of educational and social opportunities that this unique site offers Birmingham, the UK and the world.