The Warstone

Of disputed antiquity this glacial erratic is known also as the Whorestone or Hoarstone and can be found just inside the Warstone Lane Cemetary in Hockley; Birmingham. Being one of the few open spaces in the cities Jewellery Quarter it is also known as the Brookfields Cemetary, the Church of England Cemetary or simply as the Mint Cemetary. A notable feature is the two tiers of catacombs whose unhealthy vapours led to the Birmingham Cemetaries Act which required that all non-interred coffins should be sealed with lead or pitch. The foundation stone for the chapel (demolished 1954) was laid on 6 April 1847. The blue brick lodge gate (Hamilton & Medland 1948) building survives and is grade II listed. The cemetery is itself grade II and no longer open to buriels.

John Baskerville (1706-1775) is buried within the cemetary, a member of the 'Royal Society of Arts' and an associate of members of the 'Lunar Society' he is best remembered as a printer and typographer. Baskerville was an athiest and at his own request that upon his death he should be buried in unconsecrated ground was laid to rest in the garden of his house, Easy Hill. When a canal was built through the land his body was placed in storage in a warehouse for several years before being secretly deposited in the crypt of Christ Church (demolished 1899), Birmingham. Later his remains were moved, with other bodies from the crypt to the consecrated catacombs at the Warstone Cemetary


In 'Notes and Queries for Worcestershire' (1856) John Noake explains (page 204) that: "At Dudley there is a tradition that many years ago a giant lived in Dudley castle, as did also one in the castle of Birmingham. The Birmingham giant had done suit and service to the Dudley giant for many years, but growing fat he began to kick, and refused to serve the Dudley giant longer. A furious dispute thereupon broke out; the Dudley giant in his rage threw a large stone all the way from Dudley at the Birmingham giant and demolished his castle and killed him. Some of his surviving followers erected a stone in the lane as a memento of his prowess and rage and called it the War Stone, whence the name Warstone Lane."


The Warstone now sits proudly upon a plinth upon which the following inscripton is engraved: "This felsite boulder was deposited near hear by a glacier during the Ice Age. Being at one time used as a parish boundary mark was known as the Hoar Stone of which the modern war stone is a corruption."


It is interesting that since the inscription was written and the boulder placed upon it the name War Stone seems to have been further corrupted into Warstone!