“At the western edge of Aston Manor, where Heathfield Road and Lozells Lane (now Road) met, was built a house called Aston Villa. It is thought some time during the late 18th or early 19th century. For several decades the house served as a school for the ‘sons of gentlemen’ before being converted into the Villa Cross Tavern around the 1870s. (The building was finally demolished in the mid-1930s, to be replaced by a new pub, which in 1997 was serving as a job centre.
“Extremely modest compared with the likes of Aston Hall or Heathfield House, Aston Villa appears to have been one of barely a dozen major buildings, erected in the area during the period 1750-1835. Yet it was of sufficient importance that, by 1824 at least, the immediate vicinity around the house became known as Aston Villa, andd later more formally as the Villa Ward. The junction in front of the house became known as Villa Cross, from which Villa Road, as now, led to Soho Hill.
“Another institution to adopt the name Aston Villa was a Wesleyan Chapel, founded in 1850 on the corner of Lozells Road and George Street, virually opposite Aston Villa. It was here in the adjoining Sunday school building that pupils followed the muscular Christian creed of the day by forming a cricket team, probably in 1872.”
• Simon Inglis, Villa Park, 100 Years.
It was the members of the Aston Villa Wesleyan Chapel cricket team who in 1874 decided to form a football section to keep themselves active during the winter months, and so the Aston Villa Football Club was born.
• Local historian Don Abbott has published more details about the original Aston Villa at the Sporting Heritage website.