The settlement and development of the Kings Heath district essentially began in the 18th century. Until then, it was a largely unoccupied wasteland with ancient woods and commons. As part of the Royal Manor of Kings Norton, this wasteland came to be called the Kings Heath. The attractions of the area were timber, clay suitable for brick-making and flax.
Two particular events brought new settlers at this time. In 1767, the old track from Alcester to Birmingham was improved and became a turnpike road. The toll gate and house were probably located at the northern end of what is now the High Street, near the boundary with Moseley. This stretch of the road was then quite marshy, being much lower than the road to the south, but nevertheless a scattering of cottages appeared around the Cross Guns where travellers stopped for rest and refreshment. The second event was the further enclosure of the heath from 1772 when new farms were established on its borders.
Until 1800, the most important private house was Hazelwell Hall, built on an estate dating back to 1325. Now wealthy manufacturers from Birmingham began to buy farms and land here. William Hamper at the Grange and John Cartland at the Priory were both sons of Birmingham brass-founders. Attracted by its healthy air, the fine views to the south and its convenience to the town, such new settlers began the growth of Kings Heath as a residential district.