Alcester

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For other uses, see Alcester (disambiguation).
Alcester
Alcester.jpg
Alcester's High Street
Alcester is located in Warwickshire
Alcester
Alcester
 Alcester shown within Warwickshire
Population 6,214 (2001)
OS grid reference SP0957
Civil parish Alcester
District Stratford-on-Avon
Shire county Warwickshire
Region West Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ALCESTER
Postcode district B49-B50
Dialling code 01789
Police Warwickshire
Fire Warwickshire
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament Stratford-on-Avon
List of places
UK
England
Warwickshire

Coordinates: 52°12′54″N 1°52′34″W / 52.215°N 1.876°W / 52.215; -1.876

Alcester (Listeni/ˈɒlstər/ or /ˈɔːlstər/) is a market town and civil parish of Roman origin at the junction of the River Alne and River Arrow in Warwickshire, England. It is situated approximately 8 miles (13 km) west of Stratford-upon-Avon, and 8 miles south of Redditch, close to the Worcestershire border. The 2001 census recorded a population of 6,214 in the town.

Etymology[edit]

The poet and antiquary John Leland wrote in his Itinerary (ca. 1538-43) that the name Alcester was derived from that of the River Alne. [1] The suffix 'cester' is derived from the Saxon word ceaster, which meant a Roman fort or town.[2]

Historical significance[edit]

During the Roman period Alcester (Alauna) was a walled town and Roman fort of some importance[3] being located on the Roman road of Ryknild Street just north of its juncture with the Fosse Way at Bourton-on-the-Water.

An important market town, Alcester was also the site of Alcester Abbey a Benedictine monastery founded in 1138 by Ralph le Boteler.[4] Richard de Tutbury, the last abbot, resigned his office in 1467 [5] and Alcester Abbey was absorbed into the neighbouring Evesham Abbey. By 1515 Alcester Abbey was in ruins brought about by the neglect of divers abbots, and later during the Dissolution of the Monasteries Henry VIII it was largely demolished. The ruins having been granted to the local Greville family who used much of the stone to rebuild their family seat of Beauchamp Court. [6]

The town today features architecture from the Medieval, Tudor, Georgian, Victorian and 20th century, the oldest house appears to be 'The Old Malthouse' at the corner of Church Street and Malt Mill Lane, which dates probably from about 1500.[7] The clock on St Nicholas' church is in an unusual position on the south-west corner of the 14th century tower, making it visible from the main High Street. The church also houses the tomb of Fulke Greville, grandfather of Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke.

Transport[edit]

Alcester once had a railway station, belonging to the Midland Railway (later part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway), on the Gloucester Loop Line, branching off the Bristol to Birmingham main line at Ashchurch, passing through Evesham, Alcester and Redditch, and rejoining the main line at Barnt Green, near Bromsgrove. The loop was built to address the fact that the main line bypassed most of the towns it might otherwise have served, but it took three separate companies to complete, Alcester being on the Evesham and Redditch Railway prior to absorption by the Midland.

In addition, a branch line provided by the Alcester Railway company (later part of the Great Western Railway), ran from Alcester to Bearley, thus giving access to Stratford-upon-Avon. This line however was an early casualty, closing in September 1939. The Midland loop was due to close between Ashchurch and Redditch in June 1963, but poor condition of the track brought about withdrawal of all trains between Evesham and Redditch in October 1962, being replaced by a bus service for the final eight months. Redditch to Barnt Green remains open on the electrified Birmingham suburban network.

Alcester is served by buses from Redditch, Evesham and Stratford upon Avon.

Current attractions[edit]

Alcester is also known for two nearby stately homes, to the North is Coughton Court the family seat of the Throckmorton baronets aswell as a National Trust property.[8] To the South West is Ragley Hall the home of the Marquis of Hertford whose gardens are host to a children's adventure playground and the Jerwood Foundation's sculpture collection.[9] Kinwarton, which is just north of Alcester, contains a church of Anglo Saxon origin, and a historic dovecote; Kinwarton Dovecote which is also a National Trust property.

Alcester is also a significant town on the 100-mile-long Heart of England Way long-distance walking route.

Recent developments, made by the council, include 'Roman Alcester', a museum exhibiting locally found archaeological artifacts from the 1st to 4th century AD. Admission is free although the museum is only open from Thursdays to Sundays.[10]

Annual events[edit]

In early June Alcester holds the Court Leet[11] charity street market with a procession and competitions for best stall and best fancy dress.

On the first Monday and Tuesday of October, Alcester plays host to an annual mop fair where amusement rides, side stalls and food booths line the High Street, Church Street and Henley Street. The mop fair has gradually over a period of years been decreasing in size. This is more likely to be an external influence as the people of Alcester still flock to the streets during the two nights.

The Alcester and Forest of Arden Food Festival is held every May and October and attracts thousands of visitors who enjoy local quality food and produce.[12]

Flooding[edit]

Flood in July 2007

The rivers Arrow and Alne, which join on the outskirts of Alcester, have occasionally flooded and on a few occasions engulfed part of the town. The last occurrences were in 1956, 10 April 1998 (Maunday Thursday) and on 21 July 2007 when 200 homes were left uninhabitable.[13]

In response to the severe flooding of 2007 Alcester flood scheme completed an underground storage tank with a 3.25 million litre capacity in June 2011,[14] costing just over £1 million. The scheme attracted funding from the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee’s Local Levy with contributions from Warwickshire County Council, Stratford District Council and Alcester Town Council. The scheme included work on the two pumping stations located at Bleachfield Street and Gas House Lane.[15]

Education and schools[edit]

Like most places in the United Kingdom, Alcester has a two-stage educational system, with students progressing from a primary to a secondary school. There are three secondary schools in Alcester: Alcester Grammar School (Performing Arts & Science Status), Alcester Academy (Technology & Music College), and St Benedict's Catholic High School (Specialising in Maths and Computers).

Alcester Grammar also has a sixth form which takes on around 290 students a year to study A-levels. St. Benedict's opened a sixth form in 2011, which takes on students to study the International Baccalaureate.

Places of worship[edit]

  • St. Nicholas Church
  • Our Lady & St Josephs Roman Catholic Church
  • Alcester Baptist Church
  • Alcester Methodist Church

Sports[edit]

Alcester Town Football Club has teams from Under-6 to Under-18 and senior players.[16] The town has a rugby club, and also used to have a golf centre which closed and became the home of the football club.

Alcester also is home to Alcester & Ragley Park Cricket Club, situated in the grounds of Ragely Hall, the club has two Saturday teams who play in the Cotswold Hills League and two Sunday teams who play friendlies. There are also numerous junior teams (Up to U16), and a girls team.

Alcester Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1892. The club continued until the outbreak of the Second World War. [17]

Notable people[edit]

Town twinning[edit]

References[edit]

General

Further reading[edit]

  • George Edward Saville and Alcester and District Local History Society Staff (1986). Alcester—a History. Brewin Books. 

External links[edit]