Alcester

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

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

Alcester (Listeni/ˈɒlstər/ or /ˈɔːlstər/) is an old market town 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, which also has civil parish status.

Historical significance[edit]

In Roman times Alcester (Alauna) was a walled town and Roman fort of some importance[1] being located at a junction between the Ryknild Street Roman road and the ancient Saltway from Droitwich and the Roman road from Stratford upon Avon and the Fosse Way.

An important market town, Alcester was the site of a Benedictine monastery founded in the middle of the 12th century by Ralph le Boteler.[2] The monastery was once a thriving one. In 1318 Walter de Beauchamp, who had a seat in the neighbourhood, complained to the abbot of the monastery that some of his monks had removed Beauchamp's possessions from his manor.[3] At the Dissolution, King Henry VIII granted the monastery to the Greville family.

The town today includes a number of preserved Tudor and other houses, notably those near the parish church, in Butter Street and in Malt Mill Lane. The Old Rectory, situated directly in front of the church, is a particularly interesting example of Georgian architecture. A number of fine Victorian additions have been made at the rear of the house. 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.

Areas of Alcester[edit]

In Alcester there are four main areas. The Conway, Kinwarton, the Old town and the Arrow area.

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 known for two nearby local stately homes, Coughton Court, (a National Trust property) north at Coughton, and (south-west), Ragley Hall, the home of the Marquis of Hertford. Kinwarton, which is just north of Alcester, contains a church of Anglo Saxon origin, and a historic dovecoteKinwarton Dovecote — which is a National Trust property.

Ragley Hall is home to the Jerwood Foundation's sculpture collection.

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 showing locally found artifacts from the 1st to 4th century AD. Admission is free although the museum is only open from Thursdays to Sundays.[4]

Annual events[edit]

In early June Alcester holds the Court Leet[5] 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.[6]

Flooding[edit]

Flood in July 2007

The rivers Arrow and Alne, which join on the outskirts of Alcester, occasionally flood and engulf part of the town. Last occurrences were in 1956, 10 April 1998 (Maunday Thursday) and 21 July 2007. The rivers meet at Oversley Bridge, on the old Stratford road. Flooded pubs included: The Dog & Partridge, The Swan, Royal Oak, Three Tunns, The Bear, The Turks Head, and The Cross Keys.

Alcester flood scheme opened in June 2011, 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. The pumps will be used to get water out of the town when the drainage system cannot cope and the river is high.[7]

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

Sports[edit]

Alcester Town Football Club has teams from Under-6 to Under-18 and senior players.[8] 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.

Notable People[edit]

Town twinning[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]