River Severn in flood at Atcham
Atcham shown within Shropshire
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||West Midlands|
|UK Parliament||Shrewsbury and Atcham|
Atcham is a village, ecclesiastical parish and civil parish in Shropshire, England. It is situated on the B4380 (the old A5), 5 miles south east of Shrewsbury. The River Severn flows around the village. To the south is the village of Cross Houses, and to the northwest the hamlet of Emstrey.
It was once part of, and gave its name to, Atcham Rural District, before that district merged with the Borough of Shrewsbury in 1974, and the village came under the control of Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council. From 2009, Shrewsbury & Atcham was merged with the other districts of non-metropolitan Shropshire to form Shropshire Council. The Parliamentary constituency which covers the borough remains as Shrewsbury and Atcham.
The only church in England to be dedicated to Saint Eata, bishop of Hexham, can be found in the village. Just why St Eata should have this one church bearing his name so far away from the area of his ministry is something of a mystery. There is no written record suggesting that he ever came so far south. There is, however, a crop photograph from the 1970s of a field in Attingham Park showing the ground-plan of a Saxon palace identical to one excavated near Hexham. Did a noble's daughter from Hexham move to Atcham to be married, bringing with her architect's plans and the memory of a favourite saint? 'Atcham' is a contraction of 'Attingham' which means 'the home of Eata's people.' The church dates back to the 11th century.
Ordericus Vitalis, the historian, was born in the village in 1075.
The local airfield RAF Atcham (now returned to agriculture and light industry) was home to an American training unit for much of World War II. They used P-47 Thunderbolts and, later, P-38 Lightnings for operational training for new fighter pilots posted in from the USA. Almost 50 pilots were lost in accidents flying from here.
Famous landmarks of Atcham include Attingham Park, the seat of the Barons Berwick until that title became extinct in 1953. The hall at Attingham Park is now the regional headquarters of the National Trust and also on the estate is the Shropshire office of Natural England. Adjacent to Attingham Park is Home Farm Attingham. Home Farm, now separate to the hall that it traditionally would have supplied, is a family run organic farm and tearoom open to families and the general public to visit.
There are two bridges at Atcham, the older one, built in 1774, is commonly known as Atcham Bridge, while the newer one, which was opened in 1929, carries the Old A5 (B4380) road over the River Severn.
There is a public house in the village called the Mytton & Mermaid (owned at one time by Clough Williams-Ellis as a staging post on the way to his iconic Italianate village of Portmeirion), but the school, Post Office and petrol station have all closed. The former garage remains as a small car sales and vehicle repair business.
Atcham has a timber-framed village hall, named The Malthouse, built in the 17th century as a malthouse but after disuse was converted in the 19th century into carpenter's shop for the Attingham estate. It was opened after restoration in 1925 as the village hall and dedicated in memory of the men of Atcham parish who died in World War I. It has a sprung floor bought from a dance hall in Shrewsbury.
Nearby is Atcham Business Park/Industrial Estate, on the site of the old airfield of RAF Atcham. Despite its name, it is in fact in the neighbouring civil parish of Wroxeter and Uppington, although, since the Diocese of Lichfield made some parish boundary changes, it is now in the ecclesiastical parish of Atcham.
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