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Alcester ( or ) is an old market town of Roman origin at the junction of the River Alne and River Arrow in Warwickshiremarker, Englandmarker, and situated approximately 8 miles (12.9 km) west of Stratford-upon-Avonmarker. The 2001 census recorded a population of 6,214 in the town, which also has civil parish status.

Historical significance

In Roman times Alcester (Alauna) was a walled town and Roman fort of some importance being located at a junction between the Ryknild Street Roman road and the ancient Saltway from Droitwichmarker and the roman road from Stratford upon Avonmarker 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. The monastery was once a thriving one. In 1318 Walter de Beauchamp, who had a seat in the neighborhood, complained to the abbot of the monastery that some of his monks had removed Beauchamp's possessions from his manor. 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.

Transport

Alcester once had a railway station, belonging to the Midland Railway (later part of the LMS), and situated on a lengthy loop line, branching off the Bristolmarker to Birminghammarker main line at Ashchurchmarker, passing through Eveshammarker, Alcester and Redditch, and rejoining the main line at Barnt Greenmarker, near Bromsgrovemarker. 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 Bearleymarker, thus giving access to Stratford-upon-Avonmarker. 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.

Current attractions

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

Ragley Hallmarker is home to the Jerwood Sculpture Park.

Alcester is also a significant town on the 100 mile-long Heart of England Waymarker 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.

Alcester has a high number of Public Houses for the size of the town.

These include -

The Hollybush, The Cross Keys, The Royal Oak, The Lord Nelson, The Three Tuns, The White Lion, The Swan, The Roebuck, The Turks Head, The Dog and Partridge, The Bear, Alcester Rugby Club, The Moat House, Kings Court Hotel.

There are also places around the town that have a bar but do not open generally.

Annual Events

In early June Alcester holds the Court Leet 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 Court. 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.

Flooding

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, 1998 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, Moat House Inn and The Cross Keys.

Education and schools

Like most places in the United Kingdommarker, 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 Schoolmarker (Performing Arts & Science Status), Alcester High Schoolmarker (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 200 students a year to study A-levels. The School prides itself on high standards which it has achieved consistently over many years.

St. Benedict's has been granted permission to extend the school and to become a sixth form school too. They are currently in the process of building the sixth form area.

References

  1. Alcester, Excerpt from the National Gazeteer, 1868
  2. Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office, Public Record Office, Great Britain, 1903
  • Cave, Lyndon F., Warwickshire Villages, London, 1976. ISBN 0-7091-5509-3


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