Alvechurch Village - A History

The land around Alvechurch is mentioned in a charter of King Offa in 780 AD but the first details of the village itself come in the Domesday Book of 1087. By that time, we had a church but no mill and the village was worth 100 shillings.

The Bishop's Palace was built in the 13th century and the village grew larger and more prosperous over the next three hundred years until the Bishops moved to Worcester at around the time of the Reformation. The Palace decayed and now only the moat and fish ponds remain.

Half the population died in the Black Death in the 14th century and local tradition has it that the bodies are buried on the outskirts of the village in Pestilence Lane. This may or may not be true but the story was taken very seriously when the M42 motorway was being planned. Test pits were dug in Pestilence Lane and the samples were checked for traces of contagious diseases. Nothing was found and the 'Hopwood Services' were built on the site in 1998.

Alvechurch remained a small agricultural community from the 14th to the 18th centuries but small industries grew up as the canal and railway reached the village. These faded away in the 20th Century and the village is now mainly residential. There are however a surprising number of businesses based in homes and small offices around the village. As an example, we have a gunsmiths, a maker of sports cars, a brewery, and a boat builders.

Traces of the rural heritage remain in the strangest places. Alvechurch had a hiring fair for farm hands every October where workers would parade before the landowners who were looking to take on workers for the year. After being hired, workers would spend the rest of the day at the fair as a holiday. A maid would carry a mop to show the sort of work she was after and the event was known as the 'Mop Fair'.

The 'Mop' still travels around local villages. It's purely a funfair now but every year it takes over the centre of the village on the first Wednesday of October and the tradition continues.

Alvechurch means The church of the Lady Aelfgiva, possibly a relative of King Athelstan. King Offa gave the land forming the parish to the local church in the late 8th century. The village has a number of medieval half-timbered buildings, as well as a plethora of Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian buildings.

The church of St Laurence dates back to 1239. It is situated on high ground, and was probably the site of an earlier Mercian church, although nothing remains of the earlier wooden building. Much of the church was rebuilt between 1858 and 1861 by William Butterfield. There is a 1,348-pipe organ. The tower has a peal of eight bells, rung regularly by the North Worcestershire Ringing Association. The Ark, a £1m extension to the chuch was built in 2005 despite a village referendum in February 2004 voting against the erection of the building.

There is also an attractive arts and crafts style Baptist church in the centre of the village.

Alvechurch railway station was built in 1859. There are also many newer residential buildings and a primary and secondary school with library.

Information supplied by:

Geoff Franklin local links) local links)