A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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The parish of Great Alne stretches from the north bank of the River Alne up to the top of the ridge, known as the Alne Hills, which divides the valleys of the Alne and the Arrow, the highest points—east of Alne Wood and Round Hill in the northern extremity of the parish—being over the 400-ft. contour. The soil is sand and marl, and the subsoil sand and clay. There is an old stone-pit on Carmore Hill and the stone for Alcester Market Hall was ordered to be brought from Alne in 1618. (fn. 1) But agriculture is now the sole occupation. There is a fair amount of woodland scattered over the parish: Alne Wood is probably the Wood of Alne, belonging to the Abbot of Winchcombe, which in 1326 was said to have been taken into the royal forest of Feckenham without warrant; (fn. 2) 41 acres of assarts in Alne Wood are mentioned about 1240, (fn. 3) and in former times it may well have been more extensive than it is now.
The village lies at the southern end of the parish, close to the river, the main part of it along the road from Alcester to Aston Cantlow and Henley-in-Arden. The church and Manor Farm lie north of the road near the west end, approached by a pathway. The Manor Farm has a middle rectangular block of the early 17th century running north and south, almost entirely covered in to the east and west by 18th- and 19th-century additions. It shows some original framing in the north gable-end and part of the east side and has a stone chimney-stack with a shaft, in thin bricks, of star-shaped plan. Inside are open-timbered ceilings with heavy chamfered beams and stop-chamfered joists and an 8-ft. fire-place. At the corner of the main road and the path to the church is a timber-framed cottage with a thatched roof; and some six or seven other small houses, mostly farther east on the main road, retain much of their original 17th-century framing.
Alne Lodge was built by Sir George Throckmorton (1518–52) on a piece of common ground called Ashbarrow. (fn. 4) It was probably the messuage conveyed by George Smith and George Green to John Smith of Woodhouse in 1614, and the property was in the tenure, in the late 17th century, of the Frogmores and subsequently, down to 1807–8, of the Morgans. (fn. 5) It is marked on several 17th-and early-18th-century maps, but was pulled down at some time between 1781 and 1830. No trace now remains of it. Its most probable site is the level field on the north side of Lodge Hill on to which five bridle-paths and trackways converge.
At the west end of the village a branch road crosses the Alne by a bridge (fn. 6) and leads to Haselor; and the main road takes a sharp turn to the right, with a rightangled turn to the left a few yards beyond at the Mother Huff Cap Inn, (fn. 7) where a road continues straight on to Spernall, crossing, within a quarter of a mile, the old road from Coughton to Stratford, now a field-path. (fn. 8) Within another mile, at New End Farm, a road to Shelfield goes off to the right and seems to be a continuation of the bridle-path coming upon the left from Coughton Ford. This, it has been suggested, was a salt-way from Droitwich to Warwick. (fn. 9) Across the northern extremity of the parish runs the road known as Burford Lane from Spernall to Shelfield. All these three roads are of great antiquity. The first is called Spernowe Way and the second Schelfhullway in a deed of 1282–1314. (fn. 10) The name Burford's Lane first appears in 1676 (fn. 11) and was derived from Burford's or Burrard's House, now Burford Lane Farm, on the north side of the road. In 1182 the road was called Warwikeswaie: (fn. 12) it leads direct to Warwick by Shelfield and Bearley Cross, and a probable reference in the same deed to Salters' Oak (fn. 13) near the road suggests that it also may have been used for the carriage of salt from Droitwich.
There are various references from the 13th to the 17th century to an earthwork in Great Alne known as the Rouedich or Row Ditch. It is first so called in a grant of land to Robert de Rowedich, dated 1247–82. (fn. 14) A deed of 1282–1314 gives the boundaries of a 26½-acre plot called Newlands at the Roue Ditch (granted to John, son of Robert of Roueditch). They are said to reach from Brocholehull along Schelfhullway on one side, on the other towards Calewehulle up to Spernowe Way and to the gate of John de la Rouedich. (fn. 15) There are now two fields called Newlands in the parish, respectively north and south of Alne wood, and these indications might be made to fit either of them. Near the former, however, along the eastern edge of a wood called Burnet's Brake, are possible traces of the ditch. About ¼ mile farther north, according to a deed of 1676, the Row Ditch crossed Burford's Lane, west of the farm. (fn. 16) Here its course can still be made out, running up to the top of Round Hill (Rugeberge, 1182). (fn. 17) It is identical with the modern parish boundary between Great Alne and Spernall and probably with that of the land granted by William Durvassel to the Abbot of Winchcombe in 1182. (fn. 18) A deed of 1184 mentions the Old and the New Ditch, which appear to have met at some point. (fn. 19) The latter was perhaps the Row Ditch, which may actually have been cut to mark this boundary of 1182. The Row Ditch and Round Hill probably account for the usual medieval name of the village—Rouen (or Reuen) Alne, afterwards corrupted to Round Alne. (fn. 20)
Five of the principal tenants in 1552 state that 'about forty yeres past or more the holle lordshippe of Alne dyd lye open & none Inclosure made with the said Lordshipe at which tyme all the tenñts & inhabitants thereof were nether able to brede any cattell nor to mayntayne ther temes for lacke of some sev'alty by reason wherof they were for the most pte poore & nedy psones scant able to pay ther rents whereupon they all made sute to the Abbotte of Wynchecome being then Lorde therof that eu'y tenñt might inclose certen lands out of com[m]on fields accordinge to ther quantytye, who at the next courte followynge condesendyd that sundry enclosures shoulde be made.' (fn. 21)
The first part, at least, of this statement is not strictly accurate, for there is evidence of inclosures at Alne in the 13th century. In 1236, most probably as a result of the Statute of Merton, Robert son of Robert de Bosco quitclaimed to the abbot all right of common of pasture in all assarts in the manor, receiving in return the right to pasture 13 cattle and 2 beasts in the meadows of Rudhomme and Silwardeshomme from hay time until the meadows were hayned. (fn. 22) By another grant, however, Robert received confirmation of 41 acres of assart in Alne Wood round Little Asseberue. (fn. 23) A few years later Abbot John (1247–82) made a grant to Robert de Rowedich which included 25 acres of old and 12 acres of new assarts. (fn. 24)
Moreover, in the detailed statement of recent inclosures made in the declaration of 1552, three pieces of land at the Woodhouse, viz. Hasdens or Haskyns, (fn. 25) Standhulls, (fn. 26) and Newlands, (fn. 27) are mentioned as having been inclosed a hundred years since, or 'tyme out of mynde'. The appeal to the abbot resulted in a number of inclosures being made, with the common consent of the tenants, during the early 16th century. Four pieces of land—the Lenche, the Cleif, Apulton, and Newlands and Stocking—were inclosed out of demesne by the farmer of the manor, probably before 1532, every tenant being given a close and the parson two closes in compensation. Brodeyarde was inclosed by all the tenants. Sir Robert Throckmorton (d. 1518) inclosed the Gowers, which was demesne except for 3 acres for which the tenant was compensated. In another case the tenant who inclosed the Ruddyngs and Welcome gave up his common in all the other fields. Sir George Throckmorton, who farmed the manor in 1532–3, made a boundary inclosure round the whole lordship, dividing it 'wt quyckeset hedge & dyche . . . from all other townes & filds therunto adioyninge to the Greate proffite com[m]oditie & advāntage of all the tenñts & inhabitaunts therof'. (fn. 28) To recoup himself for the cost of this undertaking he withdrew from common four pieces of ground—Rettam, Alysam, The Mores, and Bryers Furlong—which had been taken in as one inclosure by the abbot but remained as Lammas common up to that time. By way of further recompense Sir George inclosed 18 or 19 acres of demesne, known as Broke Furlong, a piece of Lammas common called Broke Meadowe and Ashe barrowe, where he built a lodge and converted the land into a rabbit warren. A fourth piece, Nether Meade, was inclosed but was still lying open and common in 1552, as was a 3-acre piece called the Bratch which had been appointed by common consent to Richard Smith, one of the tenants.
It was denied that any depopulation had followed these inclosures, though 'three ploughes are supposed to be decayed . . . one at the farme & ij at the Woodehouse'. The farmer was keeping 12 oxen and 'tyllythe as moche for his com[m]oditie & benefit he thynkithe meate', and the land at the Woodhouse 'ys devyded into fyve pts (fn. 29) notwtstandinge iij yarde lande ys styll in tyllage whiche ys as moche as ev' was tyllyd'. The result, it was stated, was a great increase of prosperity; houses 'newly buyldyd & all the teñnts as well & bettr able to lyve as before thenclosures and the lordshippe enryched syns'. Between 1539 and 1578 the number of yardlands held by copyholders fell from 22 and 3 acres to 14 and 5 ridges. (fn. 30)
The process continued in the 17th and 18th centuries —a new inclosure, for instance, being mentioned in 1688. (fn. 31) Yet the village was never inclosed by Act of Parliament and a map of 1834 shows portions of the three open fields of the village, Aston or Ridgway field (lying on either side of the Henley-in-Arden road), Copton Field (fn. 32) (north of the church), and Hogshead Field (fn. 33) (towards the west end of the parish) still partially divided into strips. (fn. 34) The latest reference to them is in 1873, when 34 pieces of uninclosed land in Ridgway Field were advertised for sale. (fn. 35)
An annual wake, on 21 July, was still being held here in 1730, but all recollection of it has long disappeared. (fn. 36)
There is a Memorial Hall opened in 1921, and a railway station on the Great Western branch-line from Bearley to Alcester opened in 1876. (fn. 37)
Land at Alne was given by Cenwulf, King of the Mercians, about 809, to his newly founded abbey of Winchcombe in Gloucestershire (fn. 38) which was holding 6 hides in Alne at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 39) About the end of the 12th century William the Chamberlain of Tankerville granted to the abbey all the wood and plain between Alne and his manor of Aston about which a dispute had arisen, on condition that his men should enjoy the same common rights as they did in the other wood and plain of Alne and that the land should remain uncultivated. (fn. 40) In 1251 the abbot and convent were given the right of free-warren in their manor, then known as RUWENALNE. (fn. 41) In 1291 the abbey's possessions there were valued at £8 7s. 7d. (fn. 42) In 1535 the manor was valued at £24 10s. 1d. a year and was appropriated to the Chamberlain of the monastery. (fn. 43)
After the Dissolution the manor of ALNE was retained by the Crown (fn. 44) and was leased to Sir George Throckmorton, (fn. 45) whose rent of £30 10s. was reduced to £10 10s. during his own lifetime, in September 1550, for his good services. (fn. 46) In 1585 his son Nicholas Throckmorton was said to be holding half the lordship on a lease from the Crown. (fn. 47)
On 1 December 1599 Queen Elizabeth sold the manor to Edward Stone of the city of Westminster and Thomas Gainsford of the city of London, to be held in chief as 1/40 knight's fee. (fn. 48) Gainsford is said to have made over his share to Stone, (fn. 49) who died seised of the whole manor in November 1607, leaving a son Edward, then aged 17 years, (fn. 50) who on 26 November 1612 sold it to George Smyth of Woodhouse (see below) and George Greene, both of the parish. (fn. 51) They disposed of parcels of land to various people, (fn. 52) but George Greene, in 1635, settled the manor with the Manor House or Farm Place of GREAT ALNE or ROUND ALNE on Margaret the wife of his son Edward (fn. 53) and died in 1638, holding it as half of 1/40 knight's fee. (fn. 54) Edward Greene died c. 1665–7 (fn. 55) and as he left no children the manor passed to his widow Dorothy and then to her nephew Robert Bloxham, (fn. 56) who was holding it in 1713. (fn. 57) Bloxham's daughter and heir Dorothy married Phillips Lyttelton of Studley Castle, (fn. 58) who was holding the manor in 1743. (fn. 59) On his death in 1763 it passed to his son Phillips who died unmarried in 1809, leaving as his heir Francis Holyoake, husband of his niece Dorothy, who died in 1835. His son Francis Lyttelton Holyoake assumed the additional surname of Goodricke and died in 1865. He seems, however, to have parted with the manor of Great Alne before his death, since William Chamberlain Hemming is described as lord in 1850, (fn. 60) and Sir Nicholas William George Throckmorton in 1864 and 1873. (fn. 61) By 1876 the manor had passed to Daniel Rowlinson Ratcliff, of Birmingham, (fn. 62) who built Great Alne Hall in that year. He sold the manor in 1895 to Arthur Lucas Chance, esq., who had lived at the hall as his tenant since 1886. On Mr. Chance's death in 1932 the estate passed to his eldest son, Walter Lucas Chance, esq., and he in 1935, after the death of his mother, who had held a life interest, sold the whole of the property to Percy Swiffen, esq., by whom the hall has been replaced by a smaller house on the same site. (fn. 63)
One Robert son of Robert de Bosco was living in Alne in 1236 (fn. 64) and a Robert de Bosco, 30 years later, granted land here called Newland to Roger his brother. (fn. 65) In 1334 Robert Atte Wode of Rouen Alne made a grant to his brother Adam; (fn. 66) Thomas Atte Wode late of Woodhous is mentioned in 1468, (fn. 67) and in 1482 his feoffees dealt with it as a manor. (fn. 68) In 1521 Thomas Atwood died seised of the manor of WOODHOUSE and of wood in 'Rouenalne' held of the Abbot of Winchcombe as ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 69) This appears to be the last specific reference to Woodhouse as a manor. Thomas was succeeded by an infant or possibly posthumous son of the same name, (fn. 70) who at his death in 1543 held the capital messuage of Woodhouse of the king, as of the manor of Alne. (fn. 72) His heirs were his five sisters, Margaret wife of John Hopkins, Anne wife of Gregory Strayne, Eleanor wife of Thomas Gilbert, Joan Atwood, and Juliana wife of Henry Tyner. (fn. 73) The subsequent descent of the estate is obscure. Gregory Strayne before 1578 sold all his lands at the Rowditch to George Smith, (fn. 74) who as George Smith of Woodhouse was a party to the purchase of the manor of Great Alne in 1612 (fn. 75) and to a conveyance of land to John Smith of Woodhouse in 1614; (fn. 76) and in 1622 Anthony Skynner bequeathed 46 acres and a pond in Woodhouse and a cottage and close in Great Alne to his son William. (fn. 77) But the family of Atwood, probably a collateral branch, was still settled in Great Alne in the 17th century, (fn. 78) and it seems probable that Edward Atwood, who served as High Constable of Barlichway Hundred 1647–50 (fn. 79) and died c. 1667–70, lived at Woodhouse. (fn. 80) His grandson, Edward (d. 1728), and great-grandson, Richard, mortgaged their estate in Great Alne to Mrs. Anne Ballard, widow, of Evesham, in 1722, and it came eventually into the hands of the Burton family. (fn. 81) The present Woodhouse Farm is a modern house on the original site.
Alne Mill, which is still working, lies about a quarter of a mile to the south of the village and the road leading down to it is probably the Milnewey or Millway mentioned in 1541 (fn. 82) and 1728. (fn. 83) The mill at Alne was worth 5s. in Domesday (fn. 84) and 6s. 8d. in the Taxation of 1291. (fn. 85) In 1516 it was let by the abbot to John and Elizabeth Palmer at an annual rent of £1 10s. (fn. 86)
The church has been much restored in modern times; the aisle with an arcade of two bays, the western part of the nave, and the porch-turret are all modern additions, probably of 1837. From the few ancient features remaining it is difficult to trace exactly the development; the small 13th-century lancet in the chancel probably indicates the age of that part. The axis of the chancel is rather north of that of the nave, suggesting that the nave was widened southwards some time after the 13th century, and the north wall of the nave (east of the arcade) is 2 ft. 9 in. thick, as against the 2 ft. 3 in. of the south wall, but the window in it is of the 15th century.
The chancel (about 21½ ft. by 13 ft.) has a modern east window of three lights. The east wall is of modern lias rubble except the lower parts, on either side of the window, where it is ancient rubble once thinly plastered, and has a chamfered plinth: the two ancient square buttresses against the north and south angles have modern plinths and top stones. In the south wall are two windows: the eastern of two cinquefoiled pointed lights under a square head is of the 15th century; the other, near the west end of the wall, is a small 13thcentury lancet with unequal internal splays, the eastern more obtuse than the western, and may have been a 'low-side'. The wall outside is covered mostly with modern cement: the top of it is modern brickwork. The only piercing in the north wall is a modern doorway into the vestry. East of it is a locker of modern stonework. The pointed chancel-arch of two chamfered orders is modern. The roof has a plastered soffit and one modern truss: it is tiled.
The nave (about 38 ft. by 19¾ ft.) has the 15th-century window near the east end of the north wall; it is of two cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and plain piercings in a square head: the wall is of old large squared ashlar stonework and has a chamfered plinth: the north-east buttress is modern. The western half of the wall has the modern arcade of two bays to the aisle. In the south wall are three modern windows, the first and third of three trefoiled lights under a square head. The middle is of two lights with shouldered heads; it displaced a former south doorway, some jamb-stones of which still remain. The wall is divided outside into three bays by four buttresses, of which all but the westernmost are old and have chamfered plinths. The western and smallest bay is of modern lias rubble in two periods, indicating probably a modern lengthening of the nave. The west wall, with an entrance and two windows, is modern, as is also the west porch, which is carried up as a square bell-turret changing to an octagon at the top and having an octagonal pyramidal roof. The modern north aisle has two north windows, and one at the east and at the west. The nave has a west gallery of 1837 when, according to a record in the church, it was enlarged for 86 additional seats.
The register of baptisms begins in 1604 and of marriages and burials in 1614. (fn. 87)
In 1175 the church at Alne was confirmed to the abbey of Winchcombe by Pope Alexander III. (fn. 88) Dugdale, however, cites a grant of Henry II's time, presumably a few years later, of the church of Kinwarton, with the chapels of Alne and Weethley belonging to it, by Ralph de Kinwarton to Evesham Abbey. (fn. 89) Alne has remained since that time a chapelry of Kinwarton (q.v.), although Winchcombe received another confirmation of it, from Pope Alexander IV, in 1257. (fn. 90)
The church is included with Kinwarton in the valuation of 1291. (fn. 91) The Abbot of Winchcombe was then entitled to a yearly pension of 6s. 8d. out of the rectory; and the tithes of the demesne of Alne were confirmed to Winchcombe by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1384 (fn. 92) and by the Bishop of Worcester in 1404. (fn. 93) In 1535 the church was separately valued at £7 8s. (fn. 94)
Church Meers Charity. A sum of £80, representing the gift of William Parker and others, was invested in the purchase of lands lying in Great Alne called Church Meers for the benefit of the poor. The land containing 3 a. 2 r. 15 p. is now let at an annual rent of £6.
John Smith's Charity. It appears from a benefaction table in the church that John Smith gave two pairs of shoes yearly, for ever, to two poor widows of the parish. The gift was secured by a rentcharge of 13s. on land forming part of Woodhouse Farm at Alne Hills. The charge was redeemed in 1934 by an order of the Charity Commissioners in consideration of a sum of £26 Consols producing 13s. annually in dividends.
Edward Green's Charity. It is also stated on the benefaction table that Edward Green gave £5 yearly out of his estate to be given to the poor in bread. The endowment now consists of a rentcharge of £5 issuing out of Manor Farm, Great Alne.