A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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Aelfgithecirce (viii cent.); Aelfythecyrcan (x cent.); Aelfithe Cyrce (xi cent.); Alvithecherche (xii cent.); Alninechurch, Alvechirche (xiii cent.); Alvechchirche, Alvychurch, Alvenecherch, Alvethechirche, Alvynchurche, Alvythechurche (xiv cent.); Allchurch, Allewchurche, Alchurch (xvi cent.).
The parish of Alvechurch is situated in the northeast of the county of Worcester and has an area of 6,800 acres, (fn. 1) of which 896 acres are arable, 5,418 acres are permanent grass and 48 acres are wood. (fn. 2) The land is high, varying from 400 ft. above the ordnance datum in the south to 600 ft. in the north. The subsoil is clay and marl, and the chief crops are wheat, oats and beans.
Included in this parish are the village of Alvechurch and the hamlets of Forhill, Hopwood and Lea End in the north, Barnt Green in the west and Rowney Green and part of Weatheroak Hill in the south.
Between the years 1650 and 1660 a court of survey was held for the manor of Alvechurch, when the boundaries of the parish were accurately described. At the end of the 18th century attested copies of this survey were in the possession of several of the inhabitants. (fn. 3)
The River Arrow runs through the parish from north to south and forms part of the southern boundary, while one of its tributaries forms part of the eastern boundary.
The Worcester and Birmingham Canal, running through the western portion of the parish, is fed by two large reservoirs called Upper and Lower Bittell Reservoirs. South of Hopwood there are wharves on the canal, which enters the Westhill Tunnel to the north-east of Hopwood. On the banks of the canal, to the west of the village of Alvechurch, there are brickworks.
The chief road in the parish is the Birmingham and Evesham high road, which runs southwards from West Heath through the hamlet of Hopwood and the village of Alvechurch. Icknield Street, the old Roman road, runs through the hamlet of Forhill in the east of the parish.
The village of Alvechurch is situated about 4 miles north of Redditch in a hollow upon the main road to Birmingham. A cross-road leading eastwards in the direction of Bromsgrove constitutes the centre of the village, and here a small gore is formed, upon which is built an isolated block of red brick cottages. The church stands on high ground to the south of the Bromsgrove road, a little to the west of the cross-roads. On the north side of this road, between the church and the main part of the village, is a fine 16thcentury half-timbered house, now divided into two. There is some good half-timber work in the main street, but the majority of the houses are of brick and of comparatively recent date. On an elevated plateau to the east of the village, immediately to the south of the cross-road mentioned above, is the site of the former palace of the Bishops of Worcester with the remains of fishponds. The buildings have disappeared, but the system of moats remains intact, inclosing a large rectangular area, subdivided by a cross moat. All but the trench on the north side are still filled with water. Just by the cross-road is a water-mill, still in use, worked by a stream which flows down the valley in which the village lies. Barnt Green House, close to the Barnt Green railway station, is a picturesque half-timbered house of the latter half of the 16th century. The plan is T-shaped and of the normal central hall type, with modern additions. There are two stories with an attic floor in the roof. The chimney stacks have bases of stone ashlar work surmounted by brick shafts of the intersecting diagonal type. Some original oak panelling remains, but most of the principal rooms appear to have been refitted in the 18th century with new panelling of the same material. The main staircase is a good example of the latter date.
On the northern boundary of the parish is Westhill Farm. (fn. 4) At Moorgreen Hall near Weatheroak Hill are the remains of a moat. In Rowney Green there are several gravel-pits.
The chief houses are Bordesley Hall with Bordesley Park belonging to Lieut.-Colonel H. C. Geast Dugdale, but now the residence of Mr. Alfred Harold Wiggin, J.P., and the Forhill House, the residence of Mr. Walter William Wiggin, J.P.
The Barnt Green, Evesham and Ashchurch branch of the Midland railway runs through the parish, and the Bristol and Birmingham branch of the same railway runs along a portion of the western boundary. There is a station on the former at Alvechurch opened in 1859, and on the latter at Barnt Green.
An Inclosure Act for Alvechurch was passed in 1819. (fn. 5)
The following place-names occur: Crukedebrugg, Levericheshull, Drayhulle, Pyrleye, Sandon, Ernaldescroft, and Pynyton (xiii cent.) (fn. 6); Le Graunge Wode, the Tirlewey, (fn. 7) Cockys Bache, the Ruddyng, Swanneshull, (fn. 8) Fraunces, (fn. 9) Webfeldes, (fn. 10) Coole Croft, (fn. 11) Awcott (fn. 12) (xvi cent.).
MANOR AND BOROUGH
ALVECHURCH seems to have been originally included in 20 hides at Westhill (Wærsetfelda), Coston. Hackett (Coftune), (fn. 13) and Rednal (Wreodanhale), (fn. 14) granted by Offa in 780 to the monastery of Bredon, (fn. 15) for later registers of Worcester Priory state that Offa gave to the church at Bredon, Alvechurch with the vills of Westhill, Coston, and Rednal, (fn. 16) but no separate charter has been found for Alvechurch. This estate passed like the rest of the possessions of the monastery of Bredon to the see of Worcester, and the 20 hides (fn. 17) were given by Aelhun (Ealhhun) Bishop of Worcester in 849, in exchange for a promise of protection, to King Berhtwulf for five lives, with reversion to the church of Worcester, (fn. 18) and Berhtwulf granted them to his thegn (minister) Egbert under the same conditions. (fn. 19) The land was restored to the church of Worcester in 930 by King Athelstan, (fn. 20) and a good argument for the identification of this estate with that afterwards known as Alvechurch is afforded by a later statement that Athelstan gave 'Ælfgythe Cyrcan,' as 20 hides, to the church of Worcester. (fn. 21) In 1086 Alvechurch with its four berewicks, Coston Hackett, Westhill, Tonge and Overton, was numbered among the possessions of the see of Worcester. (fn. 22) It remained in the possession of successive bishops (fn. 23) until 1648, when it was sold by the Parliamentary Trustees to William Combe, (fn. 24) the site of the manor and the park being sold at the same date to John Combe and Richard Quiney. (fn. 25)
At the Restoration the manor was recovered by the bishop, and remained with the see of Worcester until 1860, when it was taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 26) who are now lords of the manor. (fn. 27) Court leets for the manor were held yearly until about 1860.
Henry II seems to have afforested part of the manor of Alvechurch and annexed it to the neighbouring forest of Feckenham, (fn. 28) but Richard I freed 6½ acres within the bishop's manor of Alvechurch from fines due for their clearing (fn. 29) and confirmed the manor to the bishop. (fn. 30) John granted the bishop the same liberties in his manor of Alvechurch as he had in his other manors, (fn. 31) and freed 34½ acres there from payments for clearing and waste, pleas, and from all other forest exactions. (fn. 32)
In 1531 Alvechurch was exempted from contributing to the expenses of knights going to Parliament. (fn. 33)
The exact date of the formation of the mesne borough of Alvechurch is unknown, but the grant of burghal rights may have synchronized with or followed the establishment of a market and fair in the 13th century. In Bishop Giffard's Register (fn. 34) (1268–1302) the borough is recognized, and in the survey of Feckenham Forest given in the Beauchamp Chartulary it is admitted that the portion of Alvechurch which lay 'in foro' belonged to the see. By 1288 the rent (fn. 35) of the borough was valued at £4 2s. 9d. In 1299 there were about seventy-four burgage tenements, and their rents (fn. 36) ranged from 10d. to 15d. each. Three years after the pleas and perquisites (fn. 37) of the court of the manor and of the borough were worth £6 0s. 6d. The burgesses do not seem to have ever acquired any real independence, and the organization of the borough was mainly of the usual manorial type.
In 1529–30 the bishop received £3 18s. 10½d. from burgages in Alvechurch and 18s. 10d. in respect of two new ones. (fn. 38) A view of frankpledge was taken in 1537, in which William Staffordshire is stated to have paid 10d. for one burgage, and Thomas Aunge is mentioned as holding another of the bishop. In 1540–1 the rents of burgages in Alvechurch amounted to £3 18s. 10½d. (fn. 39) Bishop Silvester (1498–1521) granted a lease of a burgage in Alvechurch to Thomas Porter, who fifteen years later bequeathed it to his son William Porter. The latter granted it to Henry Porter, who in the reign of Elizabeth took proceedings against John Phillipps to recover possession of it. (fn. 40) The borough of Alvechurch never returned a member to Parliament. The town was governed by a bailiff chosen annually at the court leet of the manor and appeared at the lord's court by a jury of its own inhabitants distinct from that of the manor. (fn. 41) It was still styled a borough in 1808. (fn. 42)
In 1239 Walter, Bishop of Worcester obtained from Henry III a grant of a yearly fair at Alvechurch for three days at the feast of St. Lawrence (10 August) and a weekly market on Wednesdays. (fn. 43) The grant was renewed to Bishop Godfrey in 1270, when the market day was changed to Saturday. (fn. 44) The market had entirely disappeared before the end of the 18th century, (fn. 45) but two fairs were then held, one on St. Lawrence's Day and the other on 22 April, the latter being famous for the number of sheep and lambs sold. (fn. 46) The April and August fairs continued until about the middle of the 19th century (fn. 47); but in 1850 a fair was held on 3 May, and statute fairs on Lady Day and Michaelmas Day. In 1872 only one statute fair was held in October. At the present day there are two fairs held at Alvechurch, one on the first Wednesday in May and the other on the first Wednesday in October. They have, however, declined so much in importance that it is impossible to say there is any ownership in them at all. (fn. 48)
In 1299 the Bishop of Worcester owned two mills in one house in Alvechurch on the River Arrow. (fn. 49) They are mentioned in a survey made in 1299 as worth £3 16s. yearly, (fn. 50) but in the reign of Henry VIII only brought in £1 6s. 8d. (fn. 51) At the time of the sale of the bishops' lands in 1647 one mill was sold to Henry Haynes for £45 3s. 4d. (fn. 52); the second, called the Town Mill, passed with the manor in 1648 to William Combe. (fn. 53) There are still two water corn-mills on the banks of the River Arrow, the one north and the other south of the village of Alvechurch.
The Bishops of Worcester had a PARK at Alvechurch in the reign of Henry II, (fn. 54) when one Reynold held half a hide of land for the service of being park-keeper. (fn. 55) In 1213, the see of Worcester being then in his hands, the king granted to Robert de Rochelle (Ropella) three deer from the park of Alvechurch. (fn. 56) Free warren was granted to the Bishop of Worcester in 1254 and in 1255. (fn. 57) According to the above-mentioned survey of 1299 the park was then rated at 49s. 8d. and contained two ponds with islands in them. The fishing was worth 5s. and the pasture of the islands 2s. (fn. 58) Bishop Giffard increased the park, giving to Nicholas de Norfolk land in Gomenhull in exchange for that added to the park. (fn. 59) In 1529–30 and in 1535 the yearly rent of the park was £8. (fn. 60) On 13 June 1538 Bishop Latimer wrote to Cromwell that he had intended to have asked for a good portion of the demesne lands of Bordesley, apparently to add to the park at Alvechurch. (fn. 61) Edward VI confirmed the park to the bishop in 1552–3. (fn. 62) In 1648 it was sold with the palace to John Combe and Richard Quiney. (fn. 63) In 1652 there were proceedings in the Court of Exchequer between Richard Booth, then owner of Alvechurch Park, and the rector of Alvechurch with respect to tithes. (fn. 64) The park had been converted into farms before the end of the 18th century. (fn. 65)
The Bishops of Worcester had a palace at Alvechurch, at which they frequently resided. William of Blois died there in 1236. (fn. 66) Bishop Godfrey Giffard was often there, (fn. 67) many of his letters and deeds being dated at Alvechurch. (fn. 68) Reginald Brian, Bishop of Worcester, was at Alvechurch on 1 December 1356, when he received a letter from the Black Prince giving an account of the battle of Poictiers, (fn. 69) and he died there of the Plague in 1361. (fn. 70) Leland in his Itinerary mentions the palace and says, 'this place is made all of Tymbre and seemeth to be noe peice of ould Worke. It was lately in Decay and Bishop Latimer repaired it.' (fn. 71) In 1648 'the site of the manor or mansion-house of Alvechurch' was sold by the trustees under the Act of 1646 to John Combe and Richard Quiney, (fn. 72) but at the Restoration it was recovered by the bishop. The palace soon afterwards fell into disrepair and by 1780 had been pulled down. (fn. 73) A chapel in the manor of Alvechurch is mentioned in 1447. (fn. 74)
BARNT GREEN (Brante, xiv cent.; Grene, xv cent.; Greane, xvi cent.; Barnte Green, xvii cent.) was probably included in Alvechurch in the early days of its history. It is first mentioned as a separate manor in 1450–1, when William Cecil and his wife Margaret conveyed it to William Cumberford. (fn. 75) The next owner mentioned is Christopher St. Germain, who demised it for forty years to William Willington in 1527–8. (fn. 76) William seems to have acquired half the manor in fee before 1542, when he made some settlement with regard to it to which his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Edward Boughton were parties. (fn. 77) Stephen Agard and his wife Elizabeth conveyed a moiety of the manor in 1547–8 to William Willington. (fn. 78) The latter apparently settled this manor on his youngest daughter Catherine, who married three times. (fn. 79) She and her third husband Anthony Throckmorton were dealing with land in Alvechurch in 1586, (fn. 80) and in 1589 Catherine, then a widow, with the consent of her sons John, Thomas and George, sold the manor to Anthony Tirringham and John Catesby, (fn. 81) and in the following year they sold it to Thomas Ridley, D.C.L., and Margaret his wife. (fn. 82) In 1660 the manor, then for the first time called Barnt Green, was conveyed by William Middlemore to Ralph Taylor the elder, Ralph Taylor the younger and William Moore. (fn. 83) Barnt Green seems, however, to have belonged to Henry Taylor, father of the younger Ralph, as he is called 'of Barn Green' in the Worcester visitation of 1682. (fn. 84) The younger Ralph died about 1670. (fn. 85) Shortly after the manor of Barnt Green seems to have passed to the Moore family. William Moore of Barnt Green died in 1714 and seems to have been succeeded by Edward Moore, who died in 1746. (fn. 86) An Edward Moore lived at Barnt Green in 1781, (fn. 87) but he and his ancestors were probably only tenants of the manor, for William Waldron was dealing with it in 1763. (fn. 88) William seems to have been succeeded by four coheiresses—Ann wife of John Taylor, Mary wife of John Raybould, Elizabeth wife of Nathaniel Wright, and Sarah Waldron, since they were dealing with the manor in 1766. (fn. 89) John Taylor was in possession about 1814, (fn. 90) but in 1816 Joshua Yates and Ann Yates sold the manor to Other Archer Earl of Plymouth. (fn. 91) All manorial rights at Barnt Green have long since fallen into abeyance.
It seems to have remained part of the demesne of the Bishops of Worcester until one of them gave it with his niece to William de Salesweres. (fn. 95) Thomas de Hopwood was impleaded for this manor by William of Blois, Bishop of Worcester (1218–36), but Thomas died while the suit was pending. (fn. 96) The bishop probably recovered it, for Bishop Giffard was in possession in 1299. (fn. 97) Hopwood seems again to have passed out of the hands of the bishop, for in 1344–5 Thomas de Grotene released to Bishop Wulstan all his claim in the manor of Hopwood. (fn. 98) After this date Hopwood probably merged into the manor of Alvechurch.
An estate at Hopwood was held in the 12th century by the lords of Talton, William de Armscote having acquired it before 1182 by exchange with Hamme and Roger for land in Fladbury. (fn. 99) It was held early in the 13th century by William son of Auger de Talton under the Bishop of Worcester's manor of Tredington. (fn. 100) It was evidently closely connected with the manor of Talton in Tredington, for it was held like that manor under Auger de Talton by Robert Waleraund in 1272–3, (fn. 101) and in 1299 Robert le Chaumbre held a hide of land at Hopwood. (fn. 102)
At the date of the Domesday Survey Urse D'Abitot owned a hide of land at OSMERLEY (Osmerlie, xi cent.; Osemeresleia, xii cent.) in Alvechurch, and Herlebald held it of him. Attached to this estate was a house in Worcester worth 16d. and a saltpan in Droitwich paying a rent of 12 'mits' of salt. There was also half a league (lewa) of wood. (fn. 103) The overlordship of this land remained with the Beauchamps, the descendants of Urse, until the end of the 12th century, when the estate was granted to the abbey of Bordesley. (fn. 104)
Urse's under-tenant Herlebald also held the manor of Stone in 1086, and Osmerley passed with that manor from him to the family of Stanes. William de Stanes gave the estate about the middle of the 12th century to the abbey of Bordesley at a rent of 4 marks, and his gift was confirmed in 1178 by his son Walter, (fn. 105) and in 1200–1 by his grandson William. (fn. 106) This grant was confirmed by various members of the Beauchamp family, as overlords of the fee. (fn. 107)
It remained with the abbey of Bordesley until the dissolution of the house in 1538, (fn. 108) and was granted in 1542 as land at Alvechurch, together with the other lands of the abbey, to Andrew Lord Windsor. (fn. 109) Land at Alvechurch still belongs to his descendant, the Earl of Plymouth, but the name Osmerley has disappeared.
The early history of WESTHILL (Waersetfelda, viii cent.; Warstelle, xi cent.; Wasthull, xiii cent.) has been given under the manor of Alvechurch. At the date of the Domesday Survey Westhill was one of the berewicks attached to that manor, (fn. 110) and probably remained a part of the bishop's demesne until 1243–4, when the bishop granted land at Alvechurch to William de Norfolk and his wife Prudence. (fn. 111) Hugh de Norfolk sold an estate at Alvechurch to William son of William de Westhill in 1273–4. (fn. 112) He gave a messuage and land in Alvechurch to his eldest son William in 1275–6, (fn. 113) and the latter granted the same estate to his son, another William, in 1282–3. (fn. 114)
In 1283 William de Westhill and Matthew Cheker or del Excheker released to the Bishop of Worcester all their right to a messuage and 3 carucates of land in Westhill. (fn. 115) This grant was confirmed by the Crown in 1289, (fn. 116) but in the following year William de Westhill complained that Matthew Cheker had fraudulently obtained a fine conveying this estate to him, and that the conveyance to the bishop was made without his consent and to the disinheritance of his son William. (fn. 117) Judgement was given for William, but he seems never to have recovered the estate. In 1289 the bishop obtained from the commonalty of Westhill a release of all their right to common at Westhill. (fn. 118)
From that time Westhill seems to have been part of the manor of Alvechurch, and is possibly to be identified with the land of the Bishop of Worcester called 'hyghe Wastels,' mentioned in a deed of 1546. (fn. 119) In 1648 it was sold with the manor as part of the demesne called Wastills or Wastehills. (fn. 120) Its site is still marked by Westhill and Westhill Farm in the north of the parish.
Nicholas de Warwick was in possession of land at Alvechurch at the end of the 13th century. One hide he had acquired before 1299 of Nicholas de Norfolk, another half-hide he had bought of Hugh de Norfolk, whose predecessor in possession had been Hugh le Boteler. (fn. 121) Nicholas also held a messuage at 'Gouchmonesgreen' and half a virgate at Mornhill. (fn. 122) Nicholas de Warwick, by an undated charter, gave to Sir Thomas Blaunfront all the lands in Alvechurch which his father had held. (fn. 123) Thomas forfeited all his possessions about 1324, (fn. 124) but they were evidently restored to him or a descendant of the same name, for in 1329 Thomas Blaunfront obtained a grant of free warren at 'Gomondesgreen' at Alvechurch. (fn. 125) Thomas was still in possession of land at Alvechurch in 1332–3, (fn. 126) and purchased land at 'Gomondesgreen' in 1358. (fn. 127) By a deed, without date, he acquired land in Alvechurch and 'La Tange' from John Pichard. (fn. 128) Nothing further is known of this estate.
At the beginning of the 13th century Ralph Hacket was holding of William de Beauchamp a hide of land in Alvechurch, (fn. 129) which had probably been given to his ancestor William Hacket (see Coston Hackett) by Bishop Simon (1125–50). (fn. 130) Little is known of the descent of this estate, but it seems to have passed with the manor of Coston Hackett, of which it probably formed part, to the Leicester family. (fn. 131) It is mentioned for the last time in 1431, when it was held by Henry Leicester. (fn. 132)
The church of ST. LAWRENCE consists of a chancel 42 ft. by 20 ft., nave 51 ft. by 23 ft., north and south aisles, with chapels of two bays on either side of the chancel, about 75 ft. in total length by 16½ ft. wide on the north side and 10½ ft. on the south, and a west tower 15½ ft. square. These measurements are all internal.
The whole of the church, with the exception of the north aisle and the tower, was rebuilt in 1859 by the late Mr. W. Butterfield. The north aisle is of 14th-century date with later 15th-century insertions at the west end, and appears to have replaced a 12th-century building. The nave was probably of the same size as that of this building and had a 13th-century chancel to the east. The north arcade is modern, except the west respond, and is in the style of the 12th century, but in the rest of the church the later styles have been used. The tower is a rebuilding of the 15th-century work, bearing on the west face the date 1676.
The chancel is lit by lancet windows, and in the south wall is a sedile with a label enriched with re-used 'dog-tooth' ornament. Further west is a tomb recess of late date, partly original. Arcades of two bays with pointed arches open into the side chapels, and the chancel arch has responds of clustered shafts.
The modern north arcade of the nave is of three bays and has heavy round columns with scalloped capitals. The south arcade consists of three large bays and a small western one in the style of the 13th century. The clearstory is lighted by four windows on each side.
The east window of the north aisle is of five lights; the tracery appears to be later than the jambs, and may have been part of the east chancel window mentioned by Dr. Prattinton in 1826. (fn. 133)
The first two north windows, which are largely original, are each of two lights, with cusped tracery under two-centred heads. Between is a recess containing a tomb. The north door has a plain ogee arch, and was blocked in 1869. The third north window is of three lights with 15th-century tracery under a four-centred head, and the west window is modern.
The south doorway, placed very close to the west end, is of 12th-century work re-used. It is recessed in two orders and has an original label with billet ornament and diapering and modern jamb shafts. A similar porch covers the doorway.
The tower is of three stages with diagonal buttresses to its western angles carried up to the parapet string, and a stair turret in the north-east angle. The doorway at the foot into the tower was blocked by Mr. Butterfield and an outer doorway substituted. The tower arch is of two continuous orders, and above it are marks of the former roof, and a window of two lights opening into the nave. The west window is of three lights with vertical tracery under a four-centred head. The jambs are evidently part of the original 15th-century work, perhaps reworked, but the tracery appears to be later. The moulded string-course around the tower passes over the head as a crocketed label.
In the second stage are rectangular lights to the north, south and west, and over the last is a disused clock-dial in a square panel with an inscription above and the date 1676. A similar panel on the south face with an angel sculptured above it is partially hidden by a modern skeleton clock-face. The bellchamber is lighted by windows of two lights each. The parapet is a 17th-century balustrade with crocketed angle and intermediate pinnacles. The roofs are all modern, those of the nave and chancel being gabled and open timbered below.
The rood screen is said to be old, but it is covered with modern paint.
The tomb in the north aisle is set in a wide recess flanked by diagonal pinnacles and having an ogee cinquefoiled arch crocketed and terminating in a carved finial. The whole appears to be work of about 1400. The recess contains an effigy of a knight in plate armour and jupon, with legs crossed, and two angels supporting the cushion. The head rests on a peaked bascinet with the visor raised. His shield, hung by a strap, on the left side is blank. A pleated short skirt reaches to the knee and is buttoned down the front. The legs and arms are cased in plate and the feet in pointed sollerets.
In the east part of the north aisle is a brass to Philip Chalwyn, gentleman usher to Henry VIII, died 1524, consisting of an armed figure with gauntlets at the feet, and four shields: the first of Chalwyn charged with a cheveron between three molets; the second has the arms of Chalwyn quartering three defaced shields, impaling quarterly (1) and (4) three roses, (2) and (3) a fesse between three lions; the third shield bears the impaled quarterly coat last mentioned; the fourth is quartered, the first quarter Chalwyn, the second and fourth defaced, the third three fusils in a fesse.
In the chancel is the gravestone of a priest with a cross flory on a stepped calvary. On one side is a chalice and host and on the other a shield of the arms of John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester (1446–76): Paly azure and gules a cheveron argent with three crosslets gules thereon and a mitre or in the chief. Other late 17th and 18th-century stones and brass inscriptions also remain.
There are eight bells, six by Jos. Smith of Edgbaston, 1711, rehung and increased by two in 1890.
The communion plate is composed of two cups and patens of 1861 and a silver credence paten and cover and two silver-mounted cruets of later date; the old plate is said to have been stolen about 1835.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) mixed entries 1545 to 1652; (ii) baptisms and burials 1653 to 1797 and marriages to 1754; (iii) baptisms and burials 1798 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1812.
There is a Mission church at Rowney Green. In Alvechurch is a Baptist chapel built in 1860, and at Rowney Green a Wesleyan chapel.
At the date of the Domesday Survey there was a priest at Alvechurch. (fn. 134) The advowson belonged to the Bishop of Worcester, and it has remained with the see of Worcester until the present day. (fn. 135)
In 1288 the bishop instituted Robert de Wich to the church of Alvechurch, (fn. 136) and in the following year granted him a licence to be absent for three years and to let his benefice to farm. (fn. 137) In 1291 the church was taxed at the rate of £20, (fn. 138) and in 1328 the Bishop of Worcester appointed the Dean of Wich to inquire into the structural defects of the church, more particularly the chancel. (fn. 139)
There was a chantry of Saint Mary in the parish church of Alvechurch, which owned land in the parish. There is no record of the donors, but it appears that at the date of the suppression of the chantries in the reign of Edward VI the lands of this chantry were worth £5 2s. 8d. a year. (fn. 140) These lands were granted to John Hereford and William Wilson in 1549, (fn. 141) and afterwards passed into the possession of Thomas Lewknor, who died in 1571, having settled them on his wife Jane, and after her death on his son Nicholas and his wife Margaret. (fn. 142) Nicholas Lewknor died without issue, and these lands passed to Jane, his sister and heir, (fn. 143) who married Anthony Sheldon of Broadway. (fn. 144) Anthony died seised of the chantry lands in 1584, when his son William succeeded. (fn. 145)
—The grammar school is regulated by a scheme under the Endowed Schools Acts, 19 May 1899. The endowment consists of 11 a. 1 r. 26 p., known as Birchy Fields; 1 a. 1 r. 23 p. at Hopwood, and five cottages, producing in rents £80 a year; £779 Midland Railway 2½ per cent. stock, arising from the sales in 1901 and 1902 of the old schoolhouse erected in 1742 with a legacy by will of the Rev. William Wood, D.D., and land adjoining; and £222 10s. 8d. consols, representing for the most part accumulations of income and proceeds of sale in 1883 of a garden at Withybed Green. The sums of stock are held by the official trustees, producing together £25 0s. 6d. yearly.
The scheme provides that a sum of £50 shall be applied towards the maintenance of an upper department in connexion with a public elementary school, and that the residue of the net income shall be applied in exhibitions.
A sum of about £16 a year from the income of the distributive charities is also applied for educational purposes, and the official trustees also hold a sum of £40 consols derived under the will of the Rev. John Welch, dated in 1800, the dividends of £1 a year being applicable towards the support of the Sunday school.
The distributive charities comprise the following charities, namely:—
Christian Smith, founded by will, 1634, consisting of an annuity of 20s. issuing out of lands and tenements near Rowney Green.
Thomas Jolliffe, will, 1693, annuity of 20s. paid by the Earl of Plymouth out of the Coston estates.
Job Marston, will, 1701, being 20s. received from the parish of Yardley.
John Smith, deed, 1713, being 20s. issuing out of a house in London Street, Alvechurch.
Parish House, cottage, and garden, no. 31 on the tithe map, producing in weekly rents £7 16s. yearly.
Edward Moore, deed, 1746, consisting of an annuity of £2 10s. charged on land known as Pinton's Croft.
The Rev. John Welch, will, 1800, trust fund, £43 15s. 1d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £1 1s. 8d., to be applied in the distribution of bread.
William Smith, will, proved in 1838, trust fund, £69 0s. 8d. consols, producing £1 14s. 4d. a year.
Out of the net income of these charities about £16 a year is applied for educational purposes, and the remainder is distributed among the poor in bread and other articles in kind.
The hospital of Nicholas Lewknor, founded by will, dated in 1580, was erected by Thomas Coploie under Letters Patent, 28 April 1588, upon 2 acres of land devised by the donor's will for a master, six brethren and two sisters. In the result of certain proceedings in Chancery an annuity of £33 6s. 8d. was settled as an endowment, which was redeemed in 1884 by the transfer of £1,111 8s. 3d. consols, now producing £27 15s. 8d. yearly, to the official trustees, who also hold a sum of £366 13s. 4d. consols, producing £9 3s. 4d. yearly, as a repair fund. The real estate consists of nine cottages and gardens, of which six are occupied by inmates of the hospital rent free, the remainder being let at £16 a year.