Alvechurch Village - History

[Alvechurch Village Hall] 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 traces of 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 towards the end of 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. And some database programmers.

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'.

[St Laurence church, Alvechurch] 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 so the tradition continues. It no longer blocks the roads but it fills the Square, the courtyard in front of the shops, and the pub car parks for an evening. In the morning it has vanished.