The Ancient Roman Town of Alcester
We invite you to come and explore the ancient market town of Alcester. Meander down the streets and soak up the authentic atmosphere of delightfully preserved buildings, lanes and tueries that provide a superb backdrop to the vibrant bustle of a picturesque market town steeped in history.
From Roman times to Modern, Alcester has been a town of markets, commerce and community.Alcester was founded by the Romans as a walled fort and military camp in about AD 47 at the junction of two Roman roads but soon expanded outside the defensive walls to become a bustling market town, with streets, temples and workshops.The Romans traded across Europe bringing in goods such as Samian ware pottery – some magnificent examples of which can be found in Alcester’s Roman museum – and exporting goods such as wool, leather and minerals.There have been numerous archaeological digs in the town and Alcester is one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. The Roman Museum, opened in 2004, looks after some of the best of Alcester’s Roman heritage and offers free entry.
Grade 1 listed Memorial Town Hall
Alcester has continued as a bustling market town and a hub of commerce and community through the centuries. Indeed, Alcester’s Grade 1 listed Memorial Town Hall was built in 1618 as a market hall to replace a previous outdoor market. The Lord of the Manor of Alcester, Sir Fulke Greville III, provided the sum of £300 for the building of a market hall to shelter traders and customers and provide a home for the Court Leet to check the quality of the produce. More information about its history can be found at Alcester Town hall website.
The Court leet originated in England in the Court Baron, a Court authorised by the King and presided over by the Baron or landowner. It mainly dealt with matters relating to the duties and services owed by the peasants or villeins (not Freemen) to the Lord of the Manor or Baron. The Court Baron’s records, for example, would have details of how many day’s service to the Baron each villein/serf owed, and how and when it was paid. It also would have dealt with personal actions within the Manor – one person against another – up to a claim amount of 40 shillings. (£2). Freeholders were not usually subject to its jurisdiction, but were liable under Common Law in other Manorial Courts. Alcester is one of few towns that still celebrate the tradition of having a Court Leet. Visit the Alcester Court Leet website to find out more.
Sir Fulke Greville
Sir Fulke Greville who was born in Alcester in 1554, a mere ten years before Shakespeare, was one of the most exceptional men of his age.
Among an extraordinary list of achievements he was a judge, a rear admiral in the Navy, an Army captain, an ‘intelligencer’ who travelled all over Europe recruiting spies for the Crown, a champion horseman, Queen Elizabeth’s favourite courtier and, in his latter years, Chancellor of the Exchequer under James I. As far as Greville himself was concerned, however, his true calling was in the arts and he is better known as a poet and a playright. Indeed,according to a mid-17th century biography his personal plea before his death in 1628 was that he wished ‘to be known to posterity under no other notions than of “Shakespeare’s master”.
Visit St Nicholas church with its 14th century tower and unusually placed clock and discover there tomb of his grandparents.