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Date:1086 - 2015 (c.)

Description:The village of Alrewas could perhaps be described as a village of waterways. It is situated approximately five miles north- east of Lichfield, south of the River Trent and west of the mouth of the River Tame, while at Fradley Junction the Trent and Mersey and the Coventry and Fazeley Canals converge. The name may mean ‘hill by the water’, ‘alder swamp’ or ‘alluvial land with alders’.

At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, the manor was held by the King and consisted of three hides, in acreage some 360 acres. 24 acres of meadow land are recorded, later called Essington Meadow. This meadow would have been common to the use of all the inhabitants in the village. There was a large fishery, unsurprisingly given the physical location of Alrewas next to two rivers and this produced 1,500 eels. Woodland, managed for the purpose of producing timber and fuel amounted to one league by half a league The male population was recorded as 28 of which 20 were farmers, or villeins, one a serf and six were poor peasants called bordars. There was also a priest.

Before and during the Middle Ages the cultivation of the land was carried out using the open field system. Farming activity was supervised and regulated through the manor court and there is an excellent series of mediaeval court rolls for Alrewas in the Staffordshire Record Office, documenting this process of agricultural regulation. Alrewas provides one the of best examples of the open field system in Staffordshire, which largely continued there right up until the beginning of the 19th century, when the surviving parts of the open fields were enclosed.

In 1666, 80 households were assessed for the Hearth Tax in Alrewas, 20 in Orgreave and 37 in Fradley. The largest house at the time was the manor house with 11 hearths. This belonged to John Turton, who owned the manor at that time. Later the Turtons were to move to Orgreave Hall which was probably built about 1668. They sold the manor of Alrewas to the Anson family, later Earls of Lichfield, in 1752. It remained the property of the Earls of Lichfield until 1953 when the estate was sold off.

A church was recorded by the year 822 when Alrewas was chosen to be a prebend by Bishop Aethelwald. The present church, dedicated to All Saints, has Norman features and has undergone a number of architectural changes over the centuries. The church has a ring of eight bells, all of which were recast in the 20th century. However the earliest reference to the Alrewas bells is recorded in the parish register in 1585, with a note that ‘the seconde bell and the greatest bell weare cast at Nottingham by Henry Oldfield, bellfounder’. By the 19th century, there were also Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels in the village.

The building of the canals had an important influence on Alrewas. It contributed to the development of a new settlement at Fradley Junction, providing housing and facilities for those working on canal and barge maintenance and in related trades. Along the canal banks, warehouses and new industries grew up, such as the Midland Counties Cement and Plaster Works. In particular a new cotton spinning mill was built in 1784 to take advantage of the new canal network. It has operated since then with varying degrees of success and producing many different types of product, including tape, flour and cattle food.

The traditional industry in Alrewas, however, as befitting its location was basket making with the willow being supplied from osier beds in the parish.