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Albrighton is a large village (population 4,157 in the 2001 census),(population increasing to 4,326 in the 2011 census) and civil parish in Shropshire, England. It is located 7.5 miles (12.1 km) northwest of Wolverhampton and is best described as a dormitory village for the city. It is 11.3 miles (18.2 km) from Bridgnorth and used to be within the now defunct Bridgnorth district; it is now part of the Shropshire Council unitary authority.
The village has a railway station, which is on the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton Line. Very close by is RAF Cosford and the M54 motorway. The village is the most easterly settlement in Shropshire. Immediately to the north is the hamlet and parish of Donington separated from Albrighton by Humphreston (Albrighton) Brook.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book as Albricston(e) or the home/farm of Albric/Aethelbeorht, it received its charter in 1303, which was renewed in 1662 for rather unusual reasons. The charter declared that "because Albrighton (then) adjoined Staffordshire on the east, south and west sides, felons and other malefactors fled Staffordshire to escape prosecution because there was no resident justice of the peace in that part of Shropshire".
The parish church, dedicated to St Mary Magdalene was completed around 1181, and some rebuilding work was done in 1853. It is built of red sandstone in the Norman style. The church contains an alabaster monument to Sir Craig Wilson, as well as the Albrighton Mace donated to the village in 1663, by Lady Mary Talbot. The east window of the church dates from the 14th century. The church also contains the family tomb of the Talbot Family, including the final resting place of Charles Talbot and Francis Talbot, among others.
The church is separated from the extremely close parish church of St Cuthbert (Donington) by Humphreston Brook. The story is that two sisters disagreed about the nature of the architecture of the church and so resolved to build their own churches right next to each other.
Humphreston Brook[note 1] was dammed by a local miller in the 17th century and it now provides the boundary between the two parishes and feeds into Donington Pool which is also part of the Donington and Albrighton Nature Reserve. Blakeway refers to the pond as being called Hall Pool as it was adjacent to Hall Orchard, which was a burial ground for Roman Catholics by the church of St Mary Magdalene.
The High Street has not been altered too much over the years. The half timbered inns, Georgian facades and lime trees still make the street picturesque. Some sources say the lime trees were planted in the 19th century by a Dr Orson Bidwell, others say a former Earl of Shrewsbury was responsible. In all probability both of them planted trees and so may many other people if a tree was damaged or failed. The diary of John Howell, tenant farmer of Beamish and House Farm gives the year of planting as 1832.
For most of the 14th century and into the 15th the manor of Albrighton, together with Ryton, was held by the Carles, Careles or Careless family. The Carles were connected by marriage to the Lestranges (Lords Strange of Blackmere) and the Talbots. Albrighton left the control of this family with the marriage of an heiress to a member of the Corbet family in the reign of Henry VI. The Earl of Shrewsbury is the premier Earl of England and, until 1918, was the biggest land owner in Albrighton. They were originally the Talbot family (later Chetwynd-Talbot), many of whom are buried in Albrighton Church. George Talbot, 9th Earl of Shrewsbury was a Catholic priest and so never married. He died in 1630 aged sixty-three and was buried in the family tomb at the parish church of Albrighton.
Early in the 17th century, Albrighton was noted for making buttons and then in the 18th century clock making flourished. By 1880 it was bricks, but by and large, agriculture was the main industry before the building of the railways.
Albrighton was granted Borough status in 1303 on account of its remoteness from Shrewsbury, Shropshire's county town. That was renewed in 1662 but it seemed to lapse again by the 19th century. A Mace confirming its borough status was discovered for auction at Sotheby's and this was purchased for £359 in 1948. The money was raised by local subscription under the guidance and perseverance of the Rev E E Wright. The Borough status meant that there was a Justice of the Peace who could order the arrest of criminals. A small jail and stocks stood somewhere near to the Crown, whilst a room above it was used for various village meetings and transactions. There was also a Toll House nearby. A press article in 1884 discussing the history of the village's regular fairs stated that they were 'held on a wide open space called the Cross, where the cross roads are in the middle of the [village]. The Market Hall stood in the midst of the space, with the lock-up under it, and the stocks and pinfold close by. Rev. Blakeway's drafts of his History of Albrighton (c.1810-1814) mentions that the Market House 'stands in the middle of the [village] and has two arches'. It is not known when the Toll Shop/House and Market Hall/House were demolished. The Rev Wright thought the buildings were more likely to be on the area of the village green but none of the early tithe maps show these buildings.
The village green was much more important in the first half of 20th century. At the time of the First World War there were swings on it, political meetings were held there, an evangelist lady spent three days a year in a caravan giving out leaflets and talking to people, also a band gave concerts there.
The population of Albrighton in 1800 was 900. In 1900 it was 1200 and was still only 1230 by 1931. Today it is over 4000.
Gas came to Albrighton in 1868 and the Gasometer was at the side of the railway goods yard. The Cosford Waterworks were established in 1857 and water was first supplied to the village in 1895. Electricity came in 1919 initially on overhead poles and later, during the 1950s, the cables were put underground.
In 1967, the A41 road through the village was bypassed and it now curves around the northern part of the village.
In 1969, David Austin opened up the David Austin Plant Centre on the western edge of the village bordering the A464 road. David Austin Roses are renowned the world over for their roses and the site is open to the public providing a large tourist attraction in the village.
In 1998, the village granted the Officers and Men of RAF Cosford the right to exercise through the village. Traditionally, this is known as having the Freedom of a village, town or city, but because Albrighton is not a borough, true freedom status could not be granted. However, every two years, staff from RAF Cosford parade down the High Street.
In July 1992 Anneka Rice and the Challenge Anneka series came to Albrighton and created a fishing pool for disabled people, known as the Albrighton Moat Project. She returned in July 2017 to celebrate 25 years of the project.
In the summer of 2006, Albrighton hit the headlines when a storm broke out and parts of the village were flooded badly.
Albrighton has five educational establishments; Albrighton and Donington Nursery, St Mary's Church of England Primary School, Albrighton Primary School (Formally Albrighton Infant and Junior School), Birchfield School and St Mary's Nursery Group.
The village has four pubs:
- The Crown, Albrighton
- The Old Bush, Albrighton
- The Shrewsbury Arms, Albrighton (originally named as the Talbot Inn)
- The Harp
Social clubs include:
- Albrighton Sports and Social Club
- Albrighton and District Rotary Club
- Albrighton Cricket Club
- Albrighton Tennis Club
- Royal British Legion
- Albrighton Bowling Club
- Albrighton Football Club
- Whilst historically, the references point to this watercourse being called Humphreston Brook, more modern references label it as Albrighton Brook. The BBC refers to Albrighton Brook in its flooding in Albrighton report of 2006 and Severn Trent Water refer to the confluence of the brook at Cosford Bridge into the River Worfe as Albrighton Brook. It also lists the brook as starting at grid ref SJ803 047, which is just after the brook passes under Newport Road by the Fire Station
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- "Rainstorms leave 70 homes flooded". BBC News. 5 July 2006. Retrieved 12 July 2016.