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We would like to thank all those who have given support to this project from the local community, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission, the Pond Conservation Trust, Alvecote and Shuttington Parish Council, Maurice Arnold, and all the contractors and friends, family and volunteers who have worked on the site and given us advice and support.

We are developing Alvecote Wood according to our Woodland Management Plan that has been agreed with and grant-aided by the Forestry Commission under the English Woodland Grant Scheme.

Are you another woodland owner needing advice? Would you like to read our Tree Safety Policy?

The Ownership of Alvecote Wood

Bluebells at Alvecote Wood

We have pieced together what we know of the ownership of Alvecote Wood largely from documents kindly provided to use by the vendor's solicitor, but also from descriptions of records held by the National Archive.

Domesday Book

It seems likely that Alvecote Wood formed part of a parcel of land held by tenants from the Count of Meulan around Shuttington, described therein as 1/2 league long and 6 furlongs wide - larger than the current wood.

12th to 17th Centuries

The land around Alvecote was held by Robert "Bossu" Beaumont, the Earl of Leicester. His brother was Earl of Meulan and his tenant, Thomas Burdet, founded the Priory in 1195. The original grant was five hides of land including woodland and a water mill. The monks then built up the manor of Alvecote and Shuttington to a sizeable area, farmed mainly for sheep.

The Priory and associated lands, which almost certainly included Alvecote Wood, were surrendered at dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536. The land was briefly in the hands of several owners, none of whom could work it viably, and it reverted to the Earls of Leicester.

By 1579 the land came under the ownership of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He was married to the widow of the Earl of Essex. He gifted the land to Queen Elizabeth I who leased it back to Lady Leicester. Thus it passed into the effective ownership of the Earls of Essex. The land ownership was granted to the Earl of Essex by King William III in 1697.

The Roby family farmed as tenants of the Earl of Essex from 1715 to 1874, farming 400 acres, and gave their name to Robey's Lane. This farm almost certainly included Alvecote Wood and the fields to the east of Robey's Lane. They lived at Alvecote Priory. (Their names are variously spelt with and without an 'e'.) This land, originally part of the priory manor included land on both sides of Robey's Lane up to the Polesworth Road, and thus would have included Alvecote Wood.

1650 to 1900

We know that by 1805 the woodland had assumed its current shape, with a meadow to the north, now Alvecote Stud, and otherwise surrounded by farmland. The familiar shape is seen on the 1805 sketches made by the surveyors undertaking research for the first Ordnance Survey maps published in 1834.

However, recently we have researched the geography of the area further, helped by access to the deeds of sale of the Priory lands from 1650. Examining these deeds in conjunction with old maps has allowed us to conclude that the woods were in fact in their current shape in 1650, with the majority of the wooded area on the other side of Robey's Lane - this is the map we have drawn from our research, and you can read more about it on our blog.

The mature trees on site now are mostly around 100 to 150 years old. There are few trees that are 200 years old, and very few between 20 and 100 years. This suggests that during the latter half of the 19th Century, the mature trees were felled - probably for the mining and canal industries coming into the area at that time. The mature trees today were saplings at that time.

Early 20th Century

Land from the estate of the Earl of Essex was sold to the Tamworth Colliery Company in 1911 (the conveyance document dates from 1917). It had previously been leased to Tamworth Colliery Company since Alvecote (Tamworth) Colliery was opened in 1875.

This parcel of land appears to have been sold to a number of buyers, including Colonel J C Chayter of Pooley Hall in 1918. Although Alvecote Wood is not mentioned specifically in the 1918 sale, it forms part of a parcel of land later conveyanced in 1945 to Brigadier D'Arcy Chayter (see below) , that included land known to have been held by the Earl of Essex (including Alvecote Priory). It is therefore likely that Alvecote Wood was indeed part of the Alvecote Priory estate owned by the Earl of Essex and sold to Tamworth Colliery Company in 1911, then sold on again 1918 to Colonel JC Chayter.

1945

A conveyance document shows that Brigadier D'Arcy Chayter consolidated land from a number of vendors into a single large estate based upon Pooley Hall. This included land owned by Colonel JC Chayter, the owner of Pooley Hall Colliery, and this latter land included Alvecote Wood, Alvecote Stud and the fields on the eastern (Polesworth) side of Robey's Lane. In 1952, the right of way across a bridge across the Coventry Canal located just to the north of the Alvecote Wood boundary was ceded to the predecessor of British Waterways.

1962

The executors of Brigadier Chayter sold a large portion of the 1945 estate, including Alvecote Wood, to RD Parr. This was sold on in 1964 by the executors of Mr Parr to Mr Holloway, who also owned the arable and agricultural land surrounding the Wood.

1988

Various parts of the former Pooley Hall estate were sold to different land owners, and this included in 1988, the sale of Alvecote Wood to a local resident for use for rare breed goats. A planning application was approved for a mobile home on the site for agricultural use, and also conversion of the existing building to a workshop, storage and office in 1994 - these options were never taken up.

1998

The land was sold to a firm of pension trustees. A lease was prepared by this form for lease to a local resident (WE and C Parker) for 2 years, for grazing of livestock, but it is not clear whether this lease was ever enacted (we don't have a signed copy). We know that some bird nest boxes were placed on site at this time, but not of any further management undertaken. We were contacted in 2009 by Mr Parker's son who reported he was "overjoyed" with the work we had done to date and that his father, who was always very enthusiastic about "his little piece of England" and passionate about conservation, would have been delighted that we are doing a lot of the work that he wanted to do himself.

2007

Alvecote Wood was bought by ourselves for development as a wildlife site and community resource.

If anybody has any information about landowners that we don't know about, then we'd love to hear from you - please contact us!