Alcester

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Overseas possessions


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ALCESTER

Incorporated into : 1974 Stratford-on-Avon

Arms (crest) of Alcester

Official blazon

Arms : Gules two Roman Swords in saltire proper hilts and pommels Or over all a Cross engrailed of the last on a Chief Azure three Mitres Argent.
Crest : On a Wreath of the Colours out of a Wreath of Oak proper fructed Or a demi-Bull Gules armed and unguled Gold holding between the legs an Escutcheon Azure charged with three Needles points downward in fess Argent.
Motto: 'DIRIGERE NON DOMINARI' - To direct but not to dominate

Origin/meaning

The arms were officially granted on March 16, 1955.

The basic colours of red and gold, are those of the Beauchamp family, who were Lords of Alcester from about 1270 until 1503, and by whom the town's charters were obtained. These colours are the same as those of the arms of the Marquess of Hertford, the present Lord of the Manor of Alcester, whose seat, Ragley Hall, is near Alcester, and whose family arms of Seymour are also predominantly red and gold. The gold engrailed cross comes from the arms of Fulke Greville, who married the eventual heiress of the last Beauchamp Lord of Alcester. Their tomb, with fine painted alabaster effigies, is in Alcester parish church.

The two Roman swords commemorate the importance of Alcester in the Romam period. Alcester stood on Rykneild or Icknield Street, which traverses the area of the present Rural District on its way from Bourton-on-the-Water to Lectocetum near Lichfield, and also on the ancient pre-Roman track, the Lower Salt Way, which went from Droitwich through Alcester to Stratford-upon-Avon. Many relics of Roman times have also been found in the District.

The three silver mitres on a blue are taken from the arms of and represent Evesham Abbey. A Benedictine abbey was founded at Alcester in 1138, and this later became a priory attached to the powerful abbey of Evesham. At the Dissolution the buildings came into the hands of Fulke Greville, who used some of the stone to enlarge his manor-house, Beauchamp's Court.

The red bull with gold horns and hoofs represents the agricultural nature of the district and commemorates the cattle market at Alcester, for the holding of which Sir Walter de Beauchamp, brother of William Earl of Warwick, and first of his family to hold Alcester, obtained a charter from King Henry III. The bull holds a blue shield charged with three silver needles, derived from the arms of the Worshipful Company of Needlemakers. Needle making is one of a number of small industries formerly associated with Alcester, and is first recorded in the town in 1678.

The wreath of oak leaves with golden acorns represents the well-wooded character of the Alcester Rural District, and acting also as a reminder that in the reign of Henry II the Royal Forest of Feckenham, stretched from Worcester as far as Alcester.


Literature : Image and information from here