Our area is governed by the River Arrow. The hills on both sides of it drain into it, thus providing a large number of watercourses: some of these are no more than drainage ditches and probably not natural at all.
It is to be expected that when we examine Ordnance Survey maps, the River Arrow will be seen to be a boundary for many manors and parishes; and so will its biggest tributary, the R. Alne
When the Saxons arrived here (or even the Celts before them) they used the little streams which abound as their estate boundaries. They are so used but on the ground as well as on the maps they have to be searched for. Nor do some of them seem to have names: only old documents name them or they are found in the field name of meadows nearby. In dry weather, these boundary streams sometimes dry out but they betray their presence by being deeper than other ditches around and often by the mature look of the hedges running with them and the large number of tree species. most of our parishes possess these important little streams.
Spernall manor separates itself on the north from Studley by the MORTON BROOK , which runs into the Arrow. It had a claim to fame in Morton Bagot parish by powering Morton Bagot mill On Spernall's southern boundary is HAZEL BROOK, little more than a ditch but these ditches have been going steadily deeper for over 1,000 years:it separates Spernall from Sambourne.
Kinwarton manor on its N. W. boundary seemingly follows no natural line until one discovers a tiny stream which makes for the Arrow by Beauchamp Court. It may have had a name but we don't know it.
Haselor, of course, uses the River Alne for a boundary: but it has another, PELHAM BROOK, which provided the two manors there, Upton and Haselor, with a demarcation line. Its name has recently sprung into prominence in Great Alne, where the lane to Haselor is now marked 'Pelham Lane'.
CANE BROOK, which separates Sambourne from Coughton, and SPITTLE BROOK, dividing Alcester and Arrow, are probably known to most of our readers. It is unlikely, however, that the tiny stream in Bidford called SMALL BROOK is generally known to have played an important part in the Middle Ages, viz. as the boundary between the manors of King's Broom and Burnell's Broom. King's Broom eventually became incorporated into the manor of Oversley.
Coughton, as already noted, shares a waterway with Sambourne on its northern boundary. On its southern limit a nameless ditch separates it from Alcester at King's Coughton. This is a well-defined ditch, probably man-made but acting as a drainage channel.
There are other parishes, such as Wixford; and Exhall, which undoubtedly relied on minor streams as boundaries. If a 1" to the mile Ordnance Survey map (now 1½" to the mile) does not give any indication, the 6" map certainly would. It is an interesting hobby to go and look for these little brooks which our forefather's found of such importance.
Autumn 1991 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1991