Many people regard English villages as immutable: what you see now, you would have seen 300 or 700 years ago: without, of course, the garage, the Victorian school and the 1920s pub with its mock Gothic gabling. It, also, would have stood on the same spot, with rising ground to the left of its main street and a river to the right. Immutable, unchanging, the very picture of an England which our fore-fathers handed down to us. A romantic picture, indeed, but wrong.
Historical research has shown to us that many English settlements have moved away from their original positions to new sites, perhaps a quarter of a mile away. Not all villages, of course, but many; the reasons are manifold -depopulation of the original settlement, the rise of a new industry, some change in the topography, the whim of the landowner - sometimes a combination of circumstances.
|We have a good example in our own area -
STUDLEY. The original settlement lay in the vicinity of the church and the castle next
door. Opposite the church, on the higher ground between it and the river stood dwellings,
one of which eventually became the 'Bell Inn'. Very gradually the centre moved westwards,
over the River Arrow and towards the main Alcester - Birmingham highway, the old Roman
road~ The Saxons paid little heed to Roman roads but over the centuries Icknield Street's
link to the market centres of Alcester and Birmingham would have been a magnet for the
building of dwellings: the Priory, too, with the hostelry of the'Barley Mow' nearby, would
have increased the traffic along the road.
By the start of the 19th century hardly anything was left of the original Studley - estate maps of the time show the 'Bell Inn' still there, while the new Studley had been built up, aided largely by the needlemaking industry, which had taken 200 years to come of age.
Houses on the site of the original Studley Castle (next to church) the only remaining part of the old Studley village
Studley is a village which has become a small town, with no expansion of the original settlement to be seen. Pubs are a part of our heritage and their names are often indications of our local or national history.
Winter 1995 Index