The History of Albrighton

The origins of Albrighton can be traced back to the end of the sixth century.

The name derives from the Anglo­ Saxon meaning the farm or settlement of Aethelbeorht1. Prior to the Norman Conquest Albrighton was held in two manors by the Saxons Algar and Godhit. Algar was probably Alfgar , the son of Leofric Ill, Earl of Mercia, and Lady (Countess) Godiva.

In 1066 the Saxons had fled and William the Conqueror gave Shropshire to Roger de Montgomery who gave Albrighton to Normannus Venator, (Norman the Hunter) a forester. The Domesday Book of 1086 records “Albricston” as being “waste” (cultivated land which had been allowed to fall fallow); the surrounding area was royal forest. It is probable that a church had been established about this time or even earlier. However, the present church of St. Mary Magdalene was completed in 1181 and is in the Early English and Decorated styles.

The manor of Albrighton came into the possession of the de Pitchford family. In 1232 a royal charter was granted making Albrighton a borough with its own Corporation and permitting markets and fairs to be held. Another charter regulating fairs was granted in 1303. The manor passed successively into the hands of the Tregoz, de la Warr, Troutbeck and Talbot families; the Talbots became Earls of Shrewsbury. The royal charter was renewed by Charles II in 1664, setting out at great length the constitution of the ancient borough of Albrighton. Because of the great numbers of people attracted by fairs they were often the scenes of riotous behaviour, so the privilege of holding a fair was granted by royal charter. The 1664 charter granted a weekly market and two fairs, in May and October. All fines from the court of Pyepowder , fees and stallage were to be paid to Lady Talbot.

In England a Court of Pyepowder, from the Old French pied puldre – an itinerant trader, had jurisdiction to adjudicate on offences and disputes arising from the fair or market.

In 1597 three Pattingham women , attending the Albrighton fair, were sentenced to be placed in the stocks for drunken behaviour. A bill for 8d, the cost of providing them with food during their sentence, was sent to their village. The stocks and lock-up were finally abolished in 1845 and the pinfold, a cattle enclosure or pen, relocated.

Apart from being a centre for markets and fairs for the surrounding agricultural area, Albrighton had had a number of local industries before the coming of the railway in 1849. In the early 1600’s there had been a thriving button-making industry, in the 18th century it was clock-making and by the 19th century brick­ making. However, Albrighton’s main industry was predominately agriculture. The focus of the parish remained the church of St. Mary Magdalene; the area around it is now part of the separate Donington and Albrighton Conservation Area.