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The Ship Inn, Alveston - - 881128.jpg
The Ship Inn, Alveston
Grid reference: ST631879
Location: 51°35’20"N, 2°31’59"W
Population: 2,953  (2011)
Post town: Bristol
Postcode: BS35
Dialling code: 01454
Local Government
Council: South Gloucestershire
Thornbury and Yate

Alveston is a village in Gloucestershire; a place of about 3,000 souls about a mile south of Thornbury and ten miles north of Bristol. The wider civil parish also includes the villages of Rudgeway and Earthcott.


The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded the following entry for Alveston:

In Langelei Hundredum tenuit comes Herald Alwestan ibi erant X hidae in dominio, I carruca, XXIII villi, V bordarii cui XXII carrucae, II servii. Ibi ppos..accrevc.. II carucae, V servos. Reddat XII libri ad pensu

Translated, this is: "In Langeley Hundred Earl Harold held Alveston. There were there 10 hides in demesne, 1 plough-team, 23 villeins, 5 bordars for whom there were 22 plough-teams, 2 serfs. There....2 plough-teams, 5 serfs. It returned £12...." This was a very large manor, of 35 households in total.[1]

As the manor had been held by King Harold it was seized into the royal demesne by William the Conqueror and remained in use as a royal hunting park until 1149.

Early in March 1093, King William II (1087–1100) was at the royal manor of Alveston, possibly awaiting his passage across the River Severn on the Aust ferry. He was suddenly attacked by a serious illness, thought to have been a disorder of the stomach or bowels. He was immediately hurried to Gloucester Castle 25 miles to the north, near which the monks of Gloucester Abbey were relied upon to provide a medical cure. The monks assured the King that his illness was a result of the king's sinful behaviour, which persuaded the King to issue a charter of liberties, a pledge to protect and defend the church, abolish simony, abolish unjust laws and deter wrong-doers.[2]

In 1149 the manor was granted by Prince Henry[3] (then acknowledged heir to the throne King Stephen) to Fulk I FitzWarin (died 1171), a powerful Marcher Lord from Shropshire.[4] In the reign of King John, Fulk II's son and heir Fulk III FitzWarin (died 1258) rebelled and as a result the manor escheated to the crown, though in 1230 King Henry III granted the park of Alveston back to Fulk III FitzWarin,[5]

The early 14th-century legend, based on a lost 13th-century ancestral romance relates as follows, regarding the donation of Alveston ("Alleston") to Fulk by King Henry (translated from French):[6]

"King Henry called Fulk, and made him constable of all his host; and placed under his command all the force of his land, and that he should take people enough and go to the march, and drive thence Jervard Droyndoun and his power out of the march. Thus was Fulk made master over all; for he was strong and courageous. The king remained at Gloucester; for he was ailing, and not in a condition for labour. Jervard had taken entirely the whole march from Chester to Worcester, and he had disinherited all the barons of the march. Sir Fulk, with the king's host, gave many fierce assaults to Jervard ; and in a battle near Hereford, at Wormeslow, made him fly and quit the field. But before he fled, many were killed on both sides. Fierce and hard war between Fulk and the prince lasted four years, until at the request of the king of France a love-day was taken at Shrewsbury between the king and Jervard the prince, and they embraced mutually and came to an agreement. And the prince restored to the barons of the march all the lands which he had taken from them, and restored Ellesmere to the king; but for no gold would he render White-Town and Maelor. " Fulk," said the king, " since you have lost White-Town and Maelor, I give you instead Alleston and all the honour which belongs to it, to hold for ever." Fulk thanked him dearly".


Cesti Fouke fust bon viaundour e large; e fesoit turner le real chemyn par mi sa sale a soun maner de Alleston, pur ce que nul estraunge y dust passer s'il n'avoit viaunde ou herbergage ou autre honour ou bien du suen. (This Fulk was very hospitable and liberal; and he caused the king's road to be turned through his hall at his manor of Alleston, in order that no stranger might pass there without having meat or lodging or other honour or goods of his)".
Ruins of Alveston Old Church, next to Alveston Manor (now called "Old Church Farm)

The later Middle Ages saw a number of changes of ownership of the manor of Alveston.

The White Cottage

In the 19th century, the village of Alveston was centred on Church Farm, on the lane leading from Rudgeway to Iron Acton. Some people consider the modern Alveston to be centred on the Ship Inn. The Ship Inn at Alveston is an old Coaching House which dates back to 1589. In the 19th century, the area around the Ship Inn was known as Alveston Green. Most consider Alveston Parade – a small shopping area – to be the centre.

The main road to Gloucester originally passed the Ship Inn, before turning east to join the current line of the A38 trunk road. A short bypass was added during the 20th century.

Alveston Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1903/4. The club was wound up in 1948.[8]

Two St Helens Churches

Alveston New Church of St Helen's

The ruins of Alveston Old Church of St Helens is situated in Rudgeway, south of the modern village of Alveston, along the A38. The separate parish of Alveston was not formed until 1846, before which time Alveston manor was within the parish of Olveston. Following the development and growth of the modern village of Alveston some distance away from the manor house and the Church of St. Helen next door to it, it was determined by the village authorities to build a new church, again dedicated to St Helen, nearer to the new village. The old church fell into disuse and decay, and today only the tower and south aisle wall remain standing, although the structure has been restored to a high standard by the aerospace company Rolls-Royce plc, the owner of both the former manor house, now used for corporate hospitality and known as "Old Church Farm", and the church itself.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Alveston)


  1. Alveston in the Domesday Book
  2. Barlow, Frank. William Rufus, p.298-9
  3. Meisel, p.34, quoting Regesta Regum Anglo-Normanorum 1066–1154, Ed. Cronne, H.A., Davis, R.H.C. & Davis H.W.C.: 3:121, no 320 (in which editors confused Alveston with Alceston, Salop.)
  4. Meisel, p.34
  5. Meisel, p.46, quoting Close Rolls, 1:112 (or poss. Calendar of Charter Rolls 1:112)
  6. Wright, Thomas (1855) op.cit. pp.59–61
  7. Wright, Thomas (1855) op.cit. pp.178-7
  8. Alveston Golf Club on 'Golf's Missing Links'
  • Meisel, Janet. Barons of the Welsh Frontier: the Corbet, Pantulf and FitzWarin Families, 1066–1272, 1980.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, Vol "F", pp. 953–954 "Fitzwarine (sic) family"
  • Athenaeum, 3 October 1885, Review of MacLean, Sir John, Historical and Genealogical Memoir of the Family of Poyntz, Exeter, 1885, reprinted in Gloucestershire Notes & Queries, Vol.3, London, 1887, No.1246, pp. 293–296, The Manor of Alveston

Further reading

  • King, Rosemary: 'Alveston Through Time' (Amberley Press)