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A brief History of Atherstone

Atherstone has a long and colourful history dating back to Roman times. An important defended Roman settlement named Manduessedum existed at Mancetter near the site of modern day Atherstone. The Roman road “the A5” originally Watling Street ran through the town. It is believed by some historians that the rebel Queen of the Britons, Boudica was defeated at the Battle of Watling Street by the Romans in her final battle near Manduessedum.

Atherstone also has an entry in the Domesday Book of 1086, records show that Atherstone was held by Countess Godiva.

St. Mary’s

The ancient St. Mary’s Chapel in Atherstone dates from the early 12th century when the monks of Bec made a donation of 12 acres (4.9 ha) to a house of friars and hermits, later referred to as “Austin friars”.

It is said that the Battle of Bosworth actually took place in the fields of Merevale above Atherstone. Certainly reparation was made to Atherstone after the battle and not to Market Bosworth.

The Tudors

In Tudor times, Atherstone was a thriving commercial centre for weaving and clothmaking. The town's favourable location laid out as a long ‘ribbon development’ along Watling Street, ensured its growth as a market town.

By the late Tudor period Atherstone had become a centre for leatherworking, clothmaking, metalworking and brewing.  Local sheep farmers and cattle graziers supplied wool and leather to local tanners and shoemakers (an industry that continued until the 1970s), while metalworkers, locksmiths and nailers fired their furnaces with local coal and the alemakers supplied thirsty palates on market days.

Hatting Town

Atherstone was once an important hatting town, and became well known for its felt hats. The industry began in the 17th century and at its height there were seven firms employing 3,000 people. Due to cheap imports, the trade had largely died out by the 1960s and ended completely in 1998.

 

 

 

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