On a typically wet Bank Holiday Monday 5th May, thirty-one intrepid walkers, plus a dog, gathered in the churchyard for the ancient Rogation-tide custom of walking the Parish boundary ... known as Beating the Bounds. At 8.30am, they headed along Station Road, then via the footpath to Grange Lane, where in a fruit orchard planted to celebrate the Millennium, prayers were said for the health and productivity of orchards in the parish. We felt very superior telling them we had a 17 mile boundary ... but they got their own back by saying that their Parish Council were paying for their lunchtime drinks!
Then it was on, via Cobbs Barn, to Robin Nunnerley's wholesale nursery in Bordesley, where the preparation of bedding plants was in full swing. Having sung the Harvest hymn 'We plough the fields and scatter', the group trudged on in driving rain to Dagnell End Road and the footpath to Rowney Green. Crossing water-logged fields and slippery stiles was no easy matter and there was a herd of excitable, young heifers to cope with too! During lunch at The Peacock, the Alvechurch group (now swelled to nearly 40) met walkers from Wythall doing a 5 mile stretch of their Parish boundary.
The compensation was the sight of the beautiful bluebells in Lower Rowney Green ... and welcome cups of hot, steaming coffee with chocolate biscuits at the Peace Hall, courtesy of a coffee morning in aid of the Parkinson's Association. After prayers for village life, the walkers headed off towards Weatheroak Hill. In Icknield Street they passed the spot where PC John Davies was murdered in the 1880s and Matthew, the youngest walker, did his best to clean mud from the memorial stone. When the walkers reached the Three Parish post, where the parishes of Alvechurch, Beoley and Wythall meet, a photograph was produced of the Beating of the Bounds in 1956. It showed the youngest walker being symbolically beaten by the oldest in order to impress on the youngster the exact boundaries of the parish. The 2008 walkers re-enacted the ceremony, with nine-year-old Matthew 'suffering' under the cruel blows of ageing Brian Watkiss!
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Alvechurch Parish Office is at the bottom of Bear Hill