Aldridge (St. Mary)
ALDRIDGE (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Walsall, S. division of the hundred of Offlow and of the county of Stafford, 4 miles (N. E. by E.) from Walsall; containing, with the chapelry of Great Barr, 2083 inhabitants, of whom 1005 are in the township of Aldridge. This parish, anciently Alrewich, comprises 7752 acres, whereof 480 are common or waste land: in the township of Aldridge are about 2500 acres, all arable, with the exception of 100 of grass and 20 woodland. The soil is principally sandy and gravelly, producing good crops if well manured; much of the surface is elevated, the celebrated Barr Beacon being the highest hill in the inland counties. The neighbourhood affords a kind of red clay, well adapted for the finer sort of flower-pots, tiles, &c.; it is thirty feet deep, and makes, also, superior blue bricks for building, The Blue-tile works of Messrs. G. and J. Brawn were established here in 1825; the excellence of the tiles consists in their lightness, durability, and colour, being similar to slate: about 100 hands are employed in this species of manufacture. The trade is greatly facilitated by the Wyrley and Essington Extension canal, now incorporated with the Birmingham canal, and which passes a short distance west of the village. There is not a running stream in the parish; the Bourne rivulet separates it from Shenstone, and the old London and Chester road passes at the east end. The village is pretty, and contains some good houses: about a mile southward of it is Aldridge Lodge, occupying elevated ground, surrounded with 200 acres, and commanding a panoramic view of the circumjacent country; it is the property of the Rev. Thomas Burrowes Adams, M.A. Druids' Heath and Mill Green, two hamlets in the manor of Aldridge, are also within a mile of the village. The Living is a rectory, with the perpetual curacy of Great Barr annexed, valued in the king's books at £8. 1. 3.; patron, Sir E. D. Scott, Bart.: the tithes have been commuted for £1300 per annum; and there are 70 acres of glebe, with a good glebe-house situated near the church, near which, also, is the residence of Edward Tongue, Esq. The church was partly rebuilt in 1842, at a cost of £728; it has a monument of a Knight Templar, and its square tower is very ancient. There are two free schools, one of them with an endowment of £126 per annum, founded in 1718 by the Rev. John Jordan; and the other for girls, of whom six are instructed in consideration of an endowment of £12 per annum arising from land left by Mrs. Wheeley. A national and Sunday school is supported by subscription. At the back of the church is a small tumulus.