Meriden is known as the historic centre of England and this fact has been marked for centuries by an ancient cross on the village green. It lies in the rural ‘gap’ between Coventry and the Birmingham conurbation. The ‘Meriden Gap’ is the name given locally to the precious Green Belt of attractive countryside and villages that lie at the heart of the most economically successful area of the West Midlands.
The Parish covers approximately 11.5 square kilometres and forms the North East corner of Solihull Metropolitan Borough, bordering Coventry to the east and North Warwickshire to the north.
The main settlements are Meriden Village itself where approximately two thirds of the population of the Parish live, Millison’s Wood and Eaves Green. Millison’s Wood, a mile to the east of Meriden Village is partially built on the site of the former Triumph Motorcycle factory.
The Parish is crossed by the A45 Birmingham to Coventry road and is within 10 minutes drive of the M6, M42 and M6 Toll motorways, Birmingham International Airport and rail station. It is extremely well connected and highly accessible. At the same time, its hilly and wooded countryside attracts walkers to many well looked after footpaths, including the Heart of England Way and the Coventry Way.
Ancient records often refer to Meriden as a small but pleasant village with a scattering of inns. The original hill top village of Alspath, where the church of St. Laurence is situated, was superseded by a later settlement, Meriden, which grew up in the valley on flatter ground on either side of the important medieval road linking London to Chester and Holyhead.
In places, Meriden still retains signs of its ancient landscape with deep narrow winding lanes and embanked hedges marking old boundaries. Ancient woodlands, such as Millison’s Wood survive.
The London to Holyhead Road was of strategic and economic importance. Meriden was a day’s coach drive from London and a favourite overnight stop. In 1723, one of the first sections of road to be made into a turnpike ran through Coventry to the bottom of Meriden Hill.
Maintenance of the turnpike was poor and in 1810, the great road-building engineer Thomas Telford began work on a major renovation of the whole route to Holyhead that included lowering Meriden Hill, thus bypassing the Queen’s Head Pub and the “Old Road”. This remained the main Coventry to Birmingham Road until 1958 when the village was bypassed by the A45 dual carriageway.