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Aston means the East Farm. Its history probably begins in the 6th Century, perhaps as a result of migration from Weston upon Trent, the West farm. Gradually, land about the tiny settlement was taken into cultivation, but the soil was difficult and colonisation was stilt incomplete when Domesday Book was compiled in 1086. By then, Aston was divided between three estates, part belonged to the royal manor of Weston upon Trent part was a berwick (outlying farm) of the same manor, held be Uctebrand as s sub manor from the King, and part was a small manor belonging to Henry Ferrers. The arable lands of the farms must have lain intermingled in the great open fields of the township. By the 17th century and probably long before there were four of these huge unfenced fields, sub­divided into hundreds of strips. The farmers lived in the village with their farmhouses, gardens and orchards, their yards and barns, along and behind the village streets. The two main streets are Derby Road and Weston Road and where they meet there used to be a cross, which is marked on a map of 1827. The extension of Derby Road south of the junction with Weston Road was little built along and locally led mainly to the church and hall. A minor Street, The Green. diverging North East from the cross, was being built up from at least the late 17th Century and another path led from Derby Road to Little Moorside where there was a cottage even in the 17th century. There used to be a village green 'Le Grene' is mentioned in the 13th century and Hall Green in 1585 but its position is unknown, though the Green of today perhaps provides a clue. No outlying farmhouses were build until after 1763, when the open fields were enclosed allowing compact farms to be created. As the old farm house slowly fell out of use, partly because farms increased in size, their sites were often built over. Robert Clarke, gentleman, for instance brought a messuage (house) in 1763 with its orchard and homestead and by 1782 had built four more houses on the land. Much of the present village centre owes its existence to the rebuilding and new building which took place in Aston in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Until brick was introduced into Aston, perhaps in the 17th century, houses and cottages would have been built of timber and daub. There were still some such buildings with thatched roofs in 1839 but none has survived and only one brick house pre-dating the 18th century, number 16 The Green. This has much altered, particularly by the insertion of later windows. Originally, it had a central hall with a large fireplace lit by a small window (now blocked) whilst the entrance was in the opposite wall into a lobby against the chimney stack a common 17th century arrangement The date stone above the blocked window is inscribed WCM 1690, suggesting the builder was a Christopher Wright, one of a long line of that name. The church stands South of the village, a little apart from it. In 1086, it was one of two churches sharing a priest on Weston Manor. Some stones of the Saxon nave may still remain and there is certainly a Saxon stones carved with interlacing preserved in the West wall adjoining the tower. The church was being improved or partially rebuilt or enlarged during much of the medieval period. The massive lower stages of the tower, the tower arch and windows, and the west door belong to the Norman period the nave and aisles to the 13th century whilst the windows in the South aisle and in the South wall of the Chancel are decorated (14th century).

It was completed with a clerestory, new windows in the North aisle and a rebuilt top to the tower, all in perpendicular style. Aston Hall lies nearby, but it was not as you might expect Astons manor house. After the early disappearance of Henry Ferrers small estate and Uctebrands sub-manor, no other manor of Aston seems to have developed and the greatest landowner until 1647-8 was the lord of the manor of Weston upon Trent. This William I gave (with its Aston lands) to Hugh Earl of Chester, who in turn gave it to the Abbey at St Werburgh at Chester. Further gifts to the Abbey were absorbed into Weston Manor, until at least a quarter of Aston belonged to it. After the dissolution of the monasteries, West Manor passed to and fro between the crown and the Paget family until, in 1612 it came to Anthony Roper of Eltham in Kent, by his marriage to Mary Gerard the Paget heiress. The Aston Hall estate was quite independent of Weston manor until 1633 its origins are medieval but its history can only be clearly traced from the late 14th century, when it came to the Tikhill family. The last of his line Thomas of Aston, gentleman sold his land in Aston to John Hunt of Overton in Ashover, gentleman, in 1513 and the Hunts moved to Aston remaining until another John sold the estate in 1620. Anthony Roper owner of Weston Manor and its lands bought the Aston Hall estate in 1633. After Ropers death West Manor lands including seven farms in Aston were purchased by Nicholas Wilmot esquire in October 1647. Nicholas's cousin, Robert Holden of Shardlow, bought the Aston Hall property and a month later the lordship of Weston manor and those lands still belonging to it i.e. those not sold to Wilmot. Nicholas Wilmot soon sold farms to the sitting tenants but the Holdens were to remain lords of the manor of Weston and owners of Aston Hall for 250 years. Almost certainly there was a large house on the Aston estate long before its first mention in 1532. In the 17th century it had fishponds, a dovecote (to supply pigeons to eat), a rabbit warren, a garden, two orchards and a malt mill. An inventory of 1692 shows there were twenty three rooms in Aston Hall many of them service or store rooms - dairy, brew house, still house, cheese chamber. Although a gentlemen's residence it was also a farm house. Robert Holden's grandson, another Robert, made a great deal of money in the law. He bought more land married his old child Mary to James Shuttleworth, heir to an extensive northern estate, and built a new Hall at Aston in about 1735. Roberts house contains five bays and is three stories high with central Venetian windows on both main facades. Inside is an attractive Georgian staircase and, two rooms are lined with 17th century or earlier paneling. Robert also created a park around his fashionable house and banished faming operations to outbuildings. He we determined his land should not be absorbed into the Shuttleworth estate and left Aston to a younger son of Mary and James Shutlleworth, Charles changed his name to Holden in order to inherit. Charles added porticoes to the Hall but made little mark on the house or estate. He allowed James Sutton of Shardlow to build up a fair sized property in Aston, whilst he was head of the family (1791-1821). Edward Anthony Charles son, considerably enlarged the hall with the addition of the ballroom, in 1828 he began to buy every cottage or farm which came on the market, this continued after his death. His grandson sold his inheritance to William Dickson Winterbottom a Manchester book-cloth manufacturer. In 1898 the estate comprised about two thirds of Aston parish and most of the village. After Winterbottoms death in 1924 it was broken up for sale, and since then the house has been a hospital.

The CHARITIES Of Aston-on-Trent Extract from a typewritten copy made?? (sometime after 1934) The Charities of Aston amount to £25 per annum the income being derived from various parcels of land as under:
A piece of land in 'Thornboroughs', a field adjoining the Aston-Chellaston road (back lane!) produces £4/5/0 per annum and is let to the Earl of Harrington's Estate. A piece of land on Longcroft Farm Aston in the occupation of Mr G Brace produces £2 per annum A small field on Shadlow Road Aston at present let to Mr E Clulow, produces £2/16/0 per annum The above are known as the Aston Charities and are managed by 5 Trustees 3 being life members (Messrs O. Forman, C. Wall, J. Orton) & 2 appointed by the Parish council on a four year basis. Until 1916 the charities were distributed in the form of coal and was known as COAL MONEY. The coal being carted from the station and tipped in the open space in front of the present post office, where it was weighed out and distributed by local farmers who did the carting for free. As the price of coal increased the Charity monies have been given to the widows and deserving poor of the parish in sums varying from £1 to 5/-

THE ALMS HOUSES. (prior to I 935)
Under the control of the Rector are four Alms houses situated on the Green. These houses are maintained by the rents of 'the Spring Gardens' a piece of land on Derby Road let to various parishioners as allotments.

The late MAJOR E.L.S HOLDEN when squire of Aston gave at Xmas time 2lbs of beef to all his tenants over 16 years of age. When Colonel Winterbottom became landlord he continued the same gift during his lifetime. The late Rev. J.S.HOLDEN gave 2lbs of beef to all widow & old person as a Xmas gift. The late Mrs W.D. WINTERBOTTOM at Xmas time gave widows, old people & those with large families, gifts of Plum Puddings, Rabbits, Blankets and other useful warm gifts.
During winter months soup was given to widows & old people from the 3 houses in the village, the Hall, Rectory and the Lodge. Also on the first day of the winter that people received soup, flannel was given to the women for petticoats & to the men for undershirts.

A ROYAL CHARTER was granted on 15 September 1257 for Aston to hold a TUESDAY WEEKLY MARKET and an ANNUAL FAIR 31 July to 2 August by King Henry III.

These MARKETS/FAIRS were held on the wide strip of land/road between the church and The Green. Often churches of that time would have been plain open halls where the community could meet and do trade (there would not have been any pews/seats in our much smaller church at that time). The weekly MARKETS would sell food and perishable goods and other wares to local people. The annual FAIRS were no doubt a larger event and would be big in cattle and cheese, for example. Cattle were often temporarily put on a village green for sale (hence the name of THE GREEN). They were restricted to be at least 7 miles away from any other market/fair, so Aston would have become an important centre for trading. The ROYAL CHARTER was granted to the Abbot of Chester who owned the lands of ESTON within the Manor of Weston, Derbyshire. Information based on notes from Dr Trevor James of Litchfield a professional historian. See more history notes attached. Ken Adams

This follows on from Main Statement of 750 Year Anniversary of Aston The annual Fairs aspired to draw in people from a wider area than the Markets. As time went on, fairs would have entertainers to attract even more people and get even bigger as the years progressed. Fairs & Markets fall into two categories: Customary very old and existing before the Royal Charter e.g located in Hill Forts at 1066 Norman Conquest and all that. Derby Fair was first mentioned in 1204 and probably dated back to the creation of the burgh in 917. Prescriptive covers Fairs granted by Royal Charter. The King received £3 6s 8d for granting a fair so all existing Customary Fairs had to pay up to get the new legal grant. Before 1200 markets were held in churchyards on Sundays (it maximised sales potential. ed). Fairs and Markets were most prolific along the lines of communication e.g along rivers or major national roads. Fairs and Markets were often adjacent to a castle or parish church. They often had a market cross (as in Aston up to 1837) from which announcements could be made and it was from here the formal reading of the Proclamation of the Charter would be made prior to the fair or market opening, it was opened by the ringing of a bell, but only after all the tolls had been collected, e.g 1d on a sack of wool, 1d on a tun of wine and 1d on a horse drawn cart. In 1213 a Charter (i.e Law) was declared to collect tolls for both Fairs and Markets. Edward I and III constantly asserted that no-one in the realm was permitted to hold a market without a Licence and must keep to the laws. Many owners of fairs and markets were fined because of infringements of the assize of bread, ale and weights and measures (i.e stale bread and the beer was off and sold short: ed), the Licence for the fairs and markets were seized by the Crown as punishment. This is the reason why Aston, Ashbourne and Bakewell were seized in 1330 and would be returned to the owners after paying the fine (ed: it's assumed Aston on Trent did not pay the fine ). Aston ceased to hold a fair or market after this date. Talking of legalities: The market authorities were obligated to control what went on including grievances, punch-ups, bad debts and quarrels of quality of goods, weights and measures. A Fairs Lord would be responsible for checking the quality of the beer and wine (probably at the end of the day he didn't know whether it was wine or beer he was sampling: ed). The authorities gave instant justice by chaining up the offender in stocks or pillory and this became part of the entertainment that these events were famous for. (I'm hoping to get one! :ed). A by-product of the fair was the gathering and socialising of people, it was often where youngsters met their future spouse or where labourers were hired for the next year's work (i.e Medieval Job Centre). The Black Death struck in 1348-1349 and weakened the market trading generally throughout the country when 50% of the population died . Black death victims are believed to have been buried in a field on the opposite side of the A50road to the new cemetery on Derby Road . It would be good to learn if anybody has found any artefacts of this 13th/14th Century period, between the church and Le Grene (The Green) to establish the credibility that our Market/Fair was held on this location. These notes are believed to be how Aston on Trent history is reflected.

22 November 2007

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