26 September 2017
Created by Barry Thompson © 2011-2017 Aston on Trent on Trent Local History Group, all rights reserved
Aston on Trent - A Little More History - Part 1 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 on Trent 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 built 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 on Trent 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 on Trent Hall lies nearby, but it was not as you might expect Aston’s manor house. After the early disappearance of Henry Ferrers small estate and Uctebrand's sub-manor, no other manor of Aston on Trent 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 on Trent lands) to Hugh Earl of Chester, who in turn gave it to the Abbey at St Werburgh at Chester.