Anglican Parish Church of All Saints’
Over succeeding centuries the church has undergone significant changes. The substantial Norman tower indicates the church was of some importance but apart from the tower, the font and the base of the pillars other Norman construction was demolished in the 13th century to make way for the Gothic nave and chancel. Over the next hundred years the tower and the nave were heightened and the original line of the roof inside the church can still be seen as well as masonry changes on the outside of the tower. The south aisle was also added to provide a Lady Chapel. The elaborate local alabaster tomb of lawyer Thomas Tickhill and his wife, dates from the mid-15th century. At this time the chancel roof was raised and the long windows added to the south side of the chancel.
The Reformation saw oak pews installed when people began to sit and listen to the service; then taken in English. A Jacobean altar table, the gift of the Rector John Hunt, was introduced in 1630. A 17th century bassoon and flageolet (oboe) was discovered, revealing how church music was played before the introduction of pipe organs in Victorian times.
The Holden family paid for sensitive restoration in 1873 with the introduction of the pulpit, reredos (carving behind the altar) and choir stalls. Most of the windows, with the exception of the fine “Kemp” window, portraying St. Michael and St George, are early 20th century creations. A tower screen was installed in the 1980’s to create a play room for children. A nave altar was introduced in order to celebrate a more participatory Holy Communion.
Different styles of worship have come and gone, but the Christian faith has been celebrated here for over 1200 years. All Saints’ Church is a beautiful building, but, most importantly, it is a parish church, which is still the focal point of worship and prayer for a living community of people.
The existence of what appear to be stones taken from a Celtic preaching cross (later built into the west wall of the north aisle of All Saints’ Parish Church) suggests that there has been a Christian community at Aston on Trent since the late 7th century. The first missionary monks to visit the village probably came from Repton which was the “Minster” or mother church of the area.
The village Methodist Church has a more recent history. Early Methodists attended the local parish church for formal worship and held meetings for prayer and fellowship in their own private houses; almost certainly the case at Aston on Trent. This changed in the early 19th century when an “Indenture of Assignment” was drawn up under which a group of thirteen Methodists agreed to pay Saint George Smith of Derby, gentleman, the sum of £220 for:
“…all that chapel or building lately erected by the said several persons and parties on the site of the barn that stood in the yard belonging to house, bakehouse and hereditaments for the public worship of Almighty God, together with all houses and outhouses.”
This first Wesleyan Methodist Church stood opposite the Malt Shovel (on the same site as the present church) and was opened in 1829. Thomas Halladay, a blacksmith living in Aston, with others from Derby, became the first Trustees and it was their responsibility to:
“permit and suffer such persons as shall be appointed at the yearly conference of the people called Methodists to have and to enjoy free use of the said chapel and premises to preach and expound therein God’s Holy Word according to the Deed Poll executed by REV. JOHN WESLEY, Master of Arts dated 28th February 1784….”
In 1966 the Trustees reported that the existing chapel was in need of urgent and major repair with the two adjoining cottages being unfit for human habitation. At this time there were 26 adult members, 3 junior members, a Women’s Fellowship of 12, a teenage youth club of 10 and a Sunday School of 35.
Discussions began between the Methodist and Anglican congregations as to the feasibility of building a new Methodist Church on Anglican land. It was envisaged that this would be a multi-functional building to be used by both denominations. The official position from both hierarchies argued that it would be unwise to proceed with any firm commitment. As a result the chapel and cottages were demolished and the present church opened on 14th October 1967.
There remains an active Methodist presence in the village today including weekly worship by the Minister or preachers from the local Circuit. Relationships with All Saints’ Church are positive and united services are held during the Christian year. The adaptability of the present building makes it suitable and available for activities including monthly coffee mornings, luncheon clubs, craft clubs and village events. The Methodist Church is positively engaged with the local community.