Skip to content

Holden Estate Village

Samuel Holden’s son Robert (1676 – 1746) was a highly successful lawyer and considerably extended his patrimony (after initially selling much of what he owned in Weston). Most of his purchases were outside Aston on Trent in Foremark, Long Eaton, Sawley and Little Wilne, Great Wilne and Shardlow, but he bought two farms in Aston on Trent (Both of them formerly part of the Weston property). His trustees added another farm in 1747 and 23 acres in 1767, both in Aston, besides buying land in Leicestershire. In 1797 when Roberts Grandson, the Reverend Charles Edward Holden was in possession of the estate, it consisted of 564 acres in Aston, in addition top property elsewhere. 

The most spectacular growth of any Aston on Trent estate in the eighteenth century, however, was the Rectors glebe. In the seventeenth century (and probably for long before) it consisted of 3½ yardlands in Aston on Trent and a few small closes in Aston on Trent and Shardlow, the acreage of which is difficult to determine, but was probably about 90 acres in all. When Aston on Trent moor was enclosed in 1757, 50 acres was allotted to the Rector, partly as his proportion for 3½ yardlands and partly in lieu of great tithes payable within the moor. The 1756 globe Terrier shows that the Rector had in addition 241 acres in Ashfield and 67 acres in Nether field (besides 100 acres in Shardlow and Great Wilne), all of which had been allotted to him at the enclosure of the common fields of tithes. In 1822-3, the globe was said to consist of 450 acres (of which 350 acres must have been in Aston) and the Rectors income was claimed to be £1500. 

Otherwise, the eighteenth century seems to have been an era of stability in the pattern of land ownership. The surnames of the chief free elders in the township who entered into an agreement in 1747, were nearly the same as the surnames of the greater owners as set out in the 1763 enclosure award, whilst the 1763 names reappear in the 1780 land tax assessment. At the enclosure of the open fields, meadows, pastures etc., said to contain 14,520 acres, there were 41 proprietors (owners) of land, held estates valued at over 400s (£20). The Holden name was temporarily missing from this list. Robert Holden’s second heir was his daughter Mary, wife of James Shuttleworth whose son the Reverend Charles Shuttleworth succeeded to the estate in 1791 having changed his name to Holden. The Shuttleworth estate was by far the largest (8,112s) nearly a third of the 25,915s, total for the township. The Rectors came next at 4,912s; about three times the size of any other holding. The land tax assessment of 1780 assessed 40 proprietors for tax, 14 of them for £1 and over, and these 14 correspond exactly with those whose properties were valued at over 400s., in the enclosure award, except that the smallest holding of this group broke up between 1763 and 1780. By 1808, five of these names had gone to be replaced by five others (amongst them James Sutton esq.) and there had been some shuffling of holdings, but it was after this date that substantial changes occurred. 

By 1832, although the Holden estate, assessed for £23.5s tax was still much the biggest in Aston, and the Rectors glebe (at £14.16s.8d) came next, James Sutton esq. was challenging the Rectors position with land sufficient to be assessed for just over £12 tax, and there were only six others assessed over £1 (one of them the Burton family estate). The number of proprietors remained much the same however, because of an increase in the number of very small owners, holding just a tenement or house and land, probably related to activity in building new houses and cottages. The number of lesser landowners owning more than a house but not enough to be assessed over £1 – also changed little from 1780 – 1832. Some of the biggest farmers at this period such as the Morley’s and the Botham’s – owned very little land, for not only the Holden’s but also smaller proprietors leased out their estates.

In 1833, Edward Anthony Holden, son of the Reverend Charles Edward Holden embarked on a long series of purchases of farms, closes and cottages, by which he eliminated all holdings of any size in the township (after 1838 a parish) except for those of the Sutton’s and the Earls of Harrington. He appears even to have bought much of the glebe land when all but six acres of it were sold. In 1873, the return of owners of land gave his Derbyshire acreage at 1,546 acres with a gross estimate rental of £4,031. Further small purchases brought the acreage to 1,595 acres by 1897, when Colonel Edward C.S. Holden, Edward Anthony Holden’s grandson, agreed to sell his estates to the Manchester book-cloth manufacturer, William Dickson Winterbottom for £96,232. 

The purchase was completed in the following year. The reference to a map of the estate produced at this time shows 1,319 acres in Aston on Trent township, 170 acres in Shardlow and Great Wilne, and 132 acres in Weston (though much of the ‘Shardlow’ land actually appears to be within Aston on Trent township). The map also shows that the Sutton’s largely held the land in Aston on Trent not owned by the Holden’s. The Earl of Harrington also held an estate in Aston, though it was probably substantially smaller than the Sutton’s. Why Colonel E.C.S. Holden decided to sell the estate can only be guessed at. There was a heavy burden on it due to settlements made on his many uncles and aunts, but it may be that he was not interested in running the Aston on Trent property. He was an officer in Southern Africa, taking a prominent part in the events leading up to the Jameson Raid and in the Raid itself. He later lived at Doveridge and died in 1916, leaving an only son, Anthony aged eight years.