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Village Farmsteads And Other Buildings

The old village farmhouses continued to be used for some time after the enclosures of 1757 and 1763, as it was only very slowly that new farmhouses were built out in the fields. A map of the Holden estate in 1795, then covering about a third of the township, shows buildings at Rider Hill, possibly farm buildings and by 1835 there was a scattering of buildings outside the village at Rectory Farm, Aston on Trent Hall, Marsh Flat, Aston moor, Hanger Bank and Riding House. Of these the Rectory farm certainly and Aston on Trent Hall, Marsh Flat and Riding House (Riden of Royden Hall) probably were farms, and perhaps one of the buildings at Aston moor, but there was probably only cottages at Hanger Bank. Yet there were undoubtedly more than four or five farms in Aston at this time, so the other farm buildings must still have been in the village. By 1857, at least two more farm names came into existence, Fox Covet and cottage, but the latter’s farmhouse was on the outskirts of Aston on Trent village. So were the Manor Farm buildings in 1924, so both probably utilized old premises at least in part. It would seem then that only seven farms were ever built outside the village of Aston; these being Glebe, Ridenhill (Royden Hill), Fox Covet, Moorside, Marsh Flat, Rectory and Aston on Trent Hall (the knob). 

There is no doubt that some of the village farmhouses began to go out of use before the building of new farmhouses outside the village, probably because of an increase in the size of the farms and a consequent decreased in the number of farmers. Sometimes the old houses were pulled down, sometimes converted to other uses. Thus Robert Clarke, A Derbyshire gentleman (later of Aston) bought in 1763 a messuage with its homestead and orchard adjoining which must have been an old farmhouse with its yard and orchard, and before his death in 1782 had built messuages on the land, each with a garden. He left the original house standing, Jacob Botham of Aston yeoman bought a messuage with three homestead in 1775, and again one suspects that this was a farmhouse and yard, and either he or his son, Joseph, had new building and alterations, converted it into five cottages with a room used as a schoolroom by 1834. Today, there is probably just one village farmhouse left, 16 The Green, the tablet in which suggests it was built by a Christopher Wright; it says ‘W’. It is two stones high in red brick with ‘ C H Lozenge ’ diapering, in black brick. Some of the 1690 windows are modern. 

In the late 18th and early 19th century there was a considerable amount of building in Aston on Trent – some of it has already been mentioned, but there was plenty more besides. The Daykin’s, first Mary in her widowhood between 1785 and 1803 and then her son William 1805 and 1839, built four houses between them of which we have descriptions, all using the old words houseplace, parlour and chamber for the names of the roads. Lovatt Frearson of Aston on Trent joiner purchased together with a house already on it. He built three more houses, leaving the existing house still standing in this case, so that at his death, in 1817 he was able to leave his five children two houses each. Altogether, there is evidence of the building of over 20 cottages or houses in the papers of the Holden family (and undoubtedly further building took place in the 19th century of which no evidence survives). Probably, some of these cottages still exist, but further research and examination of some of the older cottages in the village would be necessary to establish this. The Moorside developed a tiny community in the 18th century though there was one cottage there in the 17th century. One of the Moorside houses in 1833 was the house of schoolmaster George Daykin and consisted of house place, parlour, two chambers, and a large garden. 

This building activity was presumably related to an increase in the population. According to Pilkington, there were about 92 houses and 452 inhabitants in 1769. By 1811, the Census shows there were 111 inhabited houses, 2 in the process of being built and 2 uninhabited, 112 families and 532 people. Sixty-one of the families were engaged in agriculture, 31 in trade etc., and 20 in other pursuits. The numbers of inhabited houses and the population rose to a peak in 1851, when they reached 150 and 191 respectively, after which they declined, though somewhat more slowly than they had risen. In 1911 the population was only 493 but in 1931 a dramatic 645 was recorded presumably Aston on Trent was already becoming a commuter village. However, it took 20 years for the population to rise by a comparable number to 796 in 1951. At the last census, Aston on Trent had over a thousand (1067) inhabitants for the first time in its history. Now housing developed along the roads out of Aston on Trent to provide for the increased population, whilst old cottages were demolished in 1967, to make a green space in the centre.