is over 100 years since William Wing published his book,
The Annals of North Aston. This small pocketbook
has long been out of print, and is rarely found in second
hand book shops. Although it remains a valuable historical
resource, it has no illustrations (to speak of), is
woefully out of date, and cannot be described as a readily
accessible point of reference.
the approach of the new millennium in 1998, it was decided
to mark the occasion by publishing a book that recorded
the state of North Aston at the turn of the new century.
It was to be called The New North Aston Domesday
Book, and like the original edition of 1086, would
act as a permanent record of the village. Pretty soon,
however, the scope of the intended book broadened, thanks
largely to the dedication and commitment of so many
contributors. Rather than just a narrowly scoped, relatively
small and cheaply produced booklet, possibly photocopied,
it was decided to "do the job properly". North
Aston - A Millennium is the result.
more than merely a snapshot of the village, North
Aston - A Millennium is a worthy successor to William
Wing's Annals. Not only does it cover the full
history of North Aston, from the time of the Roman invasion
through to the late Nineteenth Century, but it picks
up where Wing left off, continuing to record the village's
colourful past all the way through to the present day.
period, from the days of Wing to the year 2000, saw
more change in the landscape and community of North
Aston than the entire one thousand years that preceded
it. Perhaps uniquely, the North Aston of 1907 would
have remained largely familiar to the Norman scholars
who made their record of 1086. Still retained as part
of a single manorial estate, the whole village changed
little in over 800 years. Even the size of population
remained largely static, and perhaps only a half dozen
more houses were built. More significantly, an essentially
rural way of life survived intact.
with that final sale of the estate in 1907 did radical
change come to North Aston, and with it a danger that
the memories of those who could recall "the old
ways" would be gone and lost for ever. During the
course of the century that followed, the estate was
split up, with several larger properties sold off, other
land acquired and farms amalgamated, and the era of
the tenant farmers came to an end. New houses were built,
and the age-old tradition of handing on homes, and jobs,
from one generation to the next, largely disappeared.
many of the original North Aston families survive, with
names that ring as true today as they did five hundred
years ago, and with their help, and the enthusiastic
contributions from other residents more recently arrived,
North Aston - A Millennium was conceived and
soon became evident that it would not be possible to
do justice to the book in the few months that remained
before the end of the Twentieth Century, and so a new
deadline was sought. 2007 became the chosen date, since
it marked two important anniversaries. For North Aston,
it was exactly 100 years since the sale of 1907, but
for Oxfordshire as a whole, it was 1000 years since
the founding of the County.
after nearly eight years, the book finally went to print.
It had been very much a labour of love, but the result
is, it is hoped, a worthy testament to the hard work
and diligence of all those who have contributed so much
of their time and effort. Hardbacked and properly bound,
it could grace any coffee table, but more correctly,
it should also represent a valuable source of reference
and a fascinating read..
It is with the deepest regret that we announce that John Harvey-Lee, the co-author and driving force behind North Aston - A Millennium, passed away on the morning of Friday 22nd September 2017. He was an example to us all and will be hugely missed.