The Astons at War

The First World War

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £3,900 to the Astons History Group for their project to mark the First World War Centenary in 2014.

In 2013 our project was registered with the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War project and members of the village history group started researching the names on our village war memorials. We planned to host a large exhibition in the village hall in November 2014.

Like many villages, the families related to the men on the war memorial had moved out of the area and, apart from one soldier, we had nothing in our archives to help us understand their stories.

The discovery of John Masefield’s name on the Muster Roll in St Michael's Church lead the team to research and explore the life of this poet, author and writer who lived at Lollingdon Farm near Aston Tirrold from 1914 to 1917. Research centered on his poetry and writings during the years of 1914 -1918. 

The Astons History Group contacted living relatives of many of the villages fallen soldiers. These families donated stories, letters and photos. It was really poignant to put faces to names at last.

We have started to add some of the soldiers stories here and will continue to add more information as we discover it.

  The War Memorial after restoration & cleaning

    The unveiling of the war memorial in 1921


The Moon Diaries

The family of Dr Robert Moon very kindly gave us access to his unpublished diaries from when he lived at Copsestyle in Aston Tirrold. He served  in the R.A.M.C in France, Serbia and Salonica. His diaries, letters and postcards helped us understand the local connections John Masefield had with our villages, along with revealing many other fascinating facts about our communities during this period. 

Copyright: Bill Clarke (Grandson of Robert Moon).

   Robert Moon in his uniform

    Some of his letters sent back to his wife Edith

    Copsestyle in Aston Tirrold


The 2014 Exhibition

An exposure of village life both among the agricultural workers, jockeys and farm hands including new, tantalising evidence of village connections with a number of people on the fringes of the Bloomsbury Group as well as other artists, writers and politicians who had connections with those who lived in the villages during these years. 

Local people and groups were actively involved in researching the history of village families, children and schooling, food and rations, women’s rights, suffrage and conscientious objectors. Our exhibition included audio oral histories, documentaries, music and sound, along with stories, photographs, letters, diaries, artefacts, press cuttings and First World War memorabilia. 

The exhibition was opening by Lord Bradshaw who used to live in Aston Tirrold. The show allowed the public to discuss, remember, contribute, share and commemorate. The exhibition also had a local genealogist on hand to help individuals locate more information about their own serving relatives during the First World War .  

The 2014 exhibition at the village Hall

Families listening to the audio histories


There was a family self-guide “Poppy Trail” which took people round both villages and introduced them to a number of First World War related facts about village life and the soldiers and families. 

The Women’s Institute presented information about women during the First World War, their lasting legacy in war work, food and rationing and the emergence of the local and national suffrage movement.

A digital archive has been created since this exhibition to preserve and share all the information gathered.