Road by Road

Illustrated with a selection of photos from the History Group's archive, taken over the decades.

Moreton Road

So called of course because it leads to the Moreton villages (becoming Aston Road in South Moreton) and the main road which divides our two villages.

It has the main entrance to Upthorpe Stud on it, and also barns and the farmhouse of Upthorpe Farm, once called Lower Ham Farm. In this 1930s postcard of Croft Corner, at which time it was a shop, you can see in the background some farm cottages (now demolished) that belonged to Ham Fam as it was then. There are a range of previously farm workers’ cottages along the south side of Moreton Road - the earliest built in 1882.

Maynards at Croft Corner remained a shop until the 1950s, and was at one time a butchers shop with cellar storage. Railings can be seen around the corner, with a separate shop entrance further along the frontage.

Opposite Croft Corner, the White House was much larger in the 19th century. In this photo from the 1890s another wing can be seen in what is now its front garden; there is also a cottage linking the main house and the barn. Maps from that time show the garden running some way back along Thorpe Street. By 1910, when Orchard House was built, this wing had disappeared – possibly lost in a fire (a common occurrence in 19th century) – and the cottage roof raised giving a single roof height to the building. 

The Red House opposite Upthorpe Farm was where Sir Patrick Abercrombie, the distinguished town planner, lived for many years until his death on the 23rd March 1957. He was best known for the post-World War II replanning of London. He created the County of London Plan (1943) and the Greater London Regional Plan (1944) which are commonly referred to as the Abercrombie Plan.  

He was also a co-founder of The Council for the Protection of Rural England (now known as CPRE).  http://www.cpre.org.uk

Maynards - a village shop at Croft Corner

The junction of Fullers and Moreton roads, 1930's

The Red House and Lower Ham Farm - now Upthorpe Farm



Fullers Road

Fullers Road is named after a key landowning family, related to the Fullers of London brewery fame. The Astons branch of the family - there were also Fullers in Blewbury - were the leading non-conformist family in the village, and were instrumental in the development of the non-conformist chapel and its school in Spring Lane.

This short stretch of road links Spring Lane and Moreton Road and has a mix of old and new buildings, the Sweet Olive at the Chequers Inn, and the Chequers Garage

Pope’s Farm was one of the main farming estates in the village - along with Thorpe, Copsestile and Ham (now Upthorpe) Farms. 

The late Victorian slump in  farming led to the contraction and selling off of estates (For more information on this see Farming and Landscape).

In the 1930's Popes become the base for Frank Cundell’s racing stables - one of five separate racing establishments in the village in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Frank Cundell’s stables had originally been based around Harwell, but his land was compulsorily purchased by the Air Ministry in the mid 1930s for a new airbase.




Fullers Road, showing a cottage
which once stood between Suggetts and Popes Farm

A British Legion Parade passing the Chequers in 1950


Chalk Hill and Lollingdon track

Chalk Hill runs from the junction of Baker Street and Aston Street up to the A417, with Lollingdon track leading off at the recreation ground junction. The name Lollingdon is thought to be of Roman origin, possible meaning - Lulla’s settlement .

Lollingdon was for many centuries the main route out of the village, because it remained drier in the winter than the land to the north of it. However in the 18th century a toll road at the top of Chalk Hill (on the present A417), greatly improved travel between settlements.

The Lollingdon track leads past Filberts and on towards  the moated Lollingdon Farm, nearby evidence of earlier houses has been found – possibly an abandoned medieval village. The poet John Masefield and his wife and family lived at Lollingdon Farm from 1914 to 1917. He wrote his series of sonnets and poems “Lollingdon Downs” while there along with his only war poem August 1914 and his book The Old Front Line.

Opposite Filberts is the five acre Astons Recreation Ground owned and managed by the parish council. It was purchased in 1897 by public subscription in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Chestnuts and limes were planted to mark its boundaries.

A new pavilion was built in 2009, replacing one built by the village football club in 1968, which in turn had replaced an earlier (thatched) pavilion which had burnt down in 1967. The current pavilion was the last of several improvements resulting from a Millennium recreation survey, which included a new hard surface play area and a youth shelter.

The adventure playground is believed to date from the 1953 Coronation celebrations, but has seen several phases of improvement by succeeding generations of families.



Baker Street

Baker Street has seen quite a few changes over the last century, with a number of ‘newer’ houses  along its length, some replacing demolished cottages and some in gaps along its length. 

An aerial photograph taken in 1971 shows some of the new buildings under construction, including Downs View, where a picturesque thatched cottage once stood.

House names along the road reflect both village families (The Lanes and Finches) and village enterprises (The Old Bakehouse and Keepers Cottage). 

The village’s last shop was situated in Baker Street, firstly in a temporary building and then a purpose built shop. In the 19th century shops were housed in people’s homes, and moved around as ownership changed. The village post office was located in three different homes in Baker Street alone over the years.

Our village had an active non-conformist congregation from the 18th century onwards, and The Manse - opposite the fine open space of Manor Paddock - was given in 1705 by the Fuller family for the minister’s residence. It was sold in the 1970's, at which point the manse moved to one of the two newly built houses next to Downs View. The community remains strong to this day.

The Chequers Pub stands at the crossroads of Fullers, Baker and Spring Lane - with the village war memorial standing opposite.

"Aston, like most old villages, used to have stocks and a pound - they stood on the triangle opposite the Chequers Inn. The pound was used occasionally for a stray cow or donkey til about 30 or 35 years ago, after which it fell to pieces and gradually , ."

From Lucy Fuller's history of the Astons, written in 1921.


The Villages' War Memorial

At the end of the 1914 -1918 war, land around the war memorial was offered by Mr Francis “Frank” John Kynaston Cross - landowner and owner of The Manor in Aston Tirrold - as a place for a memorial to be built using public donations and probably subscriptions. Restorations and maintenance work have taken place throughout the past century. Ownership of the war memorial was never officially confirmed, agreed or clarified until this year - although there are minute books of the 'Joint War Memorial Committee' in the parish councils' archive when the joint Parish Councils of both villages formally adopted the memorial, its land and the liability for its upkeep. It was renovated in 2014, with a grant from English Heritage,
to commemorate the centenary of the start of that war .

We know there was a service of commemoration at St Michael's Church on October 29th 1921 followed by an official unveiling of the monument. The war memorial would have been built sometime in 1921. We now have this amazing photograph (see above) showing the moment just after it was unveiled for the first time which was probably just before the Service of Dedication.


The Croft

The Croft is a road of two halves, with a mixture of housing from the 1930s and 40s on one side, and houses built in the 1970s on the other. Two older exceptions are Langdale, next to Croft Corner - originally a terrace of three cottages, and The Cottage - at one time the gardener to Croft House’s home.

The Croft did not originally link up to Aston Street, but rather wound round the back of the Manor’s kitchen gardens. In the 19th century the road was diverted by the Cross family to avoid it crossing their land. The kitchen gardens were built on in the 1970s. 

"For many years Aston had its own fire engine and brigade. They practised in what was then the Manor water-meadow, but now is a kitchen garden, and drew water from the mill-pond" 

From Lucy Fuller's history of the Astons, written in 1921.

  ,


Aston Street

Aston Street is the longest road through the village, and has many significant buildings along its stretch, including the larger and probably older of the villages’ two medieval village churches St Michael and All Angels. There is evidence of a Saxon doorway, but most of the church dates from the Norman period. It is listed in the Domesday survey of 1066, and in 1080 was granted to Preaux Abbey by William 1. It was extensively modernised in the late Victorian period by the incumbent rector Sir John Leigh Hoskyns, who added the north aisle and removed the medieval box pews, wall paintings and wooden gallery. Despite losing these medieval attractions St Michael’s remains a most attractive church.

Next to St. Michael’s is Aston Manor. The road next to the Manor, at that time Mill Lane, ran through the Manor grounds and linked up with The Croft, but just before the First World War the new owner of the Manor (Mr Cross) applied to change the route and create a new footpath away from his grounds, making Rectory Lane the quiet cul-de-sac it is today.

Opposite is Races Farm, originally the Manor’s coach house and electricity station but converted into offices in the 1990s, and more recently into two attractive residential units. These, together with a now demolished Dairy building, were part of a model farm built by Mr Cross, which included the fine Chalk Hill Cottages (next to the recreation ground) and Carrimers Farm on the A417 - the last remaining working farm in the Astons.

The old tithe Manor Barn is much older than the Manor itself, and includes a second barn attached to the rear which used to be called the Play Barn. Mrs Cross would hold parties for the village school children there, and it was also used for village meetings – in other words an early ‘community building’. It is believed that this may have been the barn where the first dissenter meetings were held in the village. The grounds include a grain barn raised on straddle stones.

Manor Farm House was designed and built in 1934, for the farm manager, by Williams Clough-Ellis of Portmerion fame. It originally had a central driveway and a classically symmetric design, and was known throughout the village as “the Doll’s House”. Clough-Ellis also designed some parts of the Manor's gardens.

The Old Rectory is in fact ‘new’, insofar as it was built in the 19th century by the Rev. Sir John Leigh Hoskyns to replace an older building he considered inadequate for modern life. In 1914 the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII, then the Duke of Windsor after his abdication) spent a night “encamped” in the Rectory’s Parish Room with other members of Magdalen College Officers Training Corps. This is the only recorded visit of royalty to Aston Tirrold.

The Old School House was the National School, built in 1847 (also by the Rev. Sir John Leigh Hoskyns) with an attached schoolmaster’s house to one side. An infant’s class was added in 1866 and the Gothic porch to the front in 1910. It was closed in 1971 when the children were sent to South Moreton School – doubling the school roll from one term to another.

Tirrold House dates from 1286 and is believed to be one of the oldest examples of a continuously inhabited house in Europe. The other part of this house, running parallel with the road, may have been built on the site of the old Hall and is of 16th century origin.


Thorpe Street

Thorpe street is the main road within Aston Upthorpe, and runs in an arc from Fullers Road back towards Spring Lane. 

The Village Hall stands on land purchased by public subscription in 1945. The first hall was a rented Nissen hut, but in 1964 a village resident, Paulise Lugg, founder of The Stockwell Players, built the present hall. She and her husband Herbert Lugg held outdoor productions of Shakespearian plays in the gardens at Stockwells, and they wanted to have somewhere indoors to rehearse.

Next to the hall is the church of All Saints’, a delightful rustic looking building with a steeple added in the late Victorian period. It has a 14th century roof, a 15th century west window, and a wooden porch probably dating from the early 17th century. Inside, on the north and south doorways, are medieval corbel heads of a king and bishop and traces of medieval painted plaster probably dating from the 15th century.

 Below are pictures of haymaking in Stockwells' paddock in the 1930's, and the house itself in 1971.

Next to All Saints’ is Thorpe Farm, probably built by the Slade family, who occupied it from 1521 to 1912. It includes a huge 16th century tithe barn within its grounds.

The neighbouring outbuildings and barns were converted to residential use in the 1970s.  The Granary and Old Church Barn are accessed from Thorpe Street, the third barn, Rose Barn is now accessed from Spring Lane. The Granary is a fine example of a corn storage barn raised on staddle stones.

Further along is the Old Boot House, a very popular village pub until its closure in 1992. Its main clientele were the jockeys and employees of the various stables in the villages. In the 1960s there were four separate equestrian establishments within the villages.

At the junction of Thorpe Street with Hagbourne Road are a pair of semi-detached houses built by John Morris (his initials JM and the date 1912 are on the gable), as part of his extensive equestrian business, originally part of Thorpe Farm. Next to them is Frimley Yard, named after the racing stables on the site until the beginning of this century. 



Spring Lane

Spring Lane is one of the dividing roads between the two parishes, with the village war memorial standing on the crossroads. The memorial was erected and consecrated in 1919, and renovated in 2014, with a grant from English Heritage, to commemorate the centenary of the start of that war.

"Aston, like most old villages, used to have stocks and a pound - they stood on the triangle opposite the Chequers Inn. The pound was used occasionally for a stray cow or donkey til about 30 or 35 years ago, after which it fell to pieces and gradually , ."

From Lucy Fuller's history of the Astons, written in 1921.

The nonconformist Meeting House (now called the United Reformed Church) was built in 1728. It one of the oldest of its kind in the country and well worth a visit.  A few yards away is the former non-conformist British School, which closed in 1906. The ownership of the school building was retained by the church and rented out, but in the 1970's it was sold and the proceeds used to build a new church hall, now the Centre for Reflection.

At the end of the 19th century the Fullers were the main nonconformist landowning family in the village, and lived at Copse Stile house, just past the nonconformist meeting house. The minister there, the Reverend Curry, had a strong interest in the new science of photography, and many of his pictures show the Fuller family, and especially the Fuller children, in their garden at Copse Stile House and around the villages.

Have a look at the page dedicated to his work in this history section of this website. They are a marvellous record of village life in the Victorian era.


ASTONS DIGITAL COMMUNITY ARCHIVE (ADCA)

The Astons History Group archive of pictures, and documents, is gradually being digitised and added to our community archive. Do you have any interesting photos that could be scanned and added to the village archive? 

Contact: astonshistory94@gmail.com