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. 

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 hosted an amazing exhibition weekend of talks and exhibits in the village hall in November 2014, and another in November 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of the war.

The following booklets based on our WW1 project are available for sale (priced at £6 each). If you would like to order any of these publications either contact us on astonshistory94@gmail.com 

  •            Wee Joe: From Galloway to Flanders Fields.
  •            Astons fallen soldiers. (our 16 village soldiers)
  •            The Astons Home Front: the role of women during WW1.
  •            We will remember them : extracts from the exhibition. (Due Feb.2019)

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The family of Dr Robert Moon very kindly gave us access to his unpublished diaries from when he lived at Copsestyle in Aston Tirrold.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 .  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

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. This can be read in our publication "The Astons' Home Front: the role of women during WW1" - see details of our WW1 publications above.

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

The 2014 exhibition at the village Hall

Families listening to the audio histories

2018

We repeated our exhibition in November 2018 to mark the centenary of the Armistice and the end of the war, with fascinating additional material gained from several descendants of our village soldiers who had attended our first exhibition.

An extended ceremony was carried out at our village war memorial, followed by the Service of Remembrance at the United Reformed Church . Our three village churches take it in turn to host this service.