What Maps Reveal: 

With the wonders of SatNav, maps are used less regularly in every day life these days, but maps are still a vital tool when investigating our communities and how they  changed and developed over the centuries. In this section you will see a selection of Aston specific maps that reveal a hidden history. 

Village specific maps were created for a range of reasons - these first two (below) were created by estate agents putting significant Aston estates onto the market. The 1951 map in particular shows several orchards and paddocks that were built on in the 1960's and 70's:


Aston Manor estate sale in 1951

Hamptons' map for the sale of the Manor estate sale in 1951.

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Sale of the Upthorpe Stud estate

Lane Fox's' map for the sale of the Upthorpe Stud estate in the late 1970's.

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A mystery revealed:

National mapping by Ordnance Survey began at the beginning of the 19th century in response to military needs highlighted by the Scottish rebellion of 1745 and the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). This map (left) was surveyed  in 1876, and unexpectedly reveals the intriguing history of a house on the corner of Moreton Road and Thorpe Street (now called The White House). The map shows it a much larger property in this position, and with a garden extending further along Thorpe Street.                  

 click HERE for a larger image of this map                                                                                

                                                                  


Looking at the Curry slide of that corner from the 1890's (1) you can see an extra wing to the front and a porch canopy which in a 1930's photo (2) can be seen on the 'new' front wall of the building. In the 1990's photo (3) an extra window can be seen to have been added to the first floor. However thinking about that stretch of road as it is now what is missing from the 1876 map is Orchard House, a large house with extensive gardens built in 1910. 

POSSIBLE CONCLUSION: a fire ravaged the front wing of 'The White House' and while derelict a large section of the garden was sold to the owner of the proposed new building? 

What were the Curry Slides? See our sub page 'The Curry Slides. CLICK to find out more

(1) 1890's Curry slide

(2) 1930's 'matching' photo

(3) 1990 comparison 

LOOK CLOSELY: on closer inspection the Curry slide (1) shows 'The White House' with three elements - main house to the front, an attached cottage (with its own front door and steps to the road) and lastly an attached barn. Building works to the middle section in the 1980's revealed a lower floor level, so presumably when the cottage was combined with the main house (possibly at the same time as the ownership changes above) the floor and roof were raised to match.

Other examples of specific Aston mapping:

This handwritten map was drawn up in the early 1990's to show where shops had once been, and also where cottages had been demolished during the 1960's and 70's. Agricultural employment had reduced hugely in the first half of the 20th century, and many estate cottages were no longer required. (click on the map for a larger image)

This map from about 1910 shows not only the recreation ground (established in 1897) but also the allotments across the road on Chalk Hill. These were established we believe in 1895, largely in response to the enclosure of common land which lost villagers vital crop and grazing rights. 

On the left is a cottage next to the National School in Aston Street -  demolished in the 1960's (Skirmers and Blacksmiths Cottage to the right).

A Curry slide from the 1890's, showing Chalk Hill just above the allotments, and another now demolished cottage (front right). 

The 18th and 19th centuries saw the medieval landscape of strip and common lands being replaced by larger and more efficient field systems.The process of enclosing common fields in Berkshire took place between 1738 and 1883 (the Astons were in Berkshire until 1974). TO BE CONTINUED...

Allotments were set up on Chalk Hill in 1895, but these did not fully compensate for the loss of common grazing and gathering rights.

Enclosure maps and awards are an incredibly detailed record of land holdings and ownership. The  information they provide can be almost compared to the Doomsday Book survey some 800 years earlier. Field names marked on those enclosure maps often remain to this day. 

In 1965 the National Federation of Womens Institutes (as part of their celebration their mark their 50th anniversary) invited individual institutes to create field name maps for their areas. The Astons maps were  researched by Jenny  Worthington, and give a real sense of connection with our agricultural past as we continue to walk our footpaths. The WI don't just make jam!

The Astons' racing tradition: An unexpected discovery:

Our village and its surroundings are full of clues to our equestrian past - visible stable blocks, a (recent) road name, gallops up on the Downs - a special page on the subject is currently under preparation. When researching our mapping history however we came across this Race Meetings map on the website of the National Library of Scotland, which shows all race meetings for the year of 1907 and associated racing stables. It marks the Aston Upthorpe stables of Major Morris (see detail) who started the Thorpe Street racing stables most recently known as Frimley Stables, and Upthorpe Stud. What serendipity!

Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Click HERE for a larger image

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Click HERE for a larger image

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