History of All Saints', Aston on Trent
Timeline of Important Dates
653 AD Christianity comes to the Trent Valley. Four priests came south from
Lindisfarne to nearby Repton for the marriage of Elfleda, daughter
of the King of Northumbria, to King Paeda of Mercia who, as a
condition of the marriage, converted to Christianity.
653 - 700 Christian missionaries came to Aston on Trent from Repton.
A fragment from a Celtic preaching cross exists in the west wall
of the church suggesting that a Saxon church or preaching cross
stood on this site prior to the Norman Conquest.
1009 A Royal Charter of King Aethelred gives the manor of Weston, which
includes Aston, Shardlow and Great Wilne, to Morcar. The parish
boundaries are established.
1066 - Subsequent to the Norman Conquest, King William gave his nephew
Hugh d’Avranches command of Tutbury Castle, but in 1071 Hugh
was elevated to become Earl of Chester. During his lifetime he
conferred part of the manor of Weston and lands in Aston, Shardlow
and Great Wilne upon the monks of the Abbey of St. Werburgh at
Chester. The advowson of the rectory of Aston was also given to the
1101 Death of Hugh Earl of Chester. As the main founder and benefactor,
he was buried in the Abbey of St.Werburgh, which in later years
became Chester Cathedral.
1100 All Saints’ gained its tower, the lower part of which could be of
to Saxon origin but up to the clock face it is of typical Norman
1150 architectural design. Entry to the church would have been through
a door on the west side of the tower and beneath the Norman
nave/tower arch, on its south side, can be seen a dedication cross.
1150 This Early English architectural period saw the removal of much of
to the Norman influence including the nave pillars and arches. The font
1270 is unusual in design and is of the transformation period between
Norman and Early English.
1257 Under the reign of Henry lll (1207-72) the monks of the Abbey of
St. Werburgh were granted a weekly market and a three day fair at
1291 The Taxation Roll of this year gives the annual value of the Aston
Rectory as £33.6s 8d (£33.33) – a very large sum for that time.
1300 The church was enlarged by addition of the south aisle, the windows
to being of the Decorated style. The north aisle was also constructed
1400 towards the end of this period, but to a different architectural style
– this being Perpendicular. Both aisles would have been dedicated
as Lady Chapels, probably to The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Katherine.
The nave roof was also raised to accommodate a clerestory allowing
more light into the body of the church and the line of the
original gabled roof over the chancel and nave arches can still be
seen. The chancel windows are of the transitional period of
Decorated to Perpendicular – i.e. late 14th century.
1400 Chancel roof raised and a clerestory formed on its north side and
to the Perpendicular east window installed.
1500 During this period the tower was increased in height to accommodate
a belfry and buttresses added to spread the additional weight.
1500 This was a turbulent century in the history of the church. It was
to dominated by the English Reformation, which Henry VIII
1600 countenanced for both political and personal reasons. This saw
The Church of England break away from the authority of the Pope
and the Roman Catholic Church.
The Dissolution of Monasteries took place between the years
1536 to 1541 and it was during this period that the Abbey of
St. Werburgh of Chester lost control of its Aston and other
Under Henry VIII, who died in 1547, and his son Edward VI, (died
1553), and Mary I, who restored the Roman Catholic faith, (died
1558), and finally Elizabeth I, who once again severed connection
with the Roman Catholic church, there were many changes to the
form of worship.
Church services were now conducted in English and pews
introduced in the expectation that people would sit and listen to
Some of Aston’s pews are undoubtedly of Tudor origin.
In a church inventory of 1552 there is listed a set of handbells, a
sanctuary bell and bells in the "steeple." The latter were probably
replaced, as the earliest bells still in existence were cast by Henry
Oldfield in 1590 and 1594.
1600 Upon the death of Elizabeth in 1603 England and Scotland became
to united under her successor King James I of the house of Stuart.
1700 Religious affairs remained in a state of turmoil.
In 1611 the King James Version of the Bible was published with
considerable impact upon the English church. It is still in wide use
in the 21st century.
Puritanism had its roots in Tudor times and gained momentum
during the reign of James I.
James I died in 1625 to be followed by his son Charles I.
Charles I executed in 1649 when control of government fell to
Oliver Cromwell who ruled as Lord Protector over the
Commonwealth of England until his death in 1658.
During this Puritan period many of the statues, medieval stained
glass and the rood screen and loft would have been removed from
Cromwell died in 1658 and two years later The Restoration
of the monarchy took place with the return of Charles II to the
1630 John Hunt, once owner of the original Aston Hall, donated the altar
table, which is still carved with his name.
1644 The Rector, Richard Clarke, a Royalist sympathiser, removes
himself and family from Aston Rectory owing to continued
harassment and pillaging by Parliamentarians. His living was
sequestered to Thomas Palmer.
1646 Richard Clarke and family move back into Aston Rectory.
The Committee for Plundered Ministers ordered Richard Clarke
to quit the Rectory but allowed his wife and family to remain.
1648 Robert Holden becomes the largest land owner in Aston after the
break-up of the Manor of Weston. He also gains the advowson,
that is the right to present a nominee to occupy a vacant
1660 Under the terms of the Restoration Settlement Richard Clarke is
re-instated to the benefice of Aston.
1726 The Rectory is built next to the Church. Later additions during
Victorian times but Demolition takes place in 1969.
1788 A musicians gallery was erected at the west end of the nave.
Funding for this was provided by the proprietors of the Trent
and Mersey Canal Company. The music accompanied the singing
of psalms and canticles as the singing of hymns did not become
widely popular until the middle to late 19th century.
1837 The parish of Aston is divided. Until this time villagers from
Shardlow and Great Wilne had worshipped at All Saints’, Aston.
From the opening of the Trent and Mersey canal in 1777 these
villagers had the option of travelling to church by canal narrow
1869 The Reverend James Shuttleworth Holden becomes Rector of the
benefice of Aston.
1873 All Saints’ was judiciously restored by the squire of Aston,
Edward Anthony Holden.
As an organ was now available, the musicians gallery was
removed. The Tickhill tomb was taken from its location between
the chancel north arches and re-sited in the north aisle.
The finely carved oak choir stalls are of this period and are the
work of Aston village carpenter George Halliday.
Some pews were replaced but the Tudor examples were retained.
The reredos and pulpit of Caen stone were also installed as part of
the 1873 restoration.
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries All Saints’ gained an
impressive number of stained glass windows.
1877 The benefactor of the church restoration of 1873, Edward Anthony
Holden, dies at the age of 72 and subsequently the outstanding
east window is installed to his memory.
1890 Parishoners donated the tower clock as a tribute to Edward
1916 Death of the Reverend James Shuttleworth Holden. He had been
Rector for 47 years. The lych gate was erected to his memory -
also a stained glass window in the south aisle. He was the last
member of the Holden family to have lived in Aston.
1969 Georgian/Victorian Rectory demolished and a new Rectory built
on the former site. The Rectory gardens sold for housing
development and the former coach house and stables
converted into private dwellings.
1970 A new vestry building was erected in the churchyard.
1980s The tower glazed screen installed to form a room for young
children to play during services.
1993 Launch of the Aston Heritage Appeal to raise funds for
restoration of the church roof. £100,000 was the target.
1998 Service of Thanskgiving for the restoration of the church roof.
2011 The churchyard vestry re-built and extended to become
The All Saints’ Heritage Centre.