North Aston ~ A Millennium
Click here for a contents listing of the book
Click here to view the full index for the book
The book and its value to genealogists
Photographs and illustrations in the book
Maps and reference in the book
The technical specifications of the book
How to order a copy of the book
Discover more about North Aston, the village
How to make contact with the publishers

It is over 100 years since William Wing published his book, The Annals of North Aston. This small pocketbook has long been out of print, and is rarely found in second hand book shops. Although it remains a valuable historical resource, it has no illustrations (to speak of), is woefully out of date, and cannot be described as a readily accessible point of reference.

With the approach of the new millennium in 1998, it was decided to mark the occasion by publishing a book that recorded the state of North Aston at the turn of the new century. It was to be called The New North Aston Domesday Book, and like the original edition of 1086, would act as a permanent record of the village. Pretty soon, however, the scope of the intended book broadened, thanks largely to the dedication and commitment of so many contributors. Rather than just a narrowly scoped, relatively small and cheaply produced booklet, possibly photocopied, it was decided to "do the job properly". North Aston - A Millennium is the result.

Considerably more than merely a snapshot of the village, North Aston - A Millennium is a worthy successor to William Wing's Annals. Not only does it cover the full history of North Aston, from the time of the Roman invasion through to the late Nineteenth Century, but it picks up where Wing left off, continuing to record the village's colourful past all the way through to the present day.

That period, from the days of Wing to the year 2000, saw more change in the landscape and community of North Aston than the entire one thousand years that preceded it. Perhaps uniquely, the North Aston of 1907 would have remained largely familiar to the Norman scholars who made their record of 1086. Still retained as part of a single manorial estate, the whole village changed little in over 800 years. Even the size of population remained largely static, and perhaps only a half dozen more houses were built. More significantly, an essentially rural way of life survived intact.

Only with that final sale of the estate in 1907 did radical change come to North Aston, and with it a danger that the memories of those who could recall "the old ways" would be gone and lost for ever. During the course of the century that followed, the estate was split up, with several larger properties sold off, other land acquired and farms amalgamated, and the era of the tenant farmers came to an end. New houses were built, and the age-old tradition of handing on homes, and jobs, from one generation to the next, largely disappeared.

Thankfully, many of the original North Aston families survive, with names that ring as true today as they did five hundred years ago, and with their help, and the enthusiastic contributions from other residents more recently arrived, North Aston - A Millennium was conceived and created.

It soon became evident that it would not be possible to do justice to the book in the few months that remained before the end of the Twentieth Century, and so a new deadline was sought. 2007 became the chosen date, since it marked two important anniversaries. For North Aston, it was exactly 100 years since the sale of 1907, but for Oxfordshire as a whole, it was 1000 years since the founding of the County.

Eventually, after nearly eight years, the book finally went to print. It had been very much a labour of love, but the result is, it is hoped, a worthy testament to the hard work and diligence of all those who have contributed so much of their time and effort. Hardbacked and properly bound, it could grace any coffee table, but more correctly, it should also represent a valuable source of reference and a fascinating read..

Marcus Potts, Co-editor

It is with the deepest regret that we announce that John Harvey-Lee, the co-author and driving force behind North Aston - A Millennium, passed away on the morning of Friday 22nd September 2017. He was an example to us all and will be hugely missed.