North Aston ~ A Millennium
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North Aston - A Millennium is generously illustrated with over 240 photographs, line drawings, sketches, maps and reproductions of historic paintings. Some, including Sir Joshua Reynold's famous painting of young Jane Bowles with Venus, her dog, and the extract from the Domesday Book of 1086, showing the entry for "Estone", are printed in full colour. The majority, however, as befits a book covering so many centuries of history, are in black and white.

Many of these images are from private collections, and a majority have certainly never appeared in print before. Some had been hidden away in drawers and envelopes, protected for generations, but others had been well loved, handled, creased and faded almost to the point of invisibility. As part of the process of researching and preparing this book, all the photographs were digitally scanned at high resolution, and then carefully "restored" so that the true magic of some of these very early images could be appreciated once more. In some cases this process took many hours of painstaking work, but the results have been unquestionably worthwhile.

Included amongst the collection are some that date from the very dawn of photography, and others hold strong and poignant memories. The image of Captain Charles Bowles (here shown on the left quite small, but larger on the home page) is such an example. This photograph was almost certainly taken in 1854 or 1855, just months before the Captain left for the Crimea, where he died on June 25th 1855 at Varnoutka. He was 39. “I have with much sorrow to report the very sudden death from Cholera of Captain Charles Bowles 10th Hussars; an Officer of great merit who had served in India with distinction and is much regretted in the Regiment,” said Lord Raglan in his despatch from Sebastopol.

Other images are not of the rich or famous, but of the people of the village. These reflect the true character of a rural community during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and remind us of a past now lost, but still remembered by a few.

Where the book delves into earlier centuries, before the days of photography, images are harder to find. The book includes a number of reproductions of early sketches, watercolours and paintings, but these are generously supported by a wealth of charming cartoons and line drawings by local artist (and co-editor of the book) John Harvey-Lee.