The idea of a village sign was discussed some five years ago to celebrate Derbyshire Federation of Womens Institute's 75th birthday. We also felt there was nothing in the village to indicate there is a thriving W.I. in Aston on Trent.
Robin Gibbard, a local artist of Aston on Trent, designed and researched the local historical associations of the sign and we started fund raising. The wrought?iron work was crafted at a small forge in Shardlow by Graham Dawson who was very enthusiastic when he saw the design. The sign was then taken to Staunton Harold where Tim Margett carried out the beautiful sign work in his studio. Aston on Trent Parish Council set aside a sum of money to have the base erected, which was carried out by villager and architect Phil Bilham. The Village Sign was erected in 1998 and stands on the village green opposite the White Hart.
The notes below describe the various parts of the shield, the notes are taken from the original W.I. plans.
- The tower of our village church of All Saints with its distinctive off centre clock. The Church is considered to be of Saxon origin, having traces of pre?Norman tooling, though it is possible the original was of wood.
- Either side of the church tower are the horns of the Hunt family.
The Hunts formally of Overton in Ashover had an estate and were seated hereabout around the reign of Elizabeth I / James I or before this time. John Hunt, in 1630, gave the communion table now in the church. Their lands were purchased by Robert Holden in 1614.
- The first (top right hand corner) quarter of the shield shows the moorcock ? the coat of arms of the Holden family. The Holden family (formerly of Shardlow) first took over the Manor of Aston around 1649 when the previous owner got into debt and had to sell. The Holdens held Aston Hall with sons becoming Rector for many years being succeeded in 1877 by his grandson Col. Ed. Charles Shuttleworth Holden.
- The second (top left hand corner) quarter of the shield shows a wheat sheaf and malt shovel indicating the village connection with the monks of Chester who held lands and church in medieval times. The Earl of Chester made over to the monks tithe of Weston and church at Aston and the monastery continued to hold Aston with short breaks when it reverted to King or Pope until around 1547.
- The centre of the shield shows the Saxon Cross which predates our church and is found incorporated into the Church wall ? another indication of our villages' ancient past. The Saxon Cross with a reticulated pattern is built into the west wall of the north aisle.
- Bottom right hand corner of the shield shows by two lines the cursus or ancient roadway/ditch and the burial urn found in the fields either side of the trackway to Aston Lock. The fields were excavated in 1967 by Mr. Jef. May of Nottingham University after an aerial photo had revealed the site some years earlier by showing crop?marks extending over several fields between Aston, Shardlow and the Trent and Mersey Canal. Shards of pottery were found within the ditched enclosures also the beaker (now in Derby Museum) and is considered to be an Iron Age settlement or Romano?British date. The excavation report states "the discovery of a great complex of sites at Aston on Trent in the flood plain show similarities between sites at Red Hill 4 1/2 miles from Aston. Pottery remains resemble finds in East Yorkshire at Bardyke Field and the Aston site was the first to show that these people had moved down the Trent settling on the flat flood plain".
- The Village Pump. Now unused and no pump remaining within the building, at one time the cottages relied on the water pumped from below ground for all their daily needs.
- The bottom of the shield shows the blue wavy lines resembling the River Trent from which Aston takes its name. The Trent must have been important to the village years ago and also a menace when in flood, also in pre?medieval times when it probably changed course a few times at high water. The Trent also probably brought the first people to live primitive lives along its banks.
- Either side of the shield are a pair of swans and scrolled ironwork as shown on the decorative gates to Aston Lodge (the house stood in the area of Lodge Estate). The gates are now erected in West Park, Long Eaton. What a pity they could not have remained here in Aston as another link with the villages past.
- Over the whole shield as a background we have the cross of Saint George.
- To finish the Village Sign we have the name of our village 'Aston upon Trent' so that this colourful village sign will attract attention. It is to be noted that Norfolk is the county that displays with pride the most ornamental village signs and most have been erected by the W.I. and nearly all depict, history, legend or bygone trade or distinguishing local aspect peculiar to their own village. The sign cost in the region £1000