Aston, Hertfordshire
Aston is a village and civil parish
Civil parish
In England, a civil parish is a territorial designation and, where they are found, the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties...

 in the East Hertfordshire
East Hertfordshire
East Hertfordshire is a local government district in Hertfordshire, England. Its council has offices in Bishop's Stortford and Hertford ....

 district of Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 844.
Located in Hertfordshire on a ridge between the new-town of Stevenage
Stevenage is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England. It is situated to the east of junctions 7 and 8 of the A1, and is between Letchworth Garden City to the north, and Welwyn Garden City to the south....

 and the Beane Valley
River Beane
The River Beane is a tributary of the River Lea. It rises to the south-west of Sandon, Hertfordshire in the hills northeast of Stevenage in Hertfordshire....

, the village of Aston is just 10 minutes drive from the A1(M).
A mile north of Aston lies Aston End
Aston End
Aston End is a village in Hertfordshire, England....

, a hamlet which has strong social and geophysical ties with the village. Hooks Cross, another hamlet in the Parish, straddles the A602
A602 road
The A602 is a road linking Hitchin in Hertfordshire, England, with A10 at Ware in Hertfordshire, via Stevenage.The course of the road has changed significantly since the 1960s with the construction of several bypasses and relief roads....

, Stevenage to Hertford
Hertford is the county town of Hertfordshire, England, and is also a civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district of the county. Forming a civil parish, the 2001 census put the population of Hertford at about 24,180. Recent estimates are that it is now around 28,000...

Aston is known locally for its conviviality and, despite its modest size, boasts a great many clubs, societies and interest groups as well as hosting a very successful annual school fete.
During the reign of Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor also known as St. Edward the Confessor , son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066....

 (1024–66), the manor
Manorialism, an essential element of feudal society, was the organizing principle of rural economy that originated in the villa system of the Late Roman Empire, was widely practiced in medieval western and parts of central Europe, and was slowly replaced by the advent of a money-based market...

 (i.e. the land) of "Estone" was held by three vassals of Stigend, Archbishop of Canterbury. Their names are not known but some land is recorded as that of Wulf the Dane.

By the time Domesday Book
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

 was completed (1086), the small community of Estone, now Aston, was made up of about twenty-five families and included a priest. So it seems that there was a church at that time and it was almost certainly on the site of the present Aston St Mary's.

King William I
William I of England
William I , also known as William the Conqueror , was the first Norman King of England from Christmas 1066 until his death. He was also Duke of Normandy from 3 July 1035 until his death, under the name William II...

 gave 185 manors, including that of Estone, to his ruthless and ambitious half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. Odo's deceptions, and his burning aspiration to become Pope, so offended the King that he was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. His treasures and estates, including Estone, reverted to the Crown

The manor, now in Royal possession, was presented by King Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

 in dower to his second wife, eighteen year-old Adelicia, upon their marriage in 1121.

In that same year Henry founded the Abbey at Reading
Reading Abbey
Reading Abbey is a large, ruined abbey in the centre of the town of Reading, in the English county of Berkshire. It was founded by Henry I in 1121 "for the salvation of my soul, and the souls of King William, my father, and of King William, my brother, and Queen Maud, my wife, and all my ancestors...

. After the King died in 1135, the Dowager Queen visited Reading Abbey on the first anniversary of her husband's death and bestowed on the Abbot and Monks of the Monastery the gift of "Easton" Manor.

Easton, so named at this time, remained under monastic control for three hundred years until the Dissolution
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

 (1536–39), when King Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 proclaimed himself supreme head of the Church. The Abbot of Reading, along with two of his clerks, was publicly and brutally murdered for refusing to surrender the Abbey. Distributing the spoils amongst his courtiers, Henry gave the manor of "Aston", for the tenth part of a Knight's fee, and a rent of seventeen shillings and eleven pence, to the local favourite Sir Philip Boteler, Sheriff of Hertford

Sir Philip ruled at Woodhall in the contiguous parish of Watton
Watton-at-Stone is a village in the English county of Hertfordshire, situated midway between the towns of Stevenage and Hertford in the valley of the River Beane. The 2001 census showed a population of 2,272, living in 921 households...

. To establish himself on his new territory, he chose the site of a ruined building, probably of monastic origin and, using some of the structure and stone from the ruin, he built the manor house which we now know as Astonbury.

During World War II, Aston House, opposite the church (demolished in the 1960s) was occupied by the Special Operations Executive
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

, engaged in the design, testing and production of explosives and secret weapons for use in sabotage operations and guerilla warfare.

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