The land at Aston was part of the vast estate given to Bishop Odo by his cousin William I after the Norman Conquest. By the time of the Domesday Book it was said that “the Bishop himself holds Eston” implying that the church was built on his orders.
In 1088 Odo forfeited all his lands and Aston with its church and six cottages became a Crown possession. Henry I gave the estate to his wife Adeliza who, to commemorate the first anniversary of his death in 1136, in turn gifted it to the monks of Reading Abbey on the condition that they pray for the King’s soul on the anniversary of his death. This they did until the Dissolution arrived in 1536.
The oldest surviving parts of the church date to around 1230, the tower was added in the 15th Century. Up until 1505 the Church was dedicated to St. James, but in that year it was shifted to St. Mary.
The church was, as usual, restored during the late Victorian period and the lych gate was added in 1921.
Today Aston is on the edge of Stevenage and in danger of being swamped by the modern town, managing to just about retain its separate character.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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