Created by Barry Thompson © 2011-2017 Aston on Trent on Trent Local History Group, all rights reserved
Aston on Trent History – Settlement and Colonisation - Part 2
In 1086 Aston on Trent was a Berwick of the Royal manor of Weston, formerly held by Earl Alfgar. The Earl’s estate was assessed to the gold at 10
carucates and 2½ bovates, a bovate being the eighth part of a carucate, and a carucate being the land which could be tilled by eight oxen in a
normal farming year, usually reckoned to be 120 acres. At the conquest the 1066 the manor was reckoned to have enough land to support a many
ploughs as the gold assessment indicated. As the gold assessment was fossilized, dating from the late 10th or early 11th century there can have
been little or no colonization for several generations.
By 1086, the picture had changed. There were three ploughs in demesne, on the lands retained by the Crown for its own use, and a further 12
ploughs shared by 24 villeins or peasant farmers, and six borders or small peasant farmers. These villains must have had substantial farms of
three or four bovates each, very large by the standard of the day. There were also four Censaril, tenants, who paid money rents totalling 16s.
Money rents in 1086 indicated a high degree of personal freedom. The Censaril were probably equivalent to the free men recorded by Domesday
in other counties. They were rare in the extreme in Derbyshire. These few tenants were probably active colonists on a fairly big scale. There
were two churches and a priest, a mill rendering 19s 4d yearly, a fishery and ferry rendering 13s 4d yearly. 51 acres of meadow and pasture one
league in length by three furlongs in breadth. In 1066, the whole lot was worth £8 yearly and doubled to £16 in 1086.
It is clear that this entry for Weston manor covers land and other hereditaments in the hands of the king, his peasant farmers and his tenants as
formerly held by Earl Alfgar throughout the settlement of Weston, Aston, Shardlow and Wilne. From architectural traces in the present churches
of Weston and Aston, it is obvious that they are the two Domesday churches of the royal manor. The ferry is known to have been at Wilne later in
the middle ages, and it is extremely unlikely that its site has been changed. Landing stages, rights of access and roads, one established, are not
easily moved. It had probably linked Wilne with Earl Alfgar’s estate across the river at Castle Donington for many years before it was recorded in
1086. The fishery obviously ran the length of the river, and the meadow and pastures were far too expensive to have been confined to the
settlement at Weston.