This article first appeared in Issue 200 and it documents the first twenty or so years of the magazine’s life.
In a pre-launch issue of The Chronicle, editor-elect Graham Parker wrote "The Parish Council has accepted the responsibility of producing a monthly newsletter for the village and somehow or other I appear to have been given the job as editor - the principle reason for the dubious honour is probably that I was not at the meeting when the position was discussed". Issue Number 1 of The Chronicle hit the streets in September 1983. Articles told how Aston Abbotts came second in Bucks in the Best Kept Village competition; an item on the possibility of connecting households to North Sea Gas; Gardening Tips; the Aston Abbotts Cookbook; and a report on the 1983 fete, which was opened by Vic Scott and raised £969.17. There was also an update on Parish Council activities, with the Parish Council then consisting of Colin Higgs (chairman), John Whyte, Peter Dines, Graham Parker, Les Smith and David Watts. A reply slip asked for views on the future of the Church Room (199 issues later The Chronicle was to do the same again). A feature article by Ruth and David Watts touched on 900 years of Aston Abbotts history and the Message From The Rector Fr. John Heffer, in addition to wishing The Chronicle well, gave news of a forthcoming visit by the Bishop of Buckingham (I feel a limerick coming on).And with this first issue of 12 pages The Chronicle was established, garnering a favourable reaction from villagers.The first issues contained no advertising, but by issue 3 Graham was saying, "This issue of funding must be faced," and estimating the annual cost at £150. Free distribution was an essential guiding principle of The Chronicle and issue 5 in January 1984 carried the first advertisements.By the time The Chronicle celebrated its first year in publication with issue 12 the 'Noticeboard' page - the forerunner to our Peoples Page and What's On pages - was becoming established and regular contributors were emerging, including an occasional column written by 'Bucket Of Booze' which poked fun at village events. Local news included the granting of planning permission for conversion of the former school to a restaurant, despite a petition against it signed by 42 local residents. Less than a year later the Old Masters was open and Juan had become a regular advertiser supporting The Chronicle, as he still does today.Issue 12 also contained the news that Aston Abbotts had won the Gurney cup for the best kept village in Bucks and the first anniversary issue carried more news of this including a reprinted newspaper report telling how Aston Abbotts resident Kitty Kelleher was praising Parish Councillors for their efforts towards the award.By the end of 1984 editor Graham Parker was threatening to "bore you into submission" if he didn't receive more articles, and admitting that The Chronicle was running at a loss.1985 saw the Chronicle reporting on a planning application to build three houses between the Royal Oak and Oak Farm (this was to become The Acorns) and issue 27 featured the first Andy Bystra cartoon showing Ernie and Eileen Naylor leaving the Bull and Butcher. The Noticeboard page had metamorphosed into the Peoples Page, edited by Bridget Brandon, with a separate events listing.In January 86 Graham reported The Chronicle as still running at a loss, despite contributions from the Parish Council (£10) and the Christmas Show (£5)). At that time few people realised that Graham was making up the deficit out of his own pocket.Issue 30 in February saw the first Andy Bystra cover drawing and some sun appeared on the financial horizon with the publication of a letter
from 'The Friends Of The Chronicle':Dear Graham,The purpose of this letter is two fold. Firstly to extend thanks to you for the work you do in bringing out the Chronicle ever month. The paper is enjoyed by a great many people and is a source of conversation in many houses not to mention pubs. It is something we all look forward to dropping through our letter boxes. The second reason is that we would like to be of some help. Some of us send in the odd article, some of us raise funds which eventually get to you, some of us just smile as we read.However we realise that you need additional funds to run the Chronicle and we would like to ensure its future health. In conversations this Christmas we came up with the idea of "THE FRIENDS OF THE CHRONICLE".This would be a group of people willing to contribute a small sum of money on an occasional basis to give your venture some additional security.The authors of this letter have already volunteered to become a "Friend" By the publication of this letter we would ask any one else who enjoys the Chronicle and who would like to become a "FRIEND" to contact any one of the people below.Yours sincerely,Andy Bystra, Bridget Brandon, Chris Brandon. Neil Chesher, Margaret Chesher, Helga Davies, Stuart Davies, Fred Poulter, Molly Poulter, Patricia Sims, Patrick Sims, Tricia Webb, Marshall Webb, John Whyte, Dee Whyte and Rita Robinson.In the same issue another letter from Basil Bottom threatened to take over The Chronicle, saying, "I am thinking of making a bid for your magazine and to thereby increase the size of my publishing empire. At present I produce the following: The Undertakers Weekly, - but the circulation of this publication seems to be dying". The peoples page had the following message, "Congratulations to John and Dee Whyte who are expecting their first child. John tells me they are desperately seeking a name for their child. Perhaps you can help. Please contact John with any suggestions. Matt, Off, Brilliant, and Gloss have already been suggested." [I understand that there was also the inspired suggestion of Isla - webmaster]As 1986 progressed Fr John Heffer made an appeal for a demonstration at the dangerous Wingrave crossroads following the death of Wingrave cyclist David Gaskell. The campaigning and protest was to gain momentum over the year featuring in local newspapers as well as in The Chronicle. 'View From The Corner Of The Bar', penned by Neil Chesher, appeared and by the middle of the year contributions and fund-raising events were beginning to ensure a future for The Chronicle. The village shop started selling Bric-a-brac and The Chronicle expressed its best wishes to the O'Sullivan and Perkins families whose homes were destroyed by fire. Peter Knight won first prize in the Bucks farming and Wildlife competition.