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Until the twentieth century the business of the parish was primarily agricultural. The land around Aston Abbotts was, and still is, predominately pasture, but there is still enough arable land to support various crops. In the 1700s a a farm labourer could expect to receive a shilling (five pence or 7 US cents) for a days work in summer, less in winter. By the nineteenth century this had risen to 12-13 shillings a week (about £1). This for a twelve hour day, six days a week. Everybody worked on the land, including women and children. Small boys and girls were given the job of bird-scaring and by the age of 10 or 11 boys would be old enough to handle the ploughing teams. Other important local industries were lace making and straw plaiting (for hats and bonnets). In fact, by 1813 these were the two primary industries in the county and many women and young girls were employed in this trade instead of working the fields. However, by the end of the 1800s the trade had dwindled.
Aston Abbotts field
Education was not a priority in those days. It was not until 1880 that it became compulsory and as a result many villagers prior to then could neither read nor write. In 1867 the vicar of Aston Abbotts complained that he was unable to find a man who could read so could act as Parish Clerk. This problem had been recognised earlier in the century and the village school had been built in 1849. At first parents had to pay for their children's education, but when education became compulsory (and later free) all children attended the school. The school continued until the 1970s, when dwindling class sizes and changes in education forced its closure. However, the building has remained and until the beginning of 2003 was used as 'The Old Masters' Spanish restaurant. Now the old school is a private residence.
Agriculture, Industry
Ridge and Furrow farming landscape in Aston Abbotts
Low sun accentuates the remains of medieval ridge and furrow farming in Lines Hill South Field, on the side of Lines Hill going west out of the village. To the middle-left you can see some remains of early settlement earthworks.