Several notable individuals were born in or lived in Aston Abbotts. Of these, perhaps the most famous is James Clark Ross, Arctic explorer and discoverer of the magnetic north pole.Ross was born in Scotland in 1800. Schooled at Chislehurst Academy in Kent, Ross left in 1812 to join his uncle's ship, the Briseis. By May 1831, after several expeditions to the Arctic he had located the north magnetic pole and reached the rank of commander.In October 1839 Ross set of on a long and historic voyage of discovery. Although the four years and five months expedition failed in its prime aim - to reach the magnetic south pole - many discoveries were made, including the Ross Sea and the Ross Ice Shelf.Within six weeks of returning to England Ross married his sweetheart Anne Coulman. Two years later in 1845 they moved to Aston Abbotts where they lived in contentment, happiness and harmony until Anne's death of pleural pneumonia in 1857 at the age of 40.Ross was distraught. Despite attempts to shake off the despondency he became reclusive and died in April 1862. He was buried in the churchyard of St James The Great, Aston Abbotts alongside his beloved wife Anne.These days the tomb of James Clark Ross and Anne can still be seen in the churchyard. St James’ east window bears the inscription "To the glory of God and in memory of rear Admiral Sir James Clark Ross and of Anne his wife. In the grounds of The Abbey there is a lake (known as The Moat). In this lake are two islands, named Erebus and Terror, the names of the two ships on Ross' 1839 Antarctic expedition.
The tomb of Sir James Clark Ross is pictured right. If you are visiting Aston Abbotts and wish to see the tomb then enter the churchyard via the gate, walk up the path, pass to the left of the church and you will find the tomb about 10 metres directly behind the building.