Until 2003 Aston Abbotts was proud to boast two public houses. The Bull and Butcher was located centrally within the village and for much of the 20th century it also served as the village bakery. This pub closed in March 2003, following the granting of planning permission to convert the site for residential purposes. Fortunately for the residents of Aston Abbotts, some of whom are a thirsty bunch, the Royal Oak is still flourishing on the Wingrave Road, which goes south out of the village. This thatched pub dates back to the 17th century, although it is believed that it was originally built to house workers and converted to a pub later. Aston Abbotts lost it’s last remaining shop in 2005 when its proprietor Bernard Osborn retired. Osborn's shop had been located at one end of a thatched cottage and until closure it provided a valuable service to older residents who found it less easy to travel to Aylesbury or the other villages to pick up essential supplies. Bernard Osborn was born in Aston Abbotts before the Second World War and you can read an interview with him here, where he discusses his village life and running the shop.
Local industry has also diversified over the years - perhaps in some surprising directions. Just on the northern edge of the village on the road to Cublington lays a small industrial estate, home to a number of businesses. Farm buildings on the Wingrave Road leading him from south now house an antique furniture and furniture restoration business. Flackwell Electronics TV and electronics repair business is located at Church Farm. But perhaps the most unusual industry is the alpaca farming business run by Livanti Alpacas. (If you don't know what alpacas are then you should check out their website.)
But still the farming roots are strong. Much of the surrounding land is farmland and a few of the older farming families remain. Although some of the land is arable there is a great deal of pasture land. Much of this is used for sheep, although horses and cattle are also present in significant numbers.
Aston Abbotts residents face a number of threats to their peaceful happy existence. Of these probably the most significant is the threat of over development. Some controlled development is not only inevitable but arguably desirable if the village is to grow and move forward as times change. However, house prices in Buckinghamshire have soared to astronomical levels in the last two decades and this, coupled with the relatively low value of land for farming and a general shortage of housing, creates financial pressure for development. Although the Aylesbury Vale local council plan does not allow for large development in the village, recent years have seen the granting of several planning applications. In the year from April 2003 to April 2004 residential developments at the site of the former Bull and Butcher public house and on land to the rear of Home Farm saw a further 14 dwellings created, representing a housing growth of over eight per cent in a 12 month period. A second potential threat is posed by the plans to develop the A418 trunk road between Aylesbury and Leighton Buzzard. This might possibly see a larger and busier bypass road passing just south of, but possible closer to, the village. At present the routes under consideration are a closely-guarded secret and is not possible to judge just how much this might affect Aston Abbotts. Luton Airport (some 15 miles away) started to route approaching
aircraft over the Bucks villages around 2005. This increased the air traffic overhead on days when the wind is in an Easterly direction. At present the flightpath is used just for aircraft starting their final descent and they pass overhead at 3000-5000 feet (1000 - 1500 metres). Although the last century has shown that change and development is not only inevitable but sometimes brings good things, many villagers are concerned that the pace and scale of change should not destroy their way of life. The Parish Council started working on a a new Village Plan in 2011 and in July of that year they circulated a questionnaire in the village to enable them to create the document. The plan was published in 2014.Click here to view the Aston Abbotts Village Plan(Adobe Acrobat file - opens in a new window)
Bernard Osborn (centre - in the shop doorway) on April 2nd 2005 - the day that he finally closed the shop doors