Ashbourne in old picture postcards
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Ashbourne lies 13 miles north-west of Derby, 146 miles from London by rail and 139 miles by road, and 47 miles from Manchester. Geographically it is the edge of the hedgerow country to the South and the limestone wall country to the North. Standing on the Derby Road you can see the merging of the two as you gaze across the town.
In 1891 the population of the township of Ashbourne comprised of 59Vz acres and was wholly occupied by the town. The parish of Ashbourne then comprised of Ashbourne town and the townships of Newton Grange and Offcote and Underwood in the Hundred of Wirksworth, and Sturston and Yeldersley in Appletree Hundred. It was forrnerly more extensive and included Alsop-en-le-Dale and Eaton, Hulland and Hulland Wind, also Compton and Clifton.
The powerful families through history have been Cockayne, Bradburne, Fitzherbert, Kniveton, De Ferrers, Boothby, Curzon, Vernon, Blount, Hartington, Montgomery, Lathbury and Alsop. Many of their coats of arms can be found in the Parish Church in the 15th century glass and on tombs.
The town itself has been the centre of a farming community for many centuries and therefore understandable that it be chosen for the site of a condensed milk factory. Other industries of long standing being clock making, stayworks, cotton mills, brass founders, fishing tackle manufacture and !ace embroidery.
As you travel along the different roads that pass through Ashbourne you are suddenly aware of a town nestling quietly in the valley. The view from the crest of the hill seems to be overpowered by the Church of St. Oswald with its magnificent spire, the town lying to the east of the building. The
earliest mention of Ashbourne is in the Domesday Book when it was called Esseburne (the brook of the ashtree). It is recorded as having three caracutes of rateable land paying 20 shillings with a church and a priest.
The manor belonged to the King and was probably in Royal possession in Saxon times. King John granted it to William de Ferrers in the first year of his reign, whom he created Earl of Derby. The manor with the honour of Tutbury was given by the King to his son Edmund 'Crouchback' Earl of Lancaster. Henry a subsequent Earl was created Duke of Lancaster, and on his death his manors in Lancashire and Derbyshire were assigned to Blanche co-heiress and his second daughter, the wife of John of Gaunt,
Civilisation, however, was here long before Domesday for items have been found around the church dating from the iron age. It is also built on a Druid site. Then, as now, the travellers arriving at the foothills would rest at the side of the church, and the villagers seeing the chance of bartering food, set up a 'shambles'. Later they built wooden huts and the market town began. A Market Charter is mentioned as early as 1257 and Chartered Fairs were held on 13th February, 21st May, 16th August, 20th October and 29th November. Horse markets were held in February, August and October. Cheese fairs were held in March, September and November. Fairs all had different names such as St. Oswald's Fair, Statutes (for hiring) Fair, New Market, Gayboys or Gawbies Market and Nine Night Fair. Nowadays the cattle market is held on Thursday and general markets on Thursday and Saturday.
The town consists of one main street with others branching
off at right angles. The buildings are mainly of red brick, but here and there we find stone buildings with mullion windows and projecting gables. Behind some of the brick façades are wattIe and daub buildings which are still being discovered, even today. Church Street was cited by Nicholas Pevsner as being one of the finest mid-Georgian streets in the Midlands. William Rufus granted a church to Robert of Lincoln in 1093. Bonnie Prince Charlie and his men passed through on his way south, reaching Swarkestone Bridge on the other side of Derby, he realised he could get na further and returned to Ashbourne the next day. Staying overnight in the town before returning to Scotland. Charles I worshipped here after the battle of Naseby, and Oliver Cromwell who it is said fired on the town, but after a delegation of townsfolk went out to hirn, he continued on his journey. Edward 1 called an Inquisition in 1288 to farm the Barmoot (the Laws of Leadmining). Doctor Samuel Johnson loved Ashbourne and stayed here many times. George Frederick Handel stayed with friends, the Grenvielles at Calwich Abbey, 2 miles south of Ashbourne. During the Napoleonic Wars high ranking French officers taken prisoner were sent to Ashbourne. John Ray the Cambridge scientist passed through, recording some of the plants growing here. John Wesley preached in the town as did Elizabeth Fry. As can be seen Ashbourne has had its place in the history of England.
The industrial side of the town consists mainly of small engineering works. Nest1é have a plant here largely to rnanufacture milk products. Several manufactories of foundation and leisurewear together with stone quarries just outside the town pro vide the main employment. Now one of the major
industries for the area is 'tourist trade' , with visitors coming from all over the world.
On Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday the town trave1s back in time to play the oldest game of football in the world. The game is believed to be 3,000 years old, going back to the days when the Celts inhabited Britain. Families still guard jealously the right to be called Up'ards and Down'ards according to which part of the town they come from.
Mrs. W. Roberts: pictures 3, 48
Sadler Family: pictures 8,11,16,17,19,20,36,39,42,46, 47,48,51,52,55,62,70,73
Mr. & Mrs. P. TomIinson: pictures 28, 29,40 Richard Cao per & Co.: pictures 30, 31, 32 Mrs. M. Winstone: pictures 18, 53, 54, 59, 64 Haycock Clockmakers: picture 72
Mr. & Mrs. D. Moss: picture 56
Mr. G. Hudson p.p. Fosters Fishing Tackle: picture 58 Mrs. J. Westley p.p. Nestlé Company: pictures 60, 61 Messrs. C. & I. Howard: pictures 68, 69,71
Mrs. Spencer: picture 63
The Howell family
Special Appreciations to:
Canon D.H. Buckley, Mrs. J. Johnston, Mrs. C. Frost - Ashbourne News Telegraph, Avian Press and my wife.
1. The south view of Ashbourne Church is one of the finest views of church architecture to be seen. From right to left we see the long lancet windows (1241) of the chance!. The two large windows of the south transept, centre of the picture, give you the decorated style 1280. The perpendicular style on the right is dated circa 1395. The south aisle on the left shows a later decorated style of 1320. Above the south aisle can be seen the Tudor style clerestory of 1520. The tower in the centre dates from 1280, the spire was completed circa 1350. It was here during the years 1325-1328 that Henry de Yeveley worked (learning his trade under his father). He left Ashbourne to become in due course King's Mason to Richard Il. He designed Canterbury nave, Westminster Abbey nave, Westminster hall and many other famous buildings of the 14th century. He died aged 80 in 1400.
2. The Mansion was built by the Taylors in 1685, and it was to pass to Doctor John Taylor, Rector of Bosworth and Presbyter of St. Margaret's Westminster, in 1740. The Mansion became his main residence where he spent his time breeding cattle, deer, horses and bulldogs, His powerful position in the town was to earn him the title 'King of Ashbourne'. To this house a great literary friend of his Oxford days, Doctor Samuel Johnson, came visiting. Johnson's obvious love for the house is recorded in latin over the front door: 'Let this house stand till a tortoise has walked around the earth and the ants have drunk the ocean waves.' A visit described by BosweIl thus: 'There came for us an equipage properly suited for a wealthy beneficial clergyman. Dr. Taylor's large post-chaise was drawn by four stout horses and driven by two jolly postillions.' DL Taylor enlarged the Mansion and engaged Robert Adams for the job, and this is the house we see today.
3. On 13th October 1839 a group of business men met with MT. Wise as chairman, in a room at the Wheatsheaf Hotel (Westminster Bank) with a view to forming a Gas Company. The fust thing was to find a suitable site. Land off Dove House Green belonging to Sir William Boothby was the first choice, but eventually land on the south side of the church on Mayfield Raad was chosen. Samuel Sanders of Burton-on-Trent erected the gasometer and buildings. Mr. Robinson was appointed manager and a house was built for rum. In the picture stands Joe Thacker (centre) and some of the workmen against the 'scrubber', which was used to take the tar and liquid away from the gas befare going through the purifier. There were two main by-products, gas tar, which was taken away to be used on raad surfaces, whilst the liquid was sent away to Boots the chemist for use in medicinal products. It was a regular sight to see children, sent by their doctors to inha1e the fumes after they had suffered whooping cough.
4. One of the hardest jobs was stoking the ovens in a gas works retort house. The stokers stripped to the waist, would every two hours draw the red hot coke from the oven and then replenish the furnace with coa1 for the manufacture of gas. 1t was a familiar sight to see people standing by the window, not for warmth, but to hear the beautiful singing voice of Joe Thacker. He would sing hyrnns and on Sunday he donned the robes of St. Oswald's Church choir. Here he is seen sitting front row extreme right. The church has a history of good musie and 50 years service to the choir is not uncommon. Standing on the second row fourth from left in check suit is Mr. G.F.H. Kemp, organist, (known as Buster to choirboys). His christian names being George Frederick Handel perhaps had a bearing on his chosen following. Centre back stands Henry Haycock verger from 1904 to 1951, taking over from his father 1873-1904. On the death of Henry the vergership was taken on by 'Bill' Haycock - still verger in 1984.
f ß'rd's E e Jiew of fshbourne.
5. The 'New' Derby Road was constructed by a turnpike trust in 1783-1785 as a form of ear1y road safety, by making a more gradual descent into the town than the hazardous 'G1d' Derby Road or Spital Lane as it was called. It got its name because it once led to the mediaeval 'Hospitalof the Knights of St. John of Yeveley', The story goes that the French prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars were allowed to exercise from the bottom of the hill along the length of the white fencing to the junction of 'Old' Derby Raad at the top. The raad suffered much from subsidence and this was only stopped by the use of large rocks held together with tar.
6. Looking across the town you can see Thorpe Cloud the base of the Pennines. To the right you can see the imposing building of St. John's Church, built by Francis Wright in 1870 as a free Anglican Church because of the continuing conflict with the Vicar of St. Oswald's, Reverend John Errington. He also provided the cattle market to take the animals out of the Market Place. Francis Wright was one of the most influential figures of Victorian Ashbourne. As Chairman of the Bench he used his position to close down many public rights. His purehase of the Lordship of the manor and the market rights he used to stop the pleasure fair and the statutes fair. One of the things he did fail to do was to stop the Shrove-tide football in 1860.
7. The title 'Royal Shrovetide Football' dates from the year 1928, when on Shrove Tuesday the game was started by H.R.H. Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII. The Prince accepted the invitation to 'turn the ball up' and so at the bottom of the Market Place next to the Wine Vaults an entry was made and a wooden bridge erected over the Henmore. It was from this bridge he threw the ball, throwing it high into the air. The picture shows the Prince on Shaw Croft with the 9th Duke of Devonshire and his son Lord Hartington. After this the game became 'Royal Shrovetide Football' and the alleyway known as Prince's Gate.
8. The Grammar School building dates back to the Charter of 'the Free Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth, Queen of England at Ashbourne in the County of Derby signed 15th July in the 27th year of the Queen's reign 1585. The first gavernors being Thomas Cokaine Gentleman, John Allsopp Gentleman, and Robert Hurt Vicar of the Parish Church of Ashbourne'. Although it has always been the popular belief that this was the first school in the town, there is a streng reason to believe that there was one here at least two hundred years before, for the building is on the site of St. Mary's Chantry granted by Henry de Knyveton, Rector of the Church of Norbury 1391. It has also been found that John Bradbourne founded the Chantry of St. Oswald 1483. Just along Church Street we can still find Chantry House and the Mansion across from the school occupies the site of the Holy Cross Chantry Priest's House. All this points to a chantry school being set up to teach the musie for the singing of Mass, and A.F. Leach in his book 'English Schools at the Reformation' gives astrong indication of Ashbourne having such a school. Four hundred years later, on 15th March 1985 the link was maintained by the visit of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II to the school.