Ashbourne, Derbyshire

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Town Hall - Ashbourne.jpg
Ashbourne Town Hall
Derbyshire UK parish map highlighting Ashbourne.svg
Ashbourne parish highlighted within Derbyshire
Population 7,112 (Parish, 2011)[1]
OS grid reference SK1846
Civil parish Ashbourne
District Derbyshire Dales
Shire county Derbyshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district DE6
Dialling code 01335
Police Derbyshire
Fire Derbyshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Derbyshire Dales
List of places

Ashbourne is a market town in the Derbyshire Dales, England. It has a population of 7,112. It contains many historical buildings and many independent shops, and is famous for its historic annual Shrovetide football match.

Due to its proximity to the southern edge of the Peak District and being the closest town to the popular area of Dovedale, the town is known as both 'The Gateway to Dovedale' and the 'Gateway to the Peak District'. The Henmore Brook, a tributary of the River Dove, flows through the middle of the town.

Local customs[edit]

Shrovetide football[edit]

Ashbourne is known for its annual two-day Royal Shrovetide Football Match, in which one half of the town plays the other at football, using the town as the pitch and with the goals three miles apart. As many as several thousand players compete for two days with a hand-painted, cork-filled ball. The game is played by two teams, the Up'ards and the Down'ards, over two eight-hour periods, subject to only a few rules. Shrovetide football has been played for centuries, perhaps even over 1,000 years. It is a moving mass (the Hug) which continues through the roads of the town, across fields, and even along the bed of the local River Henmore. There were intermittent attempts to ban the game until the late 19th century, but none was successful.

Ashbourne Shire Horse Society and Ashbourne Show[edit]

According to the Ashbourne Show website:[2]

"In 1881, four gentlemen founded a Society, with the aim of improving the standard of Shire Horses in the Ashbourne area. Originally known as the Ashbourne Cart Horse Society, later that year, they held their first a Show on the Paddock, at Ashbourne. This was so successful, it was determined by public meeting to put the show on a permanent basis and apart from a few years lost to War and Foot and Mouth, an annual Show has been held ever since. In 1888, the title Ashbourne Shire Horse Society was adopted and Royal Patronage was granted in 1899 by King Edward 7th, who was President in 1901. Shrovetide Football although much older, did not become Royal till 1928! Although there have been ups and downs over the years, the ambition of the founders has been fully justified. It has grown, changed and evolved, with Cattle introduced in 1925 and Sheep in 1957. Other sections have also been added, so that it has become the modern Ashbourne Show, now presented by the Ashbourne Shire Horse Society. However, what has not changed is the aim and ambition to produce a Show for the encouragement of excellence in agriculture and animal husbandry and for the information education and entertainment of the local community and the visitors to the area each August."


Former Nestle creamery circa 2006, before demolition

From 1910, Nestle had a creamery in the town, which for a period was contracted to produce Carnation condensed milk. The factory had its own private sidings connected to the railway station goods yard, which allowed milk trains to access the facility, and distribute product as far south as London. After milk trains ceased in 1965, the railway track was lifted and the station fully closed. The factory closed in 2003, and since demolition in 2006, has been redeveloped as housing and a light industrial estate, although the old loading ramp from street level up to the factory floor is still in situ.

Ashbourne has a large number of public houses for such a small town centre: there are currently 10 pubs trading, as well as 2 social clubs. However, the town's most famous establishment, the Green Man & Black's Head Royal Hotel, closed in 2012 and underwent a change of ownership in 2013. Part of it is being redeveloped into retail units and a bistro, and some of the hotel bedrooms are being restored but, as of February 2014, plans are also afoot to restore a pub function to the complex. The famous and rare 'gallows' sign across St John's Street does, however, remains a focal meeting point in the town. Local historians have noted that almost 1 in 4 buildings in the town have at one time or another been an alehouse, pub or inn or were redeveloped on the site of such an establishment.


The Tissington Trail, a popular recreational walk and cycle path, starts at Mappleton Lane on the northern outskirts of town, accessed by a large Victorian tunnel about 380 yards long running from the former station site in the town, and follows the course of the former Ashbourne to Buxton railway, running from what was Ashbourne railway station through the village of Tissington and joining the High Peak Trail (the old Cromford and High Peak Railway) at Parsley Hay.

Construction of the Ashbourne to Buxton line commenced in 1896[3] and passenger services started to Buxton in August 1899 following the building of a joint station to serve both LNWR and NSR lines. The line closed to regular passenger traffic in 1954, and all services on the Ashbourne–Parsley Hay section, including excursion traffic, ceased in 1963. The line continued down the Dove to Rocester near Uttoxeter where it joined the main North Staffordshire Railway. This southern link had previously opened in 1852[4] and in 1867 LNWR gained power to run over the line. It also closed to passengers in 1954, finishing completely in the early 1960s.

In Medieval times Ashbourne was a frequent rest stop for pilgrims walking 'St Non's way' to the shrine at Dunstable.

The Limestone Way does not enter the town but passes around it some 2 to 3 miles away, going through Tissington, Thorpe, Marten Hill and above Mayfield on its way to Rocester.[5][6][7] Although there is no formal link to the Limestone Way from Ashbourne, there are a number of routes that walkers from the town could use to join up with the Way.

Ashbourne Churches Together (ACT) has a link with the Diocese of Patna in the ecumenical Church of North India.[8] Regular visits take place in both directions and members of ACT are currently sponsoring the education of children in a school in Bihar, one of the poorest states in India.

Ashbourne Market Place

Ashbourne is also a market town, as granted by Market Charter in 1257.[9] The cobbled marketplace hosts a traditional outdoor market every Thursday and Saturday throughout the year, complementing the wide range of individual shops in the town. Although its market heritage is important, it came under threat of closure from Derbyshire County Council in November 2012. The people of Ashbourne have opposed any such moves by the council and started an online petition. Ashbourne became the 97th Fairtrade Town in March 2005 after many businesses, cafes, shops and community organisations started supporting Fairtrade.[10]

Notable people[edit]

Before the 1966 Football World Cup, the West Germany squad stayed at the nearby Peveril of the Peak hotel and trained on one of Ashbourne's town football pitches (near the park).



  1. ^ "Neighbourhood Statistics". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Aims of the Society". The Ashbourne Show. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Bentley & Fox, J.M. & G.K. (1997). Railways of the High Peak Buxton to Ashbourne. Stockport UK: Foxline Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 1-870119-45-2. 
  4. ^ Kingscott, Geoffrey (2007). Lost Railways of Derbyshire. Newbury Berkshire UK: Countryside Books. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-84674-042-8. 
  5. ^ Derbyshire Dales District Council. The Limestone Way Walkers Guide. Matlock UK: Tourism Section DDDC. p. 22 -25. 
  6. ^ Ordnance Survey (2009). Explorer OL24. Southampton UK: Ordnance Survey. ISBN 978-0-319-24111-0.  and Ordnance Survey (2008). Explorer 259. ISBN 978-0-319-23725-0. 
  7. ^ Long Distance Walkers Association. "Limestone Way". Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Patna Partnership". Ashbourne Churches Together. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Ashbourne Granted Market Charter
  10. ^ Ashbourne Fairtrade Town Initiative
  11. ^ "Catherine Booth Biography". Archived from the original on 28 May 2007. Retrieved June 2007. 
  12. ^ Cantrell, Henry, Church of England clergyman and religious controversialist by David L. Wykes in Dictionary of National Biography (OUP, 2004)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°00′54″N 1°43′26″W / 53.015°N 1.724°W / 53.015; -1.724