The Thames entering the village boundaries
Buildings and the river Thames along the main road through the village (High Road)
Ashton Keynes shown within Wiltshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Ashton Keynes is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England which borders with Gloucestershire, 5.5 miles (8.9 km) south of Cirencester 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north of Cricklade. According to the 2011 census the parish had a usual resident population of 1,400 (previously, the 2001 census counted a slightly higher population of 1,420). The village lies within the Cotswold Water Park and is the only settlement substantially on both sides of the River Thames, which has many channels here, centred 6.5 miles (10.5 km) from its source (Thames Head). In the late 1980s a large Romano-British settlement was excavated on the edge of the village, in advance of extensive gravel extraction.
Ashton Keynes is twinned with the French village of Grandchamps-des-Fontaines. There is a very active Twinning Association in the village, which organises regular exchange trips and other activities between the village communities.
The village has many clubs and societies, many centred on the village hall or holding links to the village church, Holy Cross Church. Sports clubs include the cricket, tennis, badminton and football clubs. Musical groups include two choirs, an orchestra and a jazz band. There is also a Women's Institute and a Golden Years Club. Annual summer fetes are held by the village primary school and the village church, as well as an annual Christmas fair.
Residents in the village have taken on two businesses (both on the High Road) as community businesses when they faced closure. The one remaining pub, the White Hart Inn, is collectively owned and run by several village residents who took on the licence in 2011. In 2012, the White Hart Inn was awarded 'Best Community Pub' for the South West region in the Great British Pub Awards. The local village shop has also been community owned and run since December 2011, located in a newly built annexe of the village hall.
Ashton Keynes has been a community down the ages and has seen Ancient British tribes, Roman invaders and subsequent periods of English history.
The village was known as Aesctun in 800 AD, appeared in the Domesday book within Cricklade hundred as Essitone in 1086, and changed its name 10 times in the next 800 years until its present name was recorded.
From Mediaeval times when this whole area was a Royal Forest, through the Civil War when Cirencester was held by Parliamentarians, through to modern times ordinary people have lived out their lives in Gosditch.
In 1851 in the 35 homes in Gosditch were living a tailor, saddler, tallow chandler, stonemason, many glove makers and a cobbler. The School was built in this street in 1870 and a Primitive Methodist chapel was opened in 1840, but became a baker's shop later.
The Horse and Jockey (now closed) was a "scrumpy house", selling cider made from the apples from the orchards in the village. The Inn was the social centre of the community where dominoes were laid and gossip exchanged, and the hard times debated.
Forming many channels through the village and gaining very small tributaries, the Thames at Ashton Keynes has frontage to a large minority of the village's properties, which are almost all clustered together across the central plain.
"Sweet Thames run softly, til I end my song" – this is perhaps here more appropriately a command than creating a romantic setting – Ashton Keynes has always suffered from periodic flooding, and the Thames that flows along beside High Road and crosses under Gosditch by the little bridge was prone to washing down to the School and beyond on its near banks.
Villagers expected to be flooded every winter although the water could be controlled and directed to some extent by opening and closing 'hatches' on the river. People talked of keeping their back door and front door open so the water flowed straight through, and of a foot of water standing indoors for weeks.
As late as 1924 there were 23 children absent from school in June when the houses in the Derry just south of the Horse and Jockey (public house) were marooned in their bedrooms after a night of storms.
Ditches all round the village helped to channel the water, but as these were also used as a place to tip household rubbish and many privies were emptied into them, particular after the demise of the night soil industry there was regularly a serious public health problem from rats and water contamination in Gosditch.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ashton Keynes.|
- Grid square map Ordnance survey website
- Edmund Spenser op.LIII (53) Prothalamion, 1596, the concluding line of Spenser's stanzas repeated 10 times
:(a much-lauded and widely distributed Elizabethan nuptial poem)