Ashwell, Hertfordshire

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St. Mary - the parish church of Ashwell - - 1246802.jpg
Parish church of Ashwell
Ashwell is located in Hertfordshire
 Ashwell shown within Hertfordshire
Population 1,667 
OS grid reference TL265398
District North Hertfordshire
Shire county Hertfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BALDOCK
Postcode district SG7
Dialling code 01462
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament North East Hertfordshire
List of places

Coordinates: 52°02′32″N 0°09′25″W / 52.04217°N 0.15699°W / 52.04217; -0.15699

Ashwell is a village and civil parish situated about four miles north of Baldock in Hertfordshire.

It has a wealth of architecture spanning several centuries. The parish church dates almost entirely from the 14th century and is renowned for its ornate church tower which stands at 176 feet (54 m), and is crowned by an octagonal lantern with a leaded 'spike'. The church also contains some medieval graffiti carved on its walls which highlights the plight of survivors of the bubonic plague pandemic known as the Black Death. There was also a great fire of Ashwell, fortunately resulting in no fatalities.

The village itself is mostly in a fine state of preservation, from the medieval cottage to the fine town house, plastered or timbered, thatched or tiled, in Tudor, Carolean or Georgian brick. 'Scheduled' listed buildings include the St. John's Guildhall of 1681, and the carefully restored Foresters Cottages, Chantry House with its 15th-century window, the 16th-century town house (now a local museum), the Maltings (now converted into flats), and a small brick house which was first built in 1681 as a school by the Merchant Taylors. Ashwell Bury, a large Victorian house, was remodelled by Edwin Lutyens in the 1920s. Ashwell also has a village lock-up that was used to detain drunks and suspected criminals. The village used to be home to a number of local breweries and, accordingly, a variety of public houses in its past, but currently has just three pubs: The Rose and Crown, the Three Tuns and the Bushel and Strike.

Ashwell also has several successful sports teams from under-12s to veterans. The adult first football team have won several trophies and are currently in the Hall's of Cambridge Sunday league premier division. The cricket team won the Cambridgeshire Junior Cup in 2003 and currently play in Division 1 of the Cambridgeshire league. There are many other clubs and societies catering for all interests.

Ashwell Springs, a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, is a perennial source of the River Cam. The cool water of the chalk springs contain a rare species of stenothermic flatworm (Platyhelminthes; Tricladida) associated with cold surface waters or subterranean groundwater that is only known from this location within East Anglia. The springs now depend upon artificial flow augmentation during drier periods, due to the impact of local groundwater abstraction from the chalk aquifer for public water supply.

Located to the southwest of the village is Arbury Banks, the remains of an Iron Age hill fort which have been largely removed by agricultural activity.

The village is served by Ashwell and Morden railway station which is about a mile and half from the centre of the village in the hamlet of Odsey in Cambridgeshire.

The village is a "green oasis" with many trees and this contrasts with the surrounding landscape dominated by intense agricultural production, principally of wheat, with rather limited aesthetic or biodiversity interest.

In 2013, the village church became the centre of a nationally-reported row over the quarter hourly chiming of the clock. Complaints about the chimes during the night were initially received in the summer of that year, which North Herts District Council (NHDC) was legally obliged to investigate. In December, the council ruled that the chimes are "prejudicial to health" and have to be silenced between 11pm and 6am. Complying with the ruling has meant turning off the chimes altogether, although the parish council has asked the archdiocese in St Albans if it can install a timing mechanism that will restrict the chimes to the legally appointed hours, and has launched an appeal to raise the £1,900 cost. The chiming clock was initially installed in 1898, but was turned off for 18 months in 2011 and 2012 while repairs were carried out. A public meeting on 19 January 2014 will discuss the future of the chimes.[1][2][3][4][5]

Notable residents[edit]



  1. ^ (23 December 2013) Complaints silence church bells for first time in 117 years
  2. ^ (19 August 2013) Ashwell villagers row over 'silencing' church bells BBC News - Beds, Bucks & Herts
  3. ^ (23 December 2013) Ashwell silences 'sleep disturbing' St Mary's church chimes BBC News - Beds, Bucks & Herts
  4. ^ After 300 years, village 'newcomers' silence church clock chimes
  5. ^ Ross-Millar, Lucy (12 December 2013) Church bells at risk from pleas for silent night

External links[edit]