Ashbourne, Derbyshire

Coordinates: 53°00′58″N 1°43′52″W / 53.016°N 1.731°W / 53.016; -1.731
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St Oswald's Church, the parish church of Ashbourne and a grade I listed building.
Ashbourne is located in Derbyshire
Location within Derbyshire
Population8,377 (Parish, 2011)[1]
OS grid referenceSK1846
Civil parish
  • Ashbourne
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtDE6
Dialling code01335
AmbulanceEast Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
53°00′58″N 1°43′52″W / 53.016°N 1.731°W / 53.016; -1.731
Ashbourne Town Hall and town centre

Ashbourne is a market town in the Derbyshire Dales district in Derbyshire, England. Its population was measured at 8,377 in the 2011 census[2] and was estimated to have grown to 9,163 by 2019.[3] It has many historical buildings and independent shops. The town offers a historic annual Shrovetide football match. Its position near the southern edge of the Peak District makes it the closest town to Dovedale, to which Ashbourne is sometimes referred to as the gateway.

The town is 14 miles (23 km) west of Derby, 21 miles (34 km) south-east of Buxton, 22 miles (35 km) east of Stoke-on-Trent, 49 miles (79 km) south-south-east of Manchester, 35 miles (56 km) south-west of Sheffield and 27 miles (43 km) north of Lichfield. Nearby towns include Matlock, Uttoxeter, Leek, Cheadle and Bakewell.


The town's name derives from the Old English æsc-burna meaning "stream with ash trees".[4]

Ashbourne was granted a market charter in 1257.[5] In medieval times it was a frequent rest stop for pilgrims walking "St Non's Way" to the shrine of Saint Fremund at Dunstable in Bedfordshire.[6]

The forces of Charles Edward Stuart passed through Ashbourne during the Jacobite rising of 1745.[7]


Ashbourne Town Council has four wards – Belle Vue, Hilltop, Parkside and St Oswald's – represented by a total of 13 councillors. It meets at Ashbourne Town Hall in the Market Place.[8]


Ashbourne lies at 53°01′N 01°44′W / 53.017°N 1.733°W / 53.017; -1.733. Ashbourne Green and Sturston are hamlets close by. Henmore Brook, a tributary of the River Dove, flows through the middle of the town. It has an elevation of 400 feet (122 m).[9]


From 1910, Nestlé 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 as passenger services and the railway station had already been closed back in 1954. 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 place.

Water from a borehole on the site was first marketed as Ashbourne Water in 1975 and was sold mostly to the catering trade.[10] Nestlé retained the borehole after the factory shut, taking water by tanker to Buxton for bottling.[10] Declining sales (1.3 million bottles in 2005, compared to 90 million for Buxton water) meant it could not justify further investment and the brand was discontinued in 2006.[10]

Tourism is an important element of the local economy, due to the town's proximity to Dovedale and the Peak District. The Tourist Information Centre was closed in 2011[11] but, from January 2018, a visitor information centre was made available again in the town hall.[12]

Culture and community[edit]

Ashbourne Library

The cobbled market place 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 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.[13]

Ashbourne Shire Horse Society and Show[edit]

According to the Ashbourne Show website:[14]

"In 1881, four gentlemen founded a society aimed at improving the standard of Shire horses in the Ashbourne area. Originally known as the Ashbourne Cart Horse Society, later that year, it held its first a show on the Paddock, at Ashbourne. This was so successful, it was determined by public meeting to put it on a permanent basis. 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 VII, who was President in 1901. Shrovetide Football although much older, did not become royal till 1928. Although there have been ups and downs, 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."


Local news and television channels are BBC East Midlands and ITV Central. Television signals are received from the local relay transmitter.[15]

Ashbourne's local radio stations are BBC Radio Derby on 104.5 FM, Smooth East Midlands on 106.6 FM, Capital Midlands on 102.8 FM and Greatest Hits Radio Midlands on 96.7 FM (formerly Ashbourne Radio).[16]

The Ashbourne News Telegraph is the town’s weekly local newspaper.[17]


Grade II listed sign for the Green Man & Black's Head Royal Hotel

Ashbourne currently has eleven public houses and two social clubs. The most famous, the Green Man & Black's Head Royal Hotel, closed in 2011 and underwent a change of ownership in 2013, before reopening in 2018.[18] The rare gallows sign across St John's Street remains a meeting point in the town. In June 2020, the caricature of a black man's head atop the sign became the focus of racial debate.[19] It was removed after a petition had gathered more than 40,000 signatures, but it is being preserved locally.[20][21]



Ashbourne railway station once served the town on the Ashbourne to Buxton railway line; the line was closed to regular passenger traffic in 1954.

Today, the nearest railway stations are Uttoxeter, 12 miles away on the Crewe-Derby Line, and Derby, 13 miles away on the Midland Main Line.


Construction of the Ashbourne to Buxton line began in 1896.[22] Passenger services started to Buxton in August 1899, after the building of a joint railway station to serve the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) and North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) lines. It closed to regular passenger traffic in 1954; all services on the Ashbourne–Parsley Hay section 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 opened in 1852[23] and, in 1867, the LNWR gained running powers over the line. It also closed to passengers in 1954 and completely in the early 1960s.

The course of the Ashbourne to Buxton line up to Parsley Hay has since been converted to the Tissington Trail, a popular recreational walking and cycle path.


Bus services in the area are provided by High Peak Buses and TrentBarton. There is a half-hourly service between Derby and Uttoxeter that stops in Ashbourne; other routes connect the town with Matlock, Leek, Buxton, Nottingham, Wirksworth and Burton.


The Tissington Trail begins in the town. The path starts at Mappleton Lane on the northern outskirts of the town, accessed by a Victorian tunnel about 380 yards long from the site of the former railway station. It follows the course of the former railway through the village of Tissington and joins the High Peak Trail (the old Cromford and High Peak Railway) at Parsley Hay.

The Limestone Way passes 2–3 miles away, through Tissington, Thorpe, Marten Hill and above Mayfield to Rocester.[24][25][26] There are several routes for walkers from Ashbourne to Limestone Way.


The main secondary school is Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, founded in 1585. It moved to its current site on the Green Road in 1909 and took over Ashbourne County Secondary School in 1973.

Religious sites[edit]

The 215 ft (66 m) spire of St Oswald's Church overlooks the town. The church is Early English in style and was built around 1220. There are a few remnants of earlier Norman construction and the south aisle has part of a Saxon cross shaft.

The church of St John was built on Buxton Road in 1871 in a neo-Norman style. Ashbourne Churches Together (ACT) has a link with the Diocese of Patna in the ecumenical Church of North India.[27] Regular reciprocal visits take place. Members of ACT are currently sponsoring the education of children in a school in Bihar, one of the poorest states in India.


In the annual two-day Royal Shrovetide Football Match, one half of the town plays the other, using the town as the pitch, with 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 a few rules. Shrovetide football has been played for several centuries. It is a moving mass (the Hug) that continues through the roads of the town, across fields, and even along the bed of the local Henmore Brook. There were intermittent unsuccessful attempts to ban the game until the late 19th century.

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

Local contestant Dave Mellor was the 1978 BriSCA Formula 1 Stock Cars World Champion.[28]

Notable people[edit]

In birth order:

Catherine Booth's birthplace: 13 Sturston Road
Statue of Catherine Booth, London

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Neighbourhood Statistics". Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Ashbourne (Derbyshire, East Midlands, United Kingdom) – Population Statistics and Location in Maps and Charts". Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  3. ^ "City Population. Retrieved 6 January 2021". Archived from the original on 30 September 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Key to English Place-names". Archived from the original on 29 June 2021. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Ashbourne Town Guide – what to do and what to see in Ashbourne". Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  6. ^ Moat, Helen (2016). The Peak District. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 149. ISBN 978-1784770075.
  7. ^ "A general ACCOUNT of the Conduct and Proceedings of the REBELS during their Stay at DERBY". Derby Mercury. 29 November 1745. Archived from the original on 18 July 2021. Retrieved 26 December 2015 – via findmypast.
  8. ^ "Venues". Ashbourne Town Council. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  9. ^ OS Explorer map: 259: Derby (Map). Ordnance Survey.
  10. ^ a b c "Sales decline shuts Ashbourne Water". Ashbourne News Telegraph. 3 May 2006. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Ashbourne and Matlock tourist information centres set to close". BBC News. 12 December 2011. Archived from the original on 25 October 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Tourist Information Office". Ashbourne Town Council. Archived from the original on 29 January 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Ashbourne Fairtrade Town Initiative". Archived from the original on 3 March 2021. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  14. ^ "Aims of the Society". The Ashbourne Show. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  15. ^ "Freeview Light on the Ashbourne (Derbyshire, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  16. ^ "Bauer buys Imagine to extend Greatest Hits Radio". RadioToday. 17 June 2021. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  17. ^ "Ashbourne News Telegraph". Reach Solutions. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  18. ^ "A sneak peek inside Ashbourne's new Green Man pub". Derby Telegraph. 27 July 2018. Archived from the original on 10 October 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Black man's head pub sign to go in racism row in Ashbourne". BBC News. 8 June 2020. Archived from the original on 8 June 2020. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  20. ^ "Ashbourne black man's head pub sign removed amid racism row". BBC News. 9 June 2020. Archived from the original on 1 July 2020. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  21. ^ Bland, Archie (9 June 2020). "Derbyshire town's 'racist' bust that faced removal hidden by residents". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 9 June 2020. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Kingscott, Geoffrey (2007). Lost Railways of Derbyshire. Newbury Berkshire UK: Countryside Books. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-84674-042-8.
  24. ^ Derbyshire Dales District Council. The Limestone Way Walkers Guide. Matlock UK: Tourism Section DDDC. pp. 22–25.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Long Distance Walkers Association. "Limestone Way". Archived from the original on 24 March 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  27. ^ "The Patna Partnership". Ashbourne Churches Together. Archived from the original on 11 August 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  28. ^ "World Championship". F1 Stockcars. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  29. ^ David L. Wykes, "Cantrell, Henry, Church of England clergyman and religious controversialist" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  30. ^ Kathryn M. Burton, "Boothby, Hill (1708–1756)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 2 January 2017 Archived 18 July 2021 at the Wayback Machine.
  31. ^ Rebecca Mills, "Boothby, Sir Brooke, seventh baronet (1744–1824)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, May 2010 accessed 2 January 2017 Archived 18 July 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "Catherine Booth Biography". Archived from the original on 28 May 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2016.

External links[edit]