Coordinates: 52°44′46″N 1°28′34″W / 52.746°N 1.476°W / 52.746; -1.476
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ashby de la Zouch
Market Street
Ashby de la Zouch is located in Leicestershire
Ashby de la Zouch
Ashby de la Zouch
Location within Leicestershire
Population16,491 (2021 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceSK3516
Civil parish
  • Ashby de la Zouch
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townAshby-de-la-Zouch
Postcode districtLE65
Dialling code01530
AmbulanceEast Midlands
UK Parliament
WebsiteAshby de la Zouch Town Council
List of places
52°44′46″N 1°28′34″W / 52.746°N 1.476°W / 52.746; -1.476

Ashby-de-la-Zouch (/ˈæʃbi də lə ˈzʃ/),[2] also spelled Ashby de la Zouch,[a] is a market town and civil parish in the North West Leicestershire district of Leicestershire, England, near to the Derbyshire and Staffordshire borders. Its population at the 2021 census was 16,491.[3] Ashby de la Zouch Castle was an important fort in the 15th to 17th centuries. During the 19th century, the town's main industries were ribbon manufacturing, coal mining, and brickmaking.

The civil parish includes the hamlets of Shellbrook to the west and Boundary to the north-west. Swadlincote, Burton upon Trent, Melbourne and Coalville are within 10 miles (16 km), with Derby 12 miles (19 km) due north. It lies at the heart of the National Forest, 24 miles (39 km) south of the Peak District National Park, on the A42 between Tamworth and Nottingham.


Ashby de la Zouch Castle

The town was known as Ashby in 1086.[4] This is a word of Anglo-Danish origin, meaning "Ash-tree farm" or "Ash-tree settlement".[5] The Norman French name extension dates from the years after the Norman conquest of England, when Ashby became a possession of the La Zouche family during the reign of Henry III.[6]

Ashby de la Zouch Castle was built in the 12th century.[7] The town and castle came into the possession of the Hastings family in 1464 and William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings enhanced its fortifications from 1473.[7] In the English Civil War, the town was one of the Cavaliers' chief garrisons under the control of Colonel Henry Hastings, 1st Baron Loughborough and commander of the North Midlands Army. When the town fell after a long siege in March 1646, it was counted a great relief to the surrounding towns and villages.[8]

Many of the buildings in Market Street, the town's main thoroughfare, are timber framed. Most of this structure is hidden by later brick facades. The Bull's Head public house retains its original Elizabethan half-timbering, although most of this was plastered over some years ago and can no longer be seen from the street.[9] A short distance further down Market Street is a shop, currently occupied as a LOROS Charity Shop, which retains its original Elizabethan timbers in full street view.[10] Regency buildings are also standing in this street. Bath Street has a row of Classical-style houses called Rawdon Terrace, dating from the time of the 1820s, when the town was a spa destination.

Notable buildings[edit]


Holy Trinity parish church
Methodist church
Congregational church
Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic church

St Helen's Church is Ashby's original Anglican parish church. It is a late 15th-century Perpendicular Gothic building. The outer aisles were designed by J. P. St. Aubyn and added in 1878.[11] St. Helen's contains notable memorials to various members of the Hastings family and other notables.[7] It also holds a rare 300-year-old finger pillory.[12]

Holy Trinity Church is a Gothic Revival building designed by H. I. Stevens in the Early English Gothic style and built in 1838–40.[7] It has galleries supported by iron columns.[7] The chancel was added in 1866 and the ironwork chancel screen in 1891.[7]

The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Lourdes was designed by F. A. Walters and built in 1908–15[7] at the expense of the 15th Duke of Norfolk. It is neo-Norman, with three apses and a tower at the southeast corner.[7]

The Congregational Church was built in 1825 in a neoclassical style with Tuscan columns.[13] There is also a Christadelphian meeting hall in the town.[14]

Ivanhoe Baths[edit]

The water tower at Ashby de la Zouch cemetery, prior to its conversion into a dwelling

The Ivanhoe Baths was an 1822 Neo-Grecian building with a Doric façade 200 feet (61 m) long.[13] Unused, it was derelict by 1960,[13] and was demolished in 1962.[15][16] Mineworkers discovered a copious saline spring when working coal at Moira Colliery, 3 miles (5 km) west of the town, in 1805. Here developers built the Moira Baths, with a large hotel nearby for travellers. After a few years, however, it was decided to convey the water to Ashby, where the Ivanhoe Baths were built. The Royal Hotel, originally called the Hastings Hotel, was built in 1826 to accommodate visitors to the growing spa.[13] It has a Doric porte-cochère and additional Doric columns in its hall inside.[13] The hotel closed in February 2018.[17]

Water tower[edit]

The Grade II-listed, 19th-century water tower, located in the town's cemetery on Moira Road, has been converted into a dwelling. The conversion was controversial since it involved a number of modern additions to the building.[18]

Loudoun Monument[edit]

In 1879, Baron Donington, the widowed husband of Edith Rawdon-Hastings, 10th Countess of Loudoun, had the Loudoun monument erected to her memory in Ashby. The octagonal monument by Sir George Gilbert Scott is based on the Eleanor crosses and is a Listed building.[19] It is located at the junction of Bath and South Streets, opposite the Roman Catholic church.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Town Hall[edit]

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Town Hall

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Town Hall, which was built at the same time as the market hall to its rear, dates to 1857.[20]


The town has two secondary schools:

  • Ashby School, previously Ashby Grammar School, is for 11–18-year-olds. It was founded in 1567. The town formerly had two other endowed boys' schools founded in the 18th century.
  • Ivanhoe School, previously Ivanhoe College, is for 11 to 16-year-olds. It was founded in 1954. It is named after the historical novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, which he set in the area of the castle. In Scott's novel the town hosts an important archery competition held by Prince John, in which Robin Hood competes and wins.

Manor House School was an independent day school in the centre of Ashby for boys and girls aged four to 16. The school was located between St Helen's Church and the ruins of Ashby's historic castle. Pupils travelled to the school from a wide area. The school entered into administration on 13 December 2018.


In the 19th century, Ashby's main industry was leather working. There was also a cotton textile factory and a glue factory. Ashby was surrounded by coalmines but was never a coalmining town itself. By far the largest employer in the town today is United Biscuits, providing about 2,000 jobs at its distribution centre, which stores its products and transports them nationwide, and its KP Snacks factory in Smisby Road. The firm formerly had a larger presence in Ashby. McVitie's biscuit factory on Smisby Road closed in 2004 with the loss of 900 jobs.[21]

Other employers in Ashby include Tesco, Ashfield Commercial & Medical Services, Timeline Communications, Eduteq Limited and TAC UK Ltd, a firm of energy consultants. Standard Soap Ltd, a significant industrial employer within Ashby-de-la-Zouch since 1928, closed in early 2012, resulting in the loss of 155 jobs.[22] The town has a concentration of high-tech employers. The video game software house Ultimate Play the Game was based in Ashby. Now called Rare, it has moved to Manor Park near Twycross.


Ashby United Community Football Club is a community club for juniors and seniors of all ages. They play across multiple divisions across all of their Junior and Senior teams and are seen as leading the way in community inclusion when it comes to football and sports in the town.[23]

Willesley Park Golf Course is set in rolling countryside, partly in parkland and partly on heathland, covering 230 acres of gentle undulating countryside. The course was opened for play in April 1921. The first hole is played along an avenue of lime trees which once flanked the old coach road from the old Norman castle in the town to the now demolished Willesley Hall.

Ashby Hastings Cricket Club[24] was founded before 1831. Its ground, the Bath Grounds in the centre of Ashby, hosts Leicestershire CCC 2nd XI matches each year. The club runs three Saturday League sides, all of which play in the Everard's Leicestershire County Cricket League. The 1st XI play in the Premier Division, the highest level of club cricket available in Leicestershire, the 2nd XI play in Division 4 and the 3rd XI play in Division 8. The club also run a Midweek XI who play in the Premier Division of the Loughborough Cricket Association League and a Sunday XI who play friendly cricket. The club's Junior Section includes sides at Under 15, Under 13, Under 11 and Under 10 age groups.[25] A second club, Ashby Town Cricket Club[26] was formed in 1945.

Ashby RFC has its grounds in Nottingham Road. It plays in the League Midland 3 East (North). It also has mini and junior sections for girls and boys from age four, as well as seniors and seconds side and an O2 Touch team for players of all ages and both genders.[27]

The town also has a bridge club (Ashby Bridge Club), and a hockey club (Ashby Hockey Club)

A greyhound racing track was opened on 3 April 1931. The racing was independent (not affiliated to the sports governing body the National Greyhound Racing Club) known as a flapping track, which was the nickname given to independent tracks.[28] Racing was held on Tuesday and Saturday evenings and distances included 200, 350, 550 and 525 yards. The date of closure is thought to be around 1935.[29]

Ivanhoe Runners, established in 1985 as a road, cross-country and social running club is a thriving and well respected running club based in Ashby de la Zouch. The club organises the annual Ashby 20 mile road race event, usually held five weeks ahead of the London Marathon. The perfect final pre-marathon race preparation or a challenging goal in itself. Set on a testing undulating route the race, organised for runners by runners is well established on the athletics calendar and sells out quickly. For many years the race has been sponsored by ALDI, and uniquely rewards finishers with a famous Ashby 20 hoody instead of a medal along with a well earned cheese cob. As recognition for the race’s outstanding organisation, with well stocked water stations and incredibly enthusiast marshals the race has received the highest Gold BARR grading annually since 2006. In 2017 the Ashby 20 was awarded the Bill Reynolds award for excellence recognising its excellent organisation, medical and emergency provision and community links. Each year,vthe race is supported by a number of local organisations such as Leicestershire Search and Rescue, Ashby Endurance Explorer Scouts, the Rotary Club of Ashby Castle, Ashby Town Council, North West Leicestershire District Council, Derby Runner, Conkers parkrun and Heartwize Runners .


The town was to be served by Ashby Canal from 1804 but the canal never reached Ashby, as it was constructed only to the village of Moira. The town was served by the Leicester–Burton upon Trent line of the Midland Railway[30] and had its own station. After the canal was abandoned in stages between 1944 and 1966, British Railways withdrew the passenger service and closed Ashby de la Zouch railway station in September 1964. The railway remains open for freight. There were also connections to both the Melbourne Line and Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway connecting the town with the towns of Melbourne, Market Bosworth, Hinckley and Nuneaton as well as the city of Derby, but these lines closed between the 1950s and 1980s. Both of the lines now form footpaths with some of the old stations still present but others demolished.

In the 1990s, BR planned to restore passenger services between Leicester and Burton as the second phase of its Ivanhoe Line project. However, after the privatisation of British Rail in 1995, this phase of the project was shelved. In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49-million proposal to restore passenger services to the line, which would include reopening a station at Ashby.[31]

The nearest railway station is Burton-on-Trent, 8 miles (13 km) away. The fastest train to London in the mornings and evenings is from Tamworth (12 miles from Ashby) to Euston at 1hr 2mins average non-stop at peak hours.

A511 Ashby bypass

The A50 Leicester to Stoke-on-Trent road and the A453 Birmingham to Nottingham road used to pass through the town centre. The heavy traffic, which previously travelled through the town, has been greatly relieved by the A42 and A511 bypasses, which replace the A453 and A50, respectively.

Bus routes provide an hourly direct service to Burton-upon-Trent, Coalville, East Midlands Airport, Leicester and Swadlincote (Diamond East Midlands 9 and 19, and Arriva Midlands 29, 29A and X29). The National Express coach network is available in Leicester, which has a daily direct service to London.

East Midlands Airport is 9 miles (14 km) north-east of Ashby. It provides flights to and from other parts of the UK and Europe. For International travellers, Birmingham Airport is 26 miles away (c. 30 mins) and provides international flights.


Television signals can only be received from the Sutton Coldfield TV transmitter which broadcast programmes from Birmingham.[32] However, BBC East Midlands and ITV Central are also received through cable and satellite television such as Freesat and Sky.

Local radio stations are BBC Radio Leicester, Smooth East Midlands, Capital Midlands, Gem, Greatest Hits Radio Midlands, and Hermitage FM, a community based station. [33]

Local newspapers are Ashby Nub News and Leicester Mercury. [34]


Every May, Ashby holds an arts festival sponsored by the district council.[35] This features local artists, musicians, songwriters, poets, performers, and story tellers. The multiple sites around the town host exhibitions, musical performances, workshops and talks, and the town centre is decorated with flags and an outdoor gallery.

Ashby Statutes, a travelling funfair, is held every September. Instituted by Royal Statute, it was originally a hiring fair, where domestic servants and farmworkers would be hired for the year. During the fair in the 21st century, Market Street, the main road through the town (the former A50 trunk road), is closed for nearly a week. The traffic is diverted along narrower roads either side of Market Street. Locals call this event "The Statutes".

A song "Ashby de la Zouch (Castle Abbey)", written by Al Hoffman, Milton Drake and Jerry Livingston, was recorded by the Merry Macs in 1946 on Decca No. 18811. It includes the lines "If you wanna smooch and be happy as a pooch, go to Ashby de la Zouch by the sea."[36] (Ashby-de-la-Zouch is close to the centre of England, almost as far from the sea as is possible.)[37] In April 1946 the American jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus recorded a tune called "Ashby de la Zouch" with his band. The title or choice of song could have been an acknowledgement of guitarist Irving Ashby, who took part in the recording.[38] Ashby-de-la-Zouch is twinned with Pithiviers in north-central France.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch is mentioned in Ivanhoe, the novel by Sir Walter Scott set in 1194, as "the lists at Ashby" and as “the lists at Ashby-de-la-Zouch”,[39] suggesting that jousting may once have taken place in the town (lists being the barriers through which the respective steeds charge during a joust). The same phrase is used in the original computer game Defender of the Crown, which apparently drew inspiration from Scott's novel.

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Adrian Mole, a fictional diarist created by writer Sue Townsend, was from Leicester and moved to Ashby de la Zouch during his lifetime.[41]
  • Harry Flashman, Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC, KCB, KCIE is a fictional character created by Thomas Hughes (1822–1896) in the semi-autobiographical Tom Brown's School Days (1857) and later developed by George MacDonald Fraser (1925–2008). Sir Harry, after his inglorious career, retired to his country home, Gandamack Lodge, in Ashby, there to write his memoirs, known to the public as The Flashman Papers.[42]
  • Ashby de la Zouch is often mentioned by Guz Khan in his show Man Like Mobeen, where some characters who "go on holiday to Ashby de la Zouch" mistakenly say it is in Spain rather than Leicestershire.[43]
  • The protagonist of the 1994 video game Universe is from Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
  • This town is where the tournament for knights and archers described in Chapters VII to XIV of the novel Ivanhoe, by Walter Scott, was held. Both King Richard and Locksley showed their prowess before John, brother of Richard. The novel was set in 1194.[39]


Neighbouring communities include Lount, Normanton le Heath, Smisby, Packington, Donisthorpe, Oakthorpe, Moira, Measham and Coleorton.


  1. ^ So spelled officially "Town of Ashby de la Zouch". North West Leicestershire District Council. Retrieved 24 July 2019.


  1. ^ "Ashby". City population. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  2. ^ Wells 2008, p. 47.
  3. ^ "Town population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Ashby-de-la-Zouche". Open Domesday. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2024.
  5. ^ Watts, Insley & Gelling 2004.
  6. ^ "Ashby-de-la-Zouch". UK Genealogy Archives. Archived from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2024.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Pevsner 1960, p. 51.
  8. ^ "The Ashby Garrison In The Civil War". Archived from the original on 3 October 2006. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Modern photograph of The Bulls Head". Ashby Museum website. Ashby Museum. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Photograph of 51 Market Street, Ashby de la Zouch". Ashby Museum website. Ashby de la Zouch Museum. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  11. ^ Pevsner 1960, p. 50.
  12. ^ Pevsner 1960, p. 79.
  13. ^ a b c d e Pevsner 1960, p. 54.
  14. ^ "The Church in The Heart of Ashby". Ashby Christadelphians.
  15. ^ Pevsner 1960, p. 84.
  16. ^ Noble 2014, p. 420.
  17. ^ Pegden, Tom (18 March 2018). "Why historic county hotel has closed". leicestermercury. Retrieved 18 March 2018.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ KATIE BOWLER (29 November 2012). "Thumbs-up for water tower housing plan". Burton Mail. Retrieved 25 May 2013.[dead link]
  19. ^ "Loudoun Monument, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire". Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  20. ^ Historic England. "Town Hall (1073608)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  21. ^ "Annual and Transition Report, Foreign Private Issuer". SEC. 6 April 2005. During 2003, we announced a proposal to close our biscuit factory at Ashby-de-la-Zouch by the end of 2004 to improve our factory utilization and enable us to effectively support growth in our priority brands. We transferred approximately one-third of production to other sites and completed the first phase of the redundancy program...During 2004...[w]e also completed the closure of our biscuit facility at Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
  22. ^ "Jobs lost as Standard Soap factory closes". BBC News. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Ashby United Community Football Club".
  24. ^ "Ashby Hastings Cricket Club". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  25. ^ "AHCC Web Site". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  26. ^ "Ashby Town Cricket Club". Archived from the original on 20 July 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  27. ^ "Ashby Rugby Football Club". Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  28. ^ Barnes 1988, p. 410.
  29. ^ "ASHBY DE LA ZOUCH". Greyhound Racing Times.
  30. ^ Scott 1907, p. 245.
  31. ^ "Connecting Communities – Expanding Access to the Rail Network" (PDF). London: Association of Train Operating Companies. June 2009. p. 19. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  32. ^ "Sutton Coldfield (Birmingham, England) Full Freeview transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 25 October 2023.
  33. ^ "Hermitage FM". Retrieved 25 October 2023.
  34. ^ "Ashby Nub News". Retrieved 25 October 2023.
  35. ^ "Ashby Arts Festival". Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  36. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: ScrambledEggs1969 (4 October 2012). "The Merry Macs – Ashby de la Zouch By The Sea (Castle Abbey) 1946 Zooch". Retrieved 5 April 2018 – via YouTube.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  37. ^ "Notes & Queries: Which British town is furthest from the sea?". The Guardian. 25 April 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  38. ^ Hoffman, Al; Livingston, Jerry; Drake, Milton, 1912– (1945). "Ashby-De-La-Zouch (Castle Abbey)". D. Davis & Co. Retrieved 22 June 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  39. ^ a b Scott, Walter (1998) [1819]. Ivanhoe. Edinburgh University Press. p. Chapters VII-XIV. ISBN 978-0191794940.
  40. ^ "Michael Wakelam obituary". The Guardian. 24 April 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  41. ^ "What happened to the cast of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole 13 3/4". Northants Live. 30 September 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  42. ^ "Flashman and the Tiger". Ilo Publishers. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  43. ^ "What's on TV: Monday". The Times. 29 March 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2022.


There is a very in-depth record of the town written in a book by W. Scott in 1907 entitled "The History of Ashby-de-la-Zouch", and printed by a local Printer called George Brown. It includes many excellent images.

External links[edit]