St Nicholas Church, Ashill
Ashill shown within Norfolk
|Area||12.26 km2 (4.73 sq mi)|
|Population||1,426 (2001 census)
|– density||116/km2 (300/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||Mid Norfolk|
The civil parish has an area of 12.26 square kilometres and in the 2001 census had a population of 1,426 in 634 households. For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of Breckland.
Ashill was originally called Asleigh, which meant a clearing in the Ash wood. The parish church of St Nicholas dates from the 14th century and stands close to the group of houses that form the oldest part of the village. The village centres on the green and a duck pond. Drovers travelling to Swaffham market would stay overnight on the green, using a shed as accommodation, whilst their cattle grazed on the green and drank from the pond.
The original school was built using funds from Rev. Bartholomew Edwards and opened in 1848. Bartholomew was the longest-serving incumbent of a single parish, totalling 76 years in Ashill, from 1813 to 1889. The National Society for Promoting Religious Education built an adjoining classroom and school house in 1876 and the school name was changed to Ashill National School. The school house was taken over by Norfolk Education committee in 1957, however, this was subsequently sold on again in 1979. It is now the headquarters for the local St John Ambulance division. The present school building, housing Ashill Voluntary Controlled Primary School, was opened by the Bishop of Lynn, The Right Reverend David Bentley, in 1989 and caters for 119 pupils.
Although the local Post Office is now closed, there is a new general store in the village providing general groceries and convenience items. Opening from early morning to late in the evening, this is the only shop actively trading.
The Community Centre complex was completed in the 1970s and provides Ashill with a main event hall, with a large grassed playing field for sporting activities. The Village Aid's Call-in centre was converted from the village coal store next to the pond and operates as a drop-in centre for the local community. Allotments are available from the Parish Council for a moderate rent. Ashill has facilities that cater for a wide age-range from a Toddlers club, the bowls club (indoor and outdoor) at the Old Hall Leisure Centre, (which also has a fully licensed function suite and two bars) up to The Lodge Care Home for the elderly. The old White Hart public house has had a complete makeover and is now under new management - "McTaggarts" provides a welcome addition to village life.
The village has its own free monthly newsletter, Ashlink, which contains local notices and announcements, detail on local events, clubs and societies and submissions from local residents. The publication is produced by Ashill residents, and offers a detailed insight into the village and offers warm welcomes to new residents in the village, as well as periodically fanning the local 'duck wars'. It also features a crossword with a £100 prize.
The parish church of St Nicholas originates from the 14th century but also features many aspects from more recent times. The north windows hold some 15th-century mediaeval glass, the chancel features 19th-century glass by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake, whilst the roof is of 17th-century origin. The current incumbent is the Rev Jane Atkins. Bell ringing practise takes place on a Thursday night - new ringers always welcome.
- Anglican - Missionary Congregation (Extra Parishional)
There is also a Charismatic Anglican congregation present in the village that operates outside of the parish system but is still a member of the Church of England. It was first planted in 1997 after a controversy over the removal of the pews to allow more room in St. Nicolas. The church moved between local community centres before buying a garage in Ashill and converting it into what is now the Well Christian Centre. The Well is not actually owned by the church but by a separate charity named "Cornerstone Building Trust" as it was decided on theological grounds it better not to be tied to just one property but have the freedom to move if need be. The church facilitates Mid Norfolk Kidzklub, folYOUTH, Intents Festival, Good companions, Women Together as well as being the founding member of the Fountain Network. The congregation is reasonably diverse in relation to the local demographics and in late 2012 saw 250–300 people on a regular Sunday morning.
Ashill Methodist Church is a 92-year-old brickwork building situated in Hale Road. The chapel has now closed and is being converted to a residential building.
A notable person to have hailed from Ashill is the former Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion, Charlton Athletic and once Premiership player Andy Hunt. He was most notable for his spell with Charlton in the Premiership.
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
- Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001) Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes
- Ashill review
- Historic Herefordshire On-Line: Sites and Monuments Record database
- Ashill V.C.P. School Website
- Ashill Voluntary Controlled Primary School
- St Nicholas page
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