Ashbourne, Derbyshire

History Pages

Edwardian Ashbourne - Copyright Alan Fernihough

Ashbourne also has a Heritage Society and a Heritage Centre both with websites.

Ashbourne stems from a small Saxon village first mentioned in the Domesday Book. Here it is referred to under its medieval name of Esseburn. This is from pre 7th century Olde English 'aesc' (the ash trees) plus 'burna' a stream or brook, the stream where the ash trees grew.

"In Esseburn 3 carucates of land taxable. Land for 3 ploughs. Waste,- however it pays 20s. A priest and a church with 1 carucate of land taxable,- he has 2 Villagers and 2 smallholders who have half a plough,- (he has) 1 plough himself and 1 man who pays 16d. Meadow, 20 acres; woodland pasture I league long and 1/2 a league wide. Outliers of this manor, in Afappleton 2c,- Broadlowash 2c,- Thorpe 2c,- (Fenny) Bentley 2c,- Offcote 2c,- Hognaston 4c. Taxable 14c. of land. Land for as many ploughs. Waste exceptfor 11 villagers and 17 smallholders who have 6 1/2 ploughs. Meadow, 25 acres.

(A caraucate is about 120 acres, this was based on the amount of land a team of 8 oxen could plough in a season.)

(For a good online source of Medieval English history book text try "The Internet Medieval Sourcebook" website)

It came to prominence in the 18th and 19th century as a way point at the meeting of six coaching roads. Bonny Prince Charlie proclaimed his father king of England when he was in Ashbourne on his abortive march on London, and Oliver Cromwell took a few pot shots with his artillery at St Oswald's Church but generally History, like the stage coaches of old, seems to have also treated Ashbourne as a way point. Many important people have stayed at Ashbourne, visited it or passed through it (and during the Napoleonic Wars - were imprisoned here) - but the major upheavals of the past seem to have left it untouched.

Some more paintings from the brush of Alan Fernihough (click to see larger image). To contact Alan tel. 01889 565620 or him.

Ashbourne's Historical Buildings & Institutions - click here

Local historian Danny Wells organises talks, courses, day schools and guided walks and tours. For details off what is planned, or to arrange your own please visit his web site at

Victorian Ashbourne

For an excellent description of Ashbourne in the 18th/19th century - read these excerpt from the "Ashbourne Local History Group" book - Early Victorian Country Town - A Portrait Of Ashbourne in the Mid 19th Century.

Chapter 1 - Setting the Scene

Chapter 5 - Ashbourne At Work

Historical Maps

Visit our historical map page - Ashbourne & Derbyshire Historical Maps to Download

Or want to see a zoomable map of modern Ashbourne then click here!

Historical Documents

Extracts from historical directories, books etc. describing Ashbourne and surrounding villages:-

Pigots 1835 Description Of Ashbourne

list of Gentry, Shopkeepers, Coach timetable etc. also from Pigots Directory of 1835.

Full on-line version of "Pigot and Co's Commercial Directory for Derbyshire", 1835

Extract of Ashbourne Parish pages from "White's 1857 Directory of Derbyshire"

Full on-line version of "White's 1857 Directory of Derbyshire"

Extract from "The National Gazeeteer" 1868

Matters Of Life And Death

In recent years much of Ashbourne's history (post 1600's), has been researched by Mr. George Shaw, a noted local historian, and former verger of St Oswalds Church.

Mr Shaw has written a number of pamphlets about Ashbourne :-

These are available for sale from the Tourist Information Centre in Ashbourne (tel 01335 - 343666), or can be bought from St Oswalds Church.

One other pamphlet is no longer available in print, but Mr Shaw has kindly given permission to re-print it here.

This is "Matters Of Life and Death" - History in Baptism, Marriages and Burials as recorded in the Parish Register of St Oswald's Parish Church, Ashbourne 1539 - 1945). This is a selection of the most interesting entries in the registers. If you are looking for ancestors - try searching the document - you be surprised what you find!

This is also available as a small download - Zipped Word V2 file.

Derbyshire Heritage - Local website


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