Ashbourne Town has a rich and long history...

The attractive Georgian market town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, lies at the southern edge of the Peak District. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Esseburn, meaning "a brook where ash trees grow" and was the meeting point of six main coaching roads, including the important London to Manchester route. This naturally led to the town becoming a prime commercial centre for the surrounding villages, a status it still enjoys today, boasting a large number of specialist food shops, as well as two national supermarkets.

Ashbourne now has a population of around 7,800 but tourism is of major importance to the town and the visitor will find no lack of tearooms, restaurants and pubs, in addition to high quality fashion and outdoor clothing outlets and gift shops. Ashbourne was granted its market charter in 1257 and still holds a market on the cobbled square on Thursdays and Saturdays. Since 2005, Ashbourne has held Fair Trade town status - meaning that a large range of Fair Trade products are available there - and the range is continuing to grow.

One of the most important buildings in Ashbourne is without doubt the church of Saint Oswald, (dedicated to Saint Oswald, king of Northumbria) and consecrated in the early 1200s, although it is believed there was a church on this site since Saxon times. Its spire rises to a height of 212 feet and internally the visitor will discover much of historical interest, including the 13th century font, monuments to local dignitaries and beautiful stained glass. Most famous is the carrara (Italian marble) figure by Thomas Banks, in memory of six year old Penelope Boothby, commissioned by her father, Sir Brooke Boothby, 6th Baronet.

Opposite the church stand the original Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School buildings, founded in 1585 by Sir Thomas Cockayne. Also of historical interest are the various Almshouses, dating from 1640 to 1733, and the Green Man and Black's Head Georgian coaching inn (frequented by Doctor Samuel Johnson and James Boswell) whose sign hangs over the main thoroughfare. Other literary figures with connections to Ashbourne include George Eliot and Izaak Walton. Ashbourne was certainly not short of other eminent visitors - here Bonnie Prince Charlie proclaimed his father as King James III before turning back for Scotland at Swarkestone Bridge near Derby in 1745.

Ashbourne was the birthplace of Catherine Booth, wife of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. Her childhood home on Sturston Street bears a plaque to this event and in her memory there is a statue in the Memorial Gardens.

An historical event still active today is the notorious and often riotous Shrovetide football match, played annually on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday between the Up'ards (born north of the Henmore Brook) and the Down'ards from the southern side. There are few rules: the "turning up" of a hand painted cork-filled ball in Shaw Croft car park near the town centre, after which the teams battle through the town, across fields and even along the river, in an attempt to "score" a goal (the goals being 3 miles apart). Such is the enthusiasm of the hundreds of participants that shops and office premises are boarded up for the duration! A local celebrity usually "turns up" the ball but in 2003 this honour went to no other than Prince Charles.

For outdoor types seeking more traditional activities, the local area offers a wealth of leisure opportunities, including walking, rock climbing in nearby Dovedale and water sports at Carsington Reservoir, also only a short drive away. Cyclists of all ages and abilities can enjoy the 13 mile traffic free Tissington trail (originally part of the Ashbourne to Buxton railway) and those without their own wheels can hire a bike at the seasonal centre at Mappleton Lane to the north of Ashbourne town centre. The modern Ashbourne Leisure Centre, situated close to the town centre, has facilities which include a swimming pool and squash courts.

For those with an artistic leaning, the Ashbourne Festival, held in June, has become an important cultural event, now reaching a wide audience. The month of July sees the annual "Highland Gathering" where Scotland meets Derbyshire! This spectacular encompasses numerous events, including tug of war contests, pipe band competitions, to name but a few. The Agricultural Show, more traditionally English in its content, takes place in August each year.

From its early origins, Ashbourne has kept up with the times to maintain its status as a very attractive Derbyshire town, where the visitor will certainly not be disappointed whatever his or her interest.

Accommodation in or close to Ashbourne

Thumbnail: Latham Hall, large self-catering farmhouse holiday let.

Latham Hall, Self-Catering, Calton, Ashbourne - SW of the Peak District sleeps 8,9,10,11,12,

A large, attractive former farmhouse situated near the village of Calton ... More information or visit Latham Hall web site..

Total number of accommodation listings: 1

Ashbourne Tourist Information

Getting to Ashbourne

Ashbourne is well served by buses from East Midlands Airport and the nearest train station (times and booking here) which is Derby, as are the nearest National Express and Megabus terminals. From Derby, the bus takes about 40 minutes (bus timetables here).

Suggestions for coming by car: from the south east - M1, Derby and the A52. From the North East - M1, A38, A6 (Ambergate to Belper), A517. From the North West - M6, A500, A52. From the south west - M5, A500, A52. Please note that these are just suggestions and are not the shortest or the fastest, we just think they are the least fiddly. If you have a satnav system, it is probably best to follow that.

Ashbourne Tourist Information Centre

13 Market Place,
Tel: 01335 343666

Please call the tourist information centre directly for their current opening times.

The Ashbourne Tourist Information Centre is conveniently located in the Market Place. There is a drop off point for disabled in front plus the usual entrance ramp, Inside, there is full access for disabled, including wheelchair users. Wheelchairs are available if needed and there is also a hearing loop. The lighting and signage has been designed with the visually impaired in mind.

At Ashbourne TIC you can find out about the many activities available, find out about and book train and bus services, book tickets for local theatres, festivals, shows or events, pick up guidebooks, free leaflets/brochures, buy souvenirs and other gifts, books, benefit from local knowledge and even book accommodation (you pay a deposit which will be deducted from your bill although a small charge may be levied for this service).

Other Tourist Information Centres around the southern fringes of the Peak District (please verify opening times independently, we think they are right but would hate you to turn up and find the places closed!):

Assembly Rooms
Market Place
Tel: 01332 255802
Fax: 01332 256137

Open seven days a week:
Monday to Friday 9.30am - 5.30pm
Saturday 9.30am - 5pm
Sunday and Bank Holidays 10.30am - 2.30pm

Tourist Information Centre
Rykneld Square
S40 1SB
Tel: 01246 345777/8
Fax: 01246 345770

Open times:

Mon 2 Apr 2007 - Sat 27 Oct 2007 Mon - Sat 09:00 to 17:30
Mon 29 Oct 2007 - Sat 15 Mar 2008 Mon - Sat 09:00 to 17:00

Sells a range of tickets - from theatre seats to coaches and trains.

Matlock Tourist Information Centre
Crown Square
Tel: 01629 583388
Fax: 01629 584131

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Peak District Derbyshire - Ashbourne B&B and Self catering accommodation

A Derbyshire town on the southern fringe of the Peak District.

A short way from Dovedale and easy access to the southern end of the Tissington Trail, Ashbourne is a veritable mecca for outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Peak District. There is easy access to the Staffordshire Moorlands and there is plenty of walking close by that would suit all tastes. Water sports enthusiasts and anglers can be at Carsington reservoir in a matter of minutes. The town boasts several pubs and a cosmopolitan range of places to eat. It is a perfect accommodation centre for the Derbyshire Peak District with easy access to the rest of the region plus the cities of the Potteries, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Contact us by email or by phone 0114 360 1004

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