A Taste of the
Ashover, Peak District, Derbyshire town in Amber Valley, Calor village of the year 2005 …
Ashover (pronounced by some as Asher) village has a rich and long history. It is Situated in the beautiful Amber Valley, nestled in picturesque countryside in a deep, narrow valley, with wooded slopes and hills all around and fascinating and inviting narrow lanes, tracks and paths leading all directions. One of its quirky claims to fame is that the Bassett family, yes, those of 'Liquorice Allsorts' fame, was first made in Ashover.
The village existed in Saxon times when it was known as Esseover (which I believe means beyond the ash trees). It was the scene of some civil war skirmishes in in 1644 which resulted in the destruction of all the stained glass in the church (the roundheads allegedly needed the lead for bullets but some sources indicate it was vandalism) and nearby Eastwood Hall. There is a plaque outside the Crispin Inn near the church which tells a further tale of those troubled times - the Landlord of the time tried in vain to keep the already drunk Royalist troops out of the pub ... I guess if he had thought it through the result would have been fairly predictable ... the troops "turned him out and set watch at the door till all the ale was drunk or wasted".
There is a great evening mountain bike circuit from Ashover which, although quite short is fairly taxing in its early stages from the village and then up through the quarry. It is described in the Vertebrate Graphics White Peak guide. It is well worth doing. There is plenty of walking on the many local footpaths and some gritstone climbing is available nearby (Chatsworth Guide Book) but unless you have run out of other places to climb in the Peak District, is not particularly inspiring as you have to thrash your way around in dense undergrowth.
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Ashover Tourist Information
Nearest Tourist Information Centres (please verify opening times independently, we think they are right but would hate you to turn up and find the places closed!):
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
Tel: 01246 345777/8
Fax: 01246 345770
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
Tel: 01629 583388
Fax: 01629 584131
Ashover gives its name to the rock type, the Ashover Grit and
was home to the Gregory Mine, a lead mine which operated for around 250 years,
finally closing in 1803 after running at a loss for a decade or so. Having
said that, during the last 50 years of its existence, the output was a creditable
500 tons per year of ore (though this figure varies wildly depending upon
the source of information) which certainly boosted the local economy. From
the mid eighteenth century, a steam engine was used to drain the mine, designed
by local engineer Francis Thomson of Hill House, Ashover although this had
to be superseded at a later date when flooding worsened. Today, very little
of the mine remains. In addition to the lead mining, tha parish of Ashover
had lime kilns, coal, smelting, lace thread making, flour mills, cobblers,
weavers and claims to have produced the longest ropes in the country at the
time. A far cry from the quiet rural village that it is today!
A further piece of Industrial heritage is the Ashover Light Railway which was conceived by George Stephenson's Clay Cross Company; initially intended as a standard gauge railway to link the company premises with the quarries at Ashover and Fallgate, it was finally built with a 2ft gauge in order to keep costs down. It was operational from 1925 to 1950. The railway was designed to carry freight but a planning condition demanded passenger capacity too and several stations were built along the line. Currently, the Ashover Light Railway Society plan to resore it to working order.
The Ashover Show - Country fairs are popular in Derbyshire and Ashover is a village who has a long standing show with the usual livestock, horses, crafts, steam engines etc plus special events each year. If you are in the area mid August and like that sort of thing then it is well worth a visit.
During the 19th century, there was a fashion for 'taking the waters' and Ashover had two 'Hydros'. Unlike the one that used to exist in Baslow, the two buildings in Ashover are still in existence, but are no longer hydropathic institutions. The Ashover House Hydro is now apartments.
According to local author Tom Bates the earliest written mention of Ashover was using its Saxon name ...
"The earliest surviving reference to 'Esseover' comes
in the Domesday Book of 1086-7 when it is credited with a church, a priest
and a mill, which together were worth a grand total of thirty shillings!
Of the church mentioned in the Domesday Survey nothing now remains except
the Norman lead font of 1150, which surprisingly is the
only one of its kind left in Derbyshire - the rest having been melted
down for bullets during the Civil War. The present All Saints Parish Church
was erected between 1350 and 1419 incorporating some of the earlier fabric,
notably the south doorway, built in 1275 by Margery
Reresby. Thomas Babington who died in 1518 built the tower and the graceful
spire which at 128ft has been a familiar landmark in the valley for 600 years.
He also gave the rood screen beneath which lies his tomb complete with alabaster
effigies of the Knight and his Lady which Pevsner thought 'the best of its
date in Derbyshire'."
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