This fine old market town lies on the edge of the Peak District National Park. It is famous for its gingerbread men, the origins of the Salvation Army and an ancient football game played every year on Shrove Tuesday.
Derbyshire Dales © TAB
Ashbourne lies on Henmore Brook, which joins the River Dove to the west. The Dove leads into Dovedale - one of the loveliest of the the Derbyshire dales. The brook winds its way through the town and many fine 16/19th century stone and brick built dwellings line the main thoroughfare of Church Street. The 212 ft spire of tSt Oswald's (13th-c) dominates the western end of the street; noted for its many fine monuments.
Along Church Street you will also find the Old Grammar School founded in 1585 by Elizabeth I. Opposite to which is The Mansion, where Dr Samuel Johnson often stayed with his friend, Dr John Taylor. There are many fine coaching inns in the town. The Black's Head Royal Hotel has its sign on an arch across St John's Street, which claims to be longest inn sign in the world.
The 15th-c black and white Tudor style Gingerbread Shop still has traces of its original wattle and daub construction. The shop contains a tea room where you can enjoy the town's famous gingerbread men, along with cream cakes and other snacks. Ashbourne's market place is a busy scene on a Thursday and Saturday, selling a wide variety of local produce.
The ancient Shrovetide football match is played by the Up'ards and the Down'ards, those living on opposite sides of Henmore Brook. The game dates from medieval times and it is a free-for-all with few set rules and no limit on the number of players. The goals, which are 3 miles apart, are old millwheels, which the person scoring must touch with the ball. Play continues until a goal is scored, which can sometimes take two days.
Bonnie Prince Charlie once stayed at Ashbourne Hall in 1745 during his military campaign against Derby. The hall, which stands opposite the Memorial Gardens, is now a Hotel. The gardens contain a memorial to Catherine Booth (born in Ashbourne in 1829) who, with her husband William Booth, founded the Salvation Army.
Ashbourne is ideally situated as a base from which to explore the Dovedale National Nature Reserve, located to the north. Two long-distance paths are also accessible from the town, The Limey Way (which runs 40 miles (65 km) from Thorpe to Castleton) and the Tissington Trail to the south.
Tourist Information Centre:
|13 Market Pl, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 1EU - Tel: 01335 343666|