Visit Ashbourne and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Ashbourne, Derbyshire, is the gateway to the Izaak Walton country of Dovedale. It lies at the southern end of the Peak District. A small market town, its main Street, Church Street, still looks much as it did when Charles I attended a service in St Oswald's Church after his defeat at Naseby in 1645.
The church, with its 215-ft spire, has been called ‘The Cathedral of the Peak’. George Eliot, who set her novel Adam Bede in Ellastone, 4 miles. south west. of Ashbourne on the Staffordshire bank of the Dove, described Ashbourne church as ‘the finest mere parish church in the kingdom’. Consecrated in 1241, it has been weathered and scarred:
marks made by the Parliamentary artillery in 1644 can still be seen on the outside west wall of the nave, near the figure of St Oswald. That the damage was so slight was due to the courage and indignation of the townspeople of Ashbourne who sent out a deputation to remonstrate with the Parliamentary forces - and made their point.
The pillars of the main wrought-iron gates bear an unusual decoration of skulls and flames. The inside of the church is impressive, with its 176-ft nave and chancel and spectacular crossing-tower. There is some of the original glazing in the great l4th-century east window; the font is 13th-century; and both pulpit and lectern are ornamented with Derbyshire's famous Blue John stone. Monuments abound. That to Sir Thomas Cockayne bears what is believed to be the earliest rhyming epitaph in existence (‘And did his house and name restore, Which others had decayed before’). His son's tomb has a good brass of 1538. But the most famous monument is that to five-year-old Penelope Boothby, a life-size figure in white Carrara marble, carved by Thomas Banks in 1791. Penelope, who lies asleep, is said to have been able to speak in the four languages inscribed on her tomb: Italian, French, Latin and English. The English inscription reads: ‘She was in form and intellect most exquisite. The unfortunate Parents ventured their all on this frail Bark, And the wreck was total.’
If spring is early, the churchyard will be full of daffodils when one of Ashbourne's major annual events takes place on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. This is the ancient and robust football game between the inhabitants of two banks of the Henmore Brook. The goals are 3 miles apart, at Sturston Mill and Clifton Mill, the rules are few, and any number can play.
Ashbourne, like Bakewell, can claim fame for a foodstuff. Ashbourne Gingerbread, a ginger shortbread biscuit with an unusual flavour, came to the town from France with the 300 French prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars who were billeted here. The recipe has been passed from baker to baker down the years.
Many reckon Church Street the finest street in Derbyshire. Its varied parts have mellowed into a harmonious whole. A number of the buildings are worth more than a casual glance: the Elizabethan Grammar School; two sets of almshouses, Owlfield and Pegg's; the Mansion House where Dr Samuel Johnson was once a regular visitor; and the curiously named Green Man & Black's Head with its inn sign right across the street and a tiny courtyard.
Within easy reach of Ashbourne are some of the prettiest villages in Derbyshire: Hartington, 9 miles north, just off the Buxton road, in a beautiful setting; Osmaston, 2 miles south off the Derby road, with its thatched cottages; Parwich, 5 miles north, with ancient earthworks nearby; and Fenny Bentley, 3 miles north, where there is a most curious monument in St Edward's Church, the shrouded figures of Thomas Beresford, his wife and 21 children, carved in alabaster.
Nearby cities: Derby
Nearby towns: Cheadle, Leek, Matlock, Rocester, Uttoxeter, Wirksworth.
Nearby villages: Brailsford, Cromford, Darley Moor, Ellastone, Fenny Bentley, Kniveton, Mappleton, Mayfield.
Have you decided to visit Ashbourne or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Ashbourne bed and breakfast (a Ashbourne B&B or Ashbourne b and b)
- a Ashbourne guesthouse
- a Ashbourne hotel (or motel)
- a Ashbourne self-catering establishment, or
- other Ashbourne accommodation