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Ashbourne, Derbyshire

Historical Description

Ashborne or Ashbourne, a market and union town, a township and a parish, in Derbyshire. The town stands on the river Henmore, 1½ mile above its influx to the Dove, at the terminus of a branch of the North Stafford railway, 7½ miles NE of the junction with the main line at Rocester station, and 13½ by road NW of Derby. It was formerly called Ashburn, and anciently Esseburn. It belonged to the Crown at the time of the Conquest; passed to the duchy of Lancaster; was taken by the Parliamentarian forces in 1644; retaken by the Royal forces, and visited by Charles I., in 1545; and occupied as headquarters by the Scottish army of Prince Charles Edward on their march to Derby in 1745. Its situation is pleasant, and its vicinity rich in romantic scenery, so that it attracts many visitors. Its houses in general are of red brick, roofed with slate, and its streets are tolerably neat; it is governed by a local board of 15 members. It has a head post, money order, and telegraph office, three banks, a town-hall, newsrooms, a small jail, a Queen Elizabeth's grammar-school, three national schools and a Wesleyan school, two churches, Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, and Congregational chapels, a workhouse, a cattle market, several almshouses, and large general charities, and is a seat of petty sessions and county courts. The grammar-school was founded in 1585, has estates yielding about £300 a year, and is a substantial stone building in the Early Tudor style. The house once inhabited by Dr John Taylor, and visited by his intimate' friend Dr Johnson, stands opposite the grammar-school. The parish church is a spacious, cruciform, Early English edifice of 1241; is surmounted by a central square tower, with lofty, ornamented, octagonal spire; was restored in the years 1881-83, and the west end of the nave entirely rebuilt, at a cost of about £4000, mostly raised by subscription; and contains brasses and tombs of the Cockaynes, the Bradburnes, and the Boothbys. The finest of the monuments is a statuary one, in white marble, from the chisel of Banks, to the memory of Penelope, the only child of Sir Brooke Boothby, who died, in 1791, in her sixth year, and this is supposed to have suggested to Chantrey his beautiful group of the two children in Lichfield Cathedral. The town is in high repute as a mart for cattle, cheese, and other agricultural produce, and it has a weekly market on Saturday, and a market for cattle every alternate Thursday; general fairs on 13 Feb., 21 May, 16 Aug., 20 Oct., 29 Nov., or on the preceding day if the 29th be a Sunday, and 15 Dec. for horses, cattle, and wool, when a statute fair for hiring servants is also held; and fairs for cheese on the second Tuesday in March and the third Tuesday in Sept. Stay-making, lace-making, and cotton manufacture are carried on. Population of town, 3809. Acreage of parish, 5096; population, 4581. The property is much sub-divided. Ashborne Hall was long the seat of the Boothbys; was the quarters of Prince Charles Edward on his march to Derby; and is now owned by the Franks family. Ashborne-Green Hall is a meeting-place of sportsmen. Mayfield Cottage, in the neighbourhood, was for a considerable time the residence of the poet Moore, and the place where he wrote great part of his "Lalla Rookh." The Henmore and the Dove, in their connection with the parish, afford prime angling for trout and grayling, and were noted for it by Warton and Cotton. Thorp-Cloud Hill, 3 miles from the town and 300 feet high, commands a fine view of the craggy flanks of the Dove. The living is a discharged vicarage, united with the rectory of Mappleton, in the diocese of Southwell; value, £340. Patron, the Bishop of Southwell. Sir Aston Cockaine, the Elizabethan poet, and Sir Brooke Boothby, the author of "Tables and Satires" and of other works, were natives.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyDerbyshire 
Ecclesiastical parishAshbourn St. Oswald 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The register dates from the year 1538, but its earlier portion is in a fragmentary condition, although a copy only of the original: original entries begin in 1604; some early entries of special interest have been stolen, among which was a record of King Charles I. having attended divine service in August, 1645: the Mapleton register, dating from 1704, is also kept here., in conjunction with the Derbyshire Record Office, have the Church of England Baptisms (1538-1916), Marriages and Banns (1538-1932), and Burials (1538-1991) online.


Church of England

St. John

St. John's church, in the Buxton road, opened 28th May, 1871, as a Free church, at a cost of about £8,000, defrayed by the late Francis Wright esq. of Osmaston Manor, who also endowed the church with £115 yearly and a residence, was licensed by the bishop in 1883 and is a building of stone consisting of apsidal chancel, nave, aisles and a western tower, forming the entrance, and containing a clock and one bell: the organ was presented by Messrs. Bradley and T. O. Farmer: there are 600 sittings.

St. Oswald, King and Martyr (parish church)

The church of St. Oswald, King and Martyr, so dedicated, as appears from an ancient brass affixed to one of the columns in the south transept, by Hugh de Pateshul, Bishop of Coventry A.D. 1241, is a cruciform building, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave, south aisle, transept, north and south porches and a central tower, with lofty octagonal spire, 212 feet in height, ribbed with ball flower ornaments and pierced with twenty dormer lights in five tiers of four each; this spire, a work of great beauty and remarkable lightness, is called the "Pride of the Peak," and was raised to its original height and thoroughly restored in 1891-4, at a cost of £5,000, Mr. W. White being the architect: the tower contains a fine peal of 8 bells, all cast in 1815, and an ancient sanctus bell: the south aisle is divided from the nave by an arcade of four Decorated arches supported on handsome columns: the church is 176 feet 6 inches in length and 98 feet 6 inches from north to south across the transepts: the chancel is mostly Early English, but the east window is Perpendicular, and has been filled with stained glass, presented by Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Corbet, of The Grove, Sturston; on each side are six lancets, six of which have been filled with stained glass by the Errington family: on the 25th February, 1884, a statue of St. Oswald, carved in hard red sandstone, by Mr. Bridgeman, of Lichfield, was placed in an ancient niche (the base and canopy of which have been restored) in the great central buttress of the west end: the carved oak screen was erected 2 April, 1884, as a memorial to the Rev. J. R. Errington M.A. vicar of Ashbourne, 1850-72, and is surmounted by the figures of four kneeling angels, executed in oak: in the south wall are three sedilia with pointed arches, and beyond these a piscina under a small trefoil niche: on the north side is a richly ornamented and canopied tomb, with crocketed pinnacles, said to be that of Robert Kniveton, of Underwood Grange (1471), and there are monuments to Christopher and Mary Harland (1810), the Rev. John Saunders, late rector of Leigh, the Rev. Thomas Goodread, vicar of Ashbourne (1702), George Errington esq. (1769), and his son George (1795), to Lieut.-Col. Bainbrigge, killed at the battle of Egmont-Op-Zee in 1799, and Rachel, his wife, and to Lieut. Edward Bainbrigge, killed in the trenches before Sebastopol in 1855: in 1877-8 the chancel was thoroughly restored at a cost of £2,500, under the direction of the late Sir G. Gilbert Scott B.A.; the Cokayne chapel, adjoining the chancel on the north side, is also chiefly in the Early English style, and contains the tombs of the Cokayne, Boothby and Bradburne families; an arcade of two bays divides it from the chancel, a handsome parclose of Decorated design inclosing the whole; on the east side are two stained lancet windows, one to Thomas Hartshorne esq. (1860) and the other to Capt. Holland R.N. (1860), erected as a mark of respect by the inhabitants of Ashbourne: on an altar tomb of excellent character, in freestone, are the recumbent alabaster figures of John Cokayne, in the costume of the 14th century (1372), and Edmund, his son, clad in the knightly dress of that period, who was slain at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1404; the next is an altar tomb entirely of alabaster, enriched with plain shields, and bearing the recumbent figures of Sir John Cokayne, eldest son of Edmund (1447) and his first wife, Joan, the figure of the knight affording a good example of the armour worn during the time of Henry V. and Henry VI.: an altar tomb of Purbeck marble bears an alabaster slab, incised with the figures of a knight clad in armour, and his lady, representing Sir Thomas Cokayne, knighted by Henry VIII. at the siege of Tournay, and Dame Barbara his wife (1537): under the north window is an altar tomb of Purbeck marble, with brasses (renewed at the expense of a descendant of Lord Cullen) to Francis Cokayne esq. (1538) and Dorothy his wife; there is also an alabaster slab to John Cokayne (1505), son of Sir John Cokayne, and an altar tomb of freestone, upon which are the recumbent figures in alabaster of Sir Humphrey Bradburne, knight, of Lea (1581), and Elizabeth his wife, the sides of the tomb bearing figures of their sons and daughters, with a shield of arias: here also are the effigies of John and Ann Bradburne, and a monument to Jane, daughter of Sir Henry Bradburne knt. and wife of Henry Sacheverell esq. of Morley: in this transept are many memorials of the family of Boothby, including one to Ann, wife of Brooke Boothby (1750), an alabaster monument to Sir Brooke Boothby bart. (1789) and Phoebe, his wife (1788), and the exquisitely pathetic and yet simple marble monument to Penelope, only child of Sir Brooke Boothby bart. who died in 1791, aged five years, by T. Banks B.A.: there is also a mural monument to Sir William Boothby bart. (1706) and Dame Hill, his wife (1704); another to Hill Boothby (1756); a monument in freestone to Sir William Boothby bart. (1824), and Rafeld his wife with others of his family from 1805 to 1846: these tombs and monuments were restored in 1878 by Geo. Edwd. Cokayne esq. M.A., F.S.A. Clarencieux King of Arms in the Heralds' College: the organ, placed in the Bradburne chapel, was erected in 1840 as a memorial to Mr. Corden; this chapel has a large Perpendicular window of seven lights on its south side, probably inserted by the Bradburnes at the foundation of their chantry in 1483: the transepts are Decorated, the north transept, restored in 1879-80, at a cost of £600, containing a fine stained window, erected in 1877 by the Misses Hartshorne in memory of their parents, and another to John Lister, who died in 1854; one lancet window has been filled with ancient glass taken from the south transept, which has a memorial window, erected in 1874 by the inhabitants of Ashbourne, to the Rev. J. R. Errington M.A. for 22 years vicar of Ashbourne; here is also a similar memorial to John Robert Dalby (1870); and in the south aisle is a window to members of the Wise family: the font is Early English, and there is a brass lectern, presented in 1878 as a memorial of Lady Bent by her grandchildren: under the north transept window is a stately mural monument of marble, in the Renaissance style, to Sir Thomas Cokayne (1592) and Dorothy his wife (1595), representing the knight and his lady kneeling towards a reading desk, while underneath appear in bas-relief the figures of their ten children; there are also monuments to James Sherratt (1710), the Rev. William Rawlins (1783) and Hannah his wife (1786), with their son William (1817), as well as to the Rev. Samuel Shipley M.A. 44 years vicar of Ashbourne, d. 1850; a handsome monument in freestone to Sir Matthew Blakiston bart. (d. 1862), and a brass to Nicholas Spalden (1713): extant records show that there once existed in this church at least three chantries: St. Mary's, founded by Henry Kniveton, rector of Norbury, in 1391: that of the Holy Cross in 1392, by the feoffees of Nicholas Kniveton esq.; and St. Oswald's, about 1485, by John Bradburne, of Hough, in this parish, and Anne his wife; and there were also endowments for maintaining perpetual lights in the church: the nave, south aisle, and other portions of the church were carefully restored during the years 1881-3, at a cost of about £4,000, the west end of the nave being entirely rebuilt: the plate includes a paten, presented by Sir William Boothby bart. in 1687: the churchyard is well kept and has a fine avenue of limes on the north side, and an ancient yew.


Sion Countess of Huntingdon Connexion chapel, Derby Road

Sion Countess of Huntingdon Connexion chapel, in the Derby road, is a structure of brick, built and endowed by the late John Cooper esq. in the year 1801, together with the minister's house and almshouses adjoining; the house and schoolroom were rebuilt in 1905; the chapel seats 400; the chapel was founded in 1787.


Primitive Methodist Chapel, Station Street

The Primitive Methodist chapel, in Station street, erected in 1894, at a cost of £1,700, is an edifice of red brick, with Stanton stone dressings, and has 400 sittings.

Wesleyan Chapel, Church Street

The Wesleyan chapel, in Church street, erected in 1880-81, at a cost of about £4,860, is an edifice of red brick, relieved with Stanton stone, in the Italian style, and has 500 sittings: a Sunday and day school was held in rooms beneath the chapel.


Gospel Mission Hall, South Street

The Gospel Mission hall, in South street, erected in 1888, will seat 100 persons.

Roman Catholic

All Saints, Bellevue

The Catholic church, Bellevue, dedicated to All Saints, is an edifice of red brick, erected in 1887, and contains an altar of alabaster, designed and constructed by the donor, Major-General P. Hercy: in 1900 an oaken pulpit was carved and presented by Col Hercy: the church affords 120 sittings.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Ashbourne from the following:

Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Derbyshire is online.


Online maps of Ashbourne are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Derbyshire papers online:

DistrictDerbyshire Dales
RegionEast Midlands
Postal districtDE6
Post TownAshbourne