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Ashwell, Hertfordshire

Historical Description

Ashwell, a village and a parish in Herts. The village stands at the source of the river Rhee, where rise the thirty or more springs eventually forming the river Cam. It is 2½ miles NW of a station of its own name on the Hitchin and Cambridge branch of the G.N.R., and 4½ NNE of Baldock.

That there was a British settlement here is proved by the existence of an entrenched camp called Arbury Banks, about a mile NE of the village. Afterwards it was a Roman town called Magrovinium. British and Roman coins have been found. It bore anciently the name of Escewell, and was a seat of the Saxon kings, a borough, and a market town. It now consists of several scattered streets, the three principal running parallel, and has a post and telegraph office under Baldock. The parish comprises 4109 acres; population, 1556. The manor was given, before the time of Edward the Confessor, to Westminster Abbey, and passed at the dissolution to the see of London. The Roman road, Icknield Street, passes½ a mile S of the village. The living is a rectory in the diocese of St Albans; value about £350 net, with residence. Patron, the Bishop of St Albans. The Church of St Mary the Virgin is one of the finest in the county, mostly of Early English date. It consists of chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles, north and south porches, and a massive and lofty tower, surmounted by a finely tapering spire 176 feet in height, containing a peal of 6 bells, the oldest bearing date 1694. There are various inscriptions on the walls of the tower, one referring to the great plague of 1361. The church was restored in 1868. It contains that which is said to be the founder's tomb, without date. The oak pulpit is dated 1627. There is a large ambry in the Lady Chapel, a piscina, and the remains of a reredos.

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 CountyHertfordshire 
Ecclesiastical parishAshwell St. Mary 
Poor Law unionRoyston 

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

Church Records

Findmypast, in association with the Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies have the Baptisms, Banns, Marriages, and Burials online for Ashwell

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Ashwell from the following:

Land and Property

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


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

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Hertfordshire newspapers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Hertfordshire, 1572 and 1634. Edited by Walter C. Metcalfe, F.S.A. is available on the Heraldry page.

DistrictNorth Hertfordshire
Postal districtSG7
Post TownBaldock