Ashbourn (St. Oswald)

ASHBOURN (St. Oswald), a market-town and parish, comprising the townships of Hulland, Hulland-Ward, Hulland-Intacks, Sturston, and Yeldersley, in the hundred of Appletree; the township of Clifton and Compton, in the hundred of Morleston and Litchurch; and the chapelry of Alsop-le-dale and Eaton, the hamlet of Newton-Grange, and the liberty of Offcote-Underwood, in the hundred of Wirksworth; S. division of the county of Derby; the whole containing 4884 inhabitants, of whom 2246 are in the town, 13½ miles (N. W. by W.) from Derby, and 140 (N. W. by N.) from London. This place, which at the time of the Conquest was held in royal demesne, is in Domesday book called Esseburn. No event of importance occurred until the 17th century, when, in 1644, a battle was fought here between the royalists and the parliamentarians, the former of whom were defeated with considerable loss. Charles I. was at Ashbourn during the battle, and again in 1645, on his march to Doncaster, at the head of 3000 horse, when a skirmish took place, in which the royalists defeated Sir John Gell, the leader of the parliamentarian forces in this part of the country: during his stay the king attended divine service at the church. Charles Edward Stuart, accompanied by the Dukes of Athol and Perth, on their return from Derby in 1745, remained for one night in the town, taking forcible possession of the manor-house, from which they expelled Sir Brooke Boothby and his family. On Sir Brooke's return, he found the names of the officers written in chalk upon the doors of the apartments they had severally occupied: of these inscriptions, which were overlaid with white paint, some are preserved, and the bedroom where the Pretender slept is still shown.

The Town is beautifully situated in a deep vale, near the eastern bank of the river Dove over which there is a bridge of stone: the houses are principally built of red brick, and roofed with slate; the streets are partly paved, and the inhabitants are well supplied with water and with gas. The entrance from London is highly picturesque, commanding a fine view of the beautiful vale on the left, and of Ashbourn Hall, the seat of Sir William Boothby, Bart., on the right: the vicinity abounds with pleasing and richly varied scenery. The reading and news rooms, and the libraries, are respectably supported. The manufacture of cotton and tambour lace is carried on to a considerable extent, and a great quantity of cheese and malt is sent to the metropolis and other towns; but the principal support of the town is derived from its market and numerous fairs. The market is on Saturday: the fairs are held on the first Tuesday in Jan. and on Feb. 13th, for horses and cattle; the second Monday in March, for horses, cattle, and cheese; April 3rd, May 21st, and July 5th, for horses, cattle, and wool; August 16th and Sept. 20th, for horses and cattle; the third Monday in Sept., for horses, cattle, and cheese; and Nov. 29th, for horses. The powers of the county debt-court of Ashbourn, established in 1847, extend over the greater part of the registration-district of Ashbourn; and courts leet and baron are held annually under the lord of the manor, at which constables and other officers for the town are appointed. A prison was built in 1844.

The parish comprises 7043 acres. The Living is a discharged vicarage, with the rectory of Mappleton united, valued in the king's books at £5. 4. 7.; net income, £134; patron, the Bishop of Lichfield. The church, erected in 1240 by Hugh de Patishull, Bishop of Coventry, is a spacious cruciform structure, in the early style of English architecture, with a central tower surmounted by a lofty and richly ornamented octagonal spire: the interior has lately undergone extensive repairs and embellishments. The northern part of the chancel, appropriated as a sepulchral chapel to the Boothby family, contains, among others, an exquisitely sculptured monument by Banks, to the memory of Penelope, only child of Sir Brooke Boothby, who died at the age of five years: this is said to have suggested to Chantrey the design of his celebrated monument in Lichfield cathedral. At Alsop, Clifton, and Parlich are additional churches. There are places of worship for Wesleyans, Independents, and others. The free grammar school was founded in 1585, under a charter of Queen Elizabeth, and endowed with estates purchased by the inhabitants, from the proceeds of which, £131. 10. per annum, with a house and garden, are given to the master, and £65. 15., with a house, to the usher. An English school was founded in 1710, and endowed with £10 per annum, by Nicholas Spalden, for the instruction of thirty boys, till they should be fit to enter the grammar school; he also endowed a school for thirty girls under twelve years of age, the mistress of which has £10 per annum. In addition to these, a national school is carried on; a savings' bank was erected in 1843, and there are several almshouses, founded at various periods, and some of them endowed with considerable funds. The poor-law union of Ashbourn comprises 61 parishes and townships, of which 17 are in Staffordshire. In the neighbourhood formerly stood a chapel dedicated to St. Mary, which previously to its being taken down some years ago, was used as a malt-house.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.