Ashbourne Town Walk

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ASHBOURNE TOWN WALK by John N. Merrill 2 Miles – ALLOW 2 HOURS Map – 1:25,000 Explorer Series Sheet No. 259 – Derby, Ashbourne and the Churnet Valley. Car park – Shaw Croft off Park Road – east side of town. Early Closing Day: Wednesday. Market Days: Thursday and Saturday.

ABOUT THE WALK – Ashbourne, the Gateway to Dove Dale, is one of the most historical towns of the area. Not only is it famed for its Shrovetime football match, but Church Street is the finest 18th Century street in Derbyshire. You start the walk at Shaw Croft, where the football is thrown up, before passing the birthplace of Catherine Mumford, who later became with her husband William Booth the founders of the Salvation Army. You continue on through the “village” of Compton before walking along Church Street, with its 18th Century houses, Almshouses and Old Grammar School, to the parish church. You curve back above the church to see the historic Market Place before gaining the gardens and a monument to Catherine Mumford, just before the car park.

WALKING INSTRUCTIONS – Turn right out of the car park and walk along Park Road. Turn right onto Sturston Road and right again into Compton Street. Follow this over the Henmore Brook into Dig Street. At the end turn left along Church Street on your right is the Green Man Hotel and almost ahead is Victoria Square. Follow Church Street past the Almshouses, Old Grammar School and Mansion to the parish church. Turn right and ascend the steps to Belle View Road. Turn right and follow this road to Union Street, which you keep on to the end of the Market Place. Cross Buxton Road into King Street and onto Green Lane. Turn right down the curving Cokayne Avenue. Just before reaching the library on your right, leave the road by your left and enter the memorial gardens. Follow the path through the grounds to Park Road. Cross, and almost opposite is Shaw Croft car park.

HISTORICAL NOTES IN WALKING ORDER SHROVETIDE FOOTBALL – Really a free for all between “The Up’ards and Down’ards”. The town of Ashbourne is split in half by the Henmore Brook, and depending on where you were born decides which team you are in. “The Up’ards” are born to the north of the river, and “The Down’ards” to the south. The goals are the site of Sturton Mill and Clifton Mill, three miles apart. It is rare for more than one goal to be scored! The ball is launched in the air from a special platform, with plaques,at the entrance to Shaw Croft car park. NO. 13 STURSTON ROAD – Birthplace of Catherine Mumford, who later married William Booth. They established the Salvation Army in 1878. A bust to Catherine Booth is in the Memorial Gardens, which you walk through at the end of the walk. COMPTON – The original town of Ashbourne was always to the north of the Henmore Brook. Compton on the south side was a separate village with its own market, as can be seen by the wide street. It was not until 1873 that Compton came under the jurisdiction of Ashbourne.

LLOYDS BANK – Dates from the late 18th Century, and was formerly the town house of the Beresford family of nearby Fenny Bentley. GREEN MAN HOTEL – Former coaching inn with covered court, dating from the mid-18th Century. The inn sign is one of only six left in the county; known as a gallows sign, it commemorates the amalgamation of two inns The Green Man and the Black’s Head in 1825. NO. 4 VICTORIA SQUARE – Now a butcher’s shop, but was once an inn named The Tiger. The building dates from the 16th Century, and part of its timber frame can be seen facing Tiger Yard. CLERGY WIDOWS ALMSHOUSES – Built in 1753 and founded under the Will of Nicholas Spalden “four neat and pretty houses for entertaining the widows of four clergymen of the Church of England”. Now private flats. PEGGE’S ALMSHOUSES – Built from local sandstone in 1669. OWFIELD’S ALMSHOUSES – Built in 1640, the upper storey being added in 1840 .

OLD GRAMMAR SCHOOL – Built between 1585-1610 and now used as a boys’ boarding house. The Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School was founded by Queen Elizabeth the First in 1585 and opened as a school in 1603. THE MANSION – Now used as a girls’ boarding school and dates from 1685, although altered by Robert Adam in the early 1760s. PARISH CHURCH – dedicated to St. Oswald. Often referred to as the “Pride of the Peak”, the church’s spire with offset clock is a familiar landmark. The spire is 215 feet high and weighs 300 tons. The building dates from the 13th Century and was consecrated in 1241. The interior contains a wealth of monuments to local families, such as the Knivetons, Cokaynes, Bradbournes and the Boothbys. The latter have a marble figure to Penelope Boothby, who died aged six in 1791. She is said to have been able to speak four languages, and these are inscribed on her tomb.

SPALDEN’S ALMSHOUSES – Adjoining the churchyard and founded by Nicholas Spalden, who died in 1713. The Almshouses are for married couples and were built in 1723. MARKET PLACE – The market dates from 1257 and is still held here on a Thursday and Saturday. The market type cross was built by Francis Wright (1806-1873). He lived at nearby Osmanton Manor, and was owner of the Butterley ironworks.

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© John N. Merrill 2004