Extract from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Transcribed by Mel Lockie, © Copyright 2010
Lewis Topographical Dictionaries

ASHBOURN, a parish, county of DERBY, comprising the market town of Ashbourn, the chapelry of Alsop le Dale, the township of Eaton, and the liberties of Newton-Grange, and Offcoat with Underwood, in the hundred of WIRKSWORTH, the townships of Hulland and Hulland-Ward-Intacks, and the hamlets of Hulland-Ward, Sturston, and Yeldersley, in the hundred of APPLETREE, and the chapelry of Clifton, and the hamlet of Compton, in that of MORLESTON and LITCHURCH, county of DERBY, and containing 4708 inhabitants, of which number, 2188 are in the town of Ashbourn, 13 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. In 1644, a battle was fought here between the royalists and the parliamentarians, in which the former 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 thirty thousand men, when he 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 which they had severally occupied: of these inscriptions, which were overlaid with white paint, some are preserved, and the bed-room in which the Pretender slept is still shewn.

The town is beautifully situated in a deep vale, on 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. 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 markets and numerous fairs. The market is on Saturday: fairs are held on the first Tuesday in January, and February the 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 September 20th, for horses and cattle; the third Monday in September, for horses, cattle, and cheese; and November 29th, for horses.

Ashbourn is in the honour of Tutbury, duchy of Lancaster, and within the jurisdiction of a court of pleas held at Tutbury every third Tuesday, for the recovery of debts under 40s. Courts leet and baron are held annually under the lord of the manor, at which constables and other officers for the town are appointed. The house of correction was capable of containing forty prisoners, but, as it would not admit of their classification, they are now sent to Derby, and the building has been converted into a poor-house.

The living is a discharged vicarage, with the perpetual curacy of Mappleton united, in the archdeaconry of Derby, and diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, rated in the king's books at £5. 4. 7, endowed with £600 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Dean of Lincoln. The church, dedicated to St. Oswald, is a spacious cruciform edifice, having, a central tower surmounted by a lofty and highly ornamented octagonal spire: it was erected in 1240, by Hugh de Patishull, Bishop of Coventry, and displays the early English style, intermixed with decorations of a later period: the northern part of the chancel, appropriated as a sepulchral chapel to the Boothby family, contains, among others, an exquisitely finished monument, from the chisel of Banks, to the memory of Penelope, only child of Sir Brooke Boothby, who died at the age of five years, which is said to have suggested to Chantrey the design of his celebrated monument in Lichfield cathedral.

There are places of worship for Baptists, Wesleyan Methodists, and those in the late Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, which last was built by Mr. John Cooper, in 1800, who endowed it with £42 per annum. The free grammar school was founded in 1585, under a charter of Queen Elizabeth, and endowed with estates purchased by the inhabitants, now producing £210 per annum, two-thirds of which, with a house and garden, are given to the master, and the remainder, with a house, to the usher: the management is vested in three governors and twelve assistants. The English school was founded in 1710, and endowed with £10 per annum, by Mr. 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.

Almshouses for four widows of Protestant clergymen, and ten almshouses in the churchyard, for poor persons of the parish, were founded and endowed by the same benevolent individual. Eight almshouses were founded by Mr. R. Owfield, in 1610, the completion and endowment of which was effected by the subsequent benefactions of various individuals; six by Mr. Pegg, in 1668, to which Mr. Jeremiah Pole bequeathed an estate; and six by Mr. John Cooper, which he endowed with £63 per annum, for poor people attending Lady Huntingdon's chapel, all which have subsequently received divers benefactions. In the neighbourhood formerly stood a chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, which, previously to its being taken down, several years ago, was used as a malt-house.

Dovedale, in the adjoining parish of Tissington, abounds with pleasingly picturesque and strikingly romantic scenery: the entrance is progressively marked with features of simple beauty, impressive grandeur, and terrific awe. Thorpe Cloud on the right, and a towering pile of massive rocks on the left, form natural ramparts of majestic elevation, between which the river Dove winds through the vale with varied course, sometimes rushing with tumultuous effort along the bases of stupendous cliffs, its stream darkened by the threatening precipices which impend above it, and at others expanding into a smooth and placid surface, reflecting, with softened beauty and milder lustre, the luxuriant verdure of its wood-crowned banks. At various intervals, rude masses of grotesque form, which have been fancifully denominated my Lady's Chair, Dovedale Castle, the Church, the Twelve Apostles, the Lion's Head, the Sugar Loaves, and the Lover's Leap, rise in succession throughout this enchanting dale, in which the simpler and the sublimer beauties of nature, in all their variety, are richly and strikingly combined.

NEWTON-GRANGE, a liberty in that part of the parish of ASHBOURN which is in the hundred of WIRKSWORTH, county of DERBY, 4 miles (N. by W.) from Ashbourn, containing 38 inhabitants.

OFFCOAT, a liberty, joint with Underwood, in that part of the parish of ASHBOURN which is in the hundred of WIRKSWORTH, county of DERBY, containing, with Underwood, 341 inhabitants. It is in the honour of Tutbury, duchy of Lancaster, and within the jurisdiction of a court of pleas held at Tutbury every third Tuesday, for the recovery of debts under 40s.

STURSTON, a hamlet in that part of the parish of ASHBOURN which is in the hundred of APPLETREE, county of DERBY, 1 mile (E.) from Ashbourn, containing 561 inhabitants.

UNDERWOOD, a liberty, joint with Offcoat, in that part of the parish of ASHBOURN which is in the hundred of WIRKSWORTH, county of DERBY. The population is returned with Offcoat.

YELDERSLEY, a hamlet in that part of the parish of ASHBOURN which is in the hundred of APPLETREE, county of DERBY, 3 miles (E.S.E.) from Ashbourn, containing 202 inhabitants.

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