Ashover in 1833
ASHOVER, a town in Derbyshire, pleasantly situated in a deep narrow valley, watered by the river Amber, six miles S.W. of Chesterfield, which is the post town, and four from Matlock. It has a small market, frequented during the winter by a few butchers; and two fairs for horned cattle and sheep. As the market is so insignificant and irregular, and is moreover held without charter (as are also the fairs), it is commonly regarded as a village : but Messrs. Lysons (Magna Britannia) reckon it among the market-towns. Stocking-weaving and tambour-working give employment to some of the inhabitants.
The church is a Gothic building with a handsome spire, and contains several monuments of the Babington and other families. There is in it a singular ancient leaden font, hexagonal in the lower part, but in the upper part circular, and ornamented with rudely executed figures in bas-relief, with flowing drapery, and books in their left hands, standing under circular or Norman arches and separated by slender pillars. There is an endowed school, with a school-house built in 1703 ; also meeting-houses for the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists.
The parish of Ashover is extensive, containing 11,290 acres, and has a population of 3,179. It is mostly in the hundred of Scarsdale ; but the dependent hamlets of Dethwick, Lea, and Holloway, are in the wapentake of Wirksworth. The living is a rectory in the archdeaconry of Derby, and the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry. Dethwick is a chapelry. There are in the parish considerable lead-mines, especially those of Gregory, Brimstone Dyke, and Overton. Blende, or black jack, an inferior species of zinc ore, is found. Limestone is quarried in great quantity, also coarse grindstones, and whetstones of a finer grain. Ochre is found in some of the mines. Chamomile is cultivated for medicinal purposes in considerable quantities ; and valerian, elecampane, and roses (the last for the leaves), to a smaller extent.
There are remains of Eastwood Hall, once the residence of the Reresby family, and a structure of some importance, as appears from its massive masonry. It is a gloomy building, with a modern dwelling attached to its shattered walls, standing at the foot of a high hill, which is covered with huge masses of sandstone rock, and crowned with a. pine forest. At Overton in this parish is a house which was the property and occasionally the residence of the late Sir Joseph Banks.
At Lea, in this parish, are the ruins of an ancient chapel ; also a Unitarian chapel, a cotton mill, and a hat manufactory (Lea Wood).
On the declivity of a hill on Ashover common is a rocking stone twenty-six feet in circumference, called by the country people Robin Hoods Mark ; and near this a singularly-shaped rock, supposed to have been a rock idol.