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Ashbourne in 1833

ASHBORNE (or, as it is written in ancient records, ESSEBURNE, ASHBURNE, and ASHBOURNE), a considerable market-town, in a rich valley not far from the east or left bank of the river Dove, which falls into the Trent. Ashbourne is 139 miles from London and thirteen from Derby. The population in 1831 was 2,246, and the number of houses, including two which were building and twenty-seven uninhabited, was 502.

It is pleasantly situated. High hills shelter it from the cold winds of the north ; and to the south-west it looks towards the valley mentioned above, where the Dove winds through some of the richest meadows in the kingdom.

The church is in the form of a cross, with a tower rising from the centre, surmounted by a fine spire. The building was probably erected in 1241, as there is a memorial in brass of its dedication to St. Oswald in that year. It is in the early English style, and there are several good door-ways. The walls and buttresses retain the characteristics of this early architecture ; but several parts of the church are of later date, and of the decorated English or perpendicular styles.

It contains many monuments of the Cokaine and Boothby families, especially a beautiful monument by Banks to the memory of Penelope, daughter of Sir Brooke Boothby, who died in 1791, at the early age of six years. The figure of the child asleep, in white marble, has been much admired.

There was formerly a presbyterian meeting-house in Ashborne ; and at present there are two places of worship, one for the General or Arminian Baptists, and one for the Wesleyan Methodists ; as well as one for the Calvinistic Methodists (or Lady Huntingdon’s connexion), in the suburb of Compton, anciently Campdene, which is separated from the town on the south side by the rivulet Henmore, or Schoo.

There is at Ashborne a grammar-school founded by Sir Thomas Cokaine and others in 1585 : and a Mr. Spalden, who lived in the beginning of the 18th century, by his will (dated 1710), founded two elementary schools, one for thirty boys, and the other for the same number of girls. There are several almshouses in the town, which owe their origin to different benevolent individuals, especially to Mr. Spalden above-mentioned ; and to Mr. John Cooper, who built at his own charge the Calvinistic methodists chapel in Compton, and also built and endowed an almshouse adjoining to it.

The market is on Saturday, for corn and provisions. There are no less than eight fairs, all for horses, horned cattle, and sheep : wool is sold at the fair in July, which is considered the smallest fair in the year. Ashborne does not seem to possess any particular manufacture, unless it be of lace : but there are iron and cotton factories in the neighbourhood. The chief trade is in cheese and malt.

The parish is very large, and extends into three hundreds or wapentakes : viz., Wirksworth wapentake (in which is the town), Appletree hundred, and Morleston and Litchurch hundred. It has three dependent parochial chapelries, viz., Alsop-in-the-Dale, Hognaston, and Parwick.

The population of the parish, including that of the town(as given above), and of the chapelries, was in 1831, 5,699, and the whole area was 16,490 acres (in the returns of 1831 the chapelries of Hognaston and Parwick are given as distinct from the parish of Ashborne.)

The living is a vicarage, of which the Dean of Lincoln is patron. The rectory of Mapleton is annexed to it. The rectory of Ashborne was granted by William II (Rufus) to the church of St. Mary in Lincoln, and to the bishop of that see and his successors : but by some arrangement at a remote period, it was attached to the deanery of that see ; and is now leased out by the dean. Ashborne is in the archdeaconry of Derby and the diocese of Litchfield and Coventry.

Ashborne was the scene of some contests during the war between Charles I and the Parliament. In February 1644, the troops of the latter were victorious over the royalists. The young Pretender passed through Ashborne in his retreat from Derby, in 1745.