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Ashbourne c.1050: where paths cross, and people have gathered for a thousand years

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Discover Ashbourne

Ashbourne is not only a unique place to live, but also a special town to visit; to experience the shopping and cafe culture, the intriguing history, stunning architecture and outstanding countryside in the heart of the Peak District, with an abundance of local amenities as well as its marked proximity to exceptional visitor attractions across the Midlands. Ashbourne has a lot to offer residents and visitors alike – why not come and experience it for yourself?

Ashbournes culture and community

where to find Ashbourne

Ashbourne evolved as a market town in the Derbyshire Dales, England, at the centre of the country nestled in beautiful countryside with easy access to a multitude of amenities and tourist destinations.

Ashbourne is situated near the southern edge of the Peak District known for its stunning beauty and incredible walking, with tourism being an important part of the economy. The town has many historic buildings, a wealth of independent shops and Ashbourne's proximity to Dovedale and the Tissington Trail offers further popular recreational walk and cycle paths, which follow the course of the Dove valley and the former Ashbourne to Buxton railway

The annual Shrovetide football match takes place Ashbourne every spring and is an important part of the history and heritage of the people of Ashbourne. The popular theme park Alton Towers, Carsington Water, offering a range of watersports and Peak Wildlife Park family zoo are all within a few miles radius of the town. 

The visitor information centre situated in the town hall has comprehensive information on all that the town and the surrounding area has to offer.

Where to find Ashbourne

Ashbourne is situated in the Derbyshire Dales, near the centre of England, nestled in beautiful countryside on the edge of the Peak District.  It is close to a multitude of amenities and tourist destinations and has easy access to the motorway network.

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Ashbournes culture and shopping experience

Ashbourne's unique shopping, dining, and coffee shop culture

The cobbled market place makes a charming, historic centre to the town surrounded by a latticework of streets where shopping is a pleasure with many small, family-run businesses and an open-air market.

Ashbourne is known for its fine antiques, designer fashion and jewellery, gift and flower shops, hair and beauty, traditional butchers and fish mongers and much more. Then it’s time to relax with quality food and drink; morning coffee, lunch or afternoon tea in a selection of cafés, pubs, tea rooms and restaurants.

Ashbourne became the 97th Fairtrade Town in March 2005 after many businesses, cafes, shops and community organisations started supporting Fairtrade, which guarantees a minimum price to farmers in the developing world and allows them to invest in community development. For more information visit www.ashbournefairtrade.org.uk

The town has a healthy business economy with many new companies in town as well as thriving industries largely located within the old airfield on the outskirts of the town.

SHOPPING IN Ashbourne

Ashbourne has a thriving independent retail community with traditional butchers, bakers, greengrocers and hardware stores alongside high end boutiques, bespoke jewellers, galleries and gift shops to name just a few. The cobbled market place forms a bustling, historic centre to the town and is surrounded by a latticework of streets where shopping is pure pleasure.

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Ashbournes rich history

Ashbournes History

The main architectural interest in Ashbourne, with the focal point being Church Street, with its fine Georgian houses, old grammar school with its impressive Grade I listed facade, almshouses and St Oswalds Church

The church is one of Derbyshire’s treasures, named after St Oswald, a popular Anglo Saxon saint, its tower and 212ft spire dominate the town’s skyline. 

Ashbourne is famous for its Gingerbread, the original recipe acquired from French prisoners of war who were kept in the town during the Napoleonic wars (1799-1815). 

The timber-framed Gingerbread Shop - now a Bakery - can be seen in St John Street where the Original Ashbourne Gingerbread can still be bought.

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide was born in 1667 and the football match takes place annually. Shrovetide is a big part of Ashbourne's history and culture.

Ashbourne History & ARCHITECTURE

Ashbourne's medieval architecture of yards and alleyways, Church Street, with its fine Georgian houses, the old Elizabethan grammar school with its splendid Grade I listed facade, the almshouses and St Oswalds Church all combine to make Ashbourne a noted destination for lovers of architectural history.

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Ashbournes culture and community

Ashbourne's Culture and community

Ashbourne’s identity is defined by its unique culture and community. It is forward-thinking, vibrant and active in many areas with an ever-developing infrastructure.

Ashbourne’s art scene is led by the annual Arts Festival. The event has thrived and has grown from a 10 day event in 2000 to an event which now hosts more than 40 events and exhibitions over 17 days which include an art exhibition and workshops, poetry, drama, open air opera, jazz and classical concerts, writing workshops and much more. There is always original art as well as creative workshops to be found in a selection of pop up venues and art galleries around the town.

In 2004 a new leisure centre was opened offering more amenities for both young and elderly including a swimming pool, badminton and squash courts and a wealth of fitness classes and sports clubs. 

The secondary school is Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, founded in 1585, originally on Church Street near St Oswald’s Church. Across the road is 17th century Mansion House where Dr Samuel Johnson, noted lexicographer and traveller, frequently stayed with his friend Dr John Taylor.

Ashbourne's CAFE Culture and community

Ashbourne is forward-thinking, vibrant and active with an ever-developing business and residential infrastructure supported by first class schools and all the services that a modern town needs including a committed network of voluntary groups, sporting clubs and cultural societies.

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Discover Ashbourne's
directory

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Discover what's on in Ashbourne

Whether you live in Ashbourne or are a visitor, our what's on page is the best place to find out everything that's happening in and around Ashbourne.
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Enjoy a leisurely shop with
Free parking
This december
After 2pm
In council car parks

Discover Ashbourne's Attractions

A few of the many things to do in Ashbourne.

The Tissington Trail

The Tissington Trail is one of Ashbourne’s major tourist attractions. This recreational trail starts by the leisure center in the town center, heads through a 353m tunnel, and continues for more than 13 miles up onto the high moorlands, following the route of the former Ashbourne to Buxton railway line. The former stations of Mapleton, Thorpe, Tissington, Alsop, Hartington, and Parsley Hay are now converted into car parks, some also with a cafe & toilets. The route is suitable for cyclists and walkers of all abilities and is also wheelchair and pushchair friendly. The first couple of miles between Ashbourne and Thorpe are often thronged with families, so walkers and cyclists need to take special care in this area. Please see the directory for bike hire information.

The Recreation Grounds

Bordering the countryside east of Ashbourne, the recreation grounds are a place to play and relax without straying too far from the town center. On the corner of Cokayne Avenue and Park Road, you will find the impressive sandstone gateway to the park, comprising a classical arch with pillars and fluted columns, welcoming visitors to the ornate formal gardens planted in memory of Ashbourne’s war casualties. To the north of the gardens, there is a statue of the Salvation Army co-founder, Catherine Booth, who was born in the town. There is a bandstand in the middle(currently closed for refurbishment) and an adventure playground for children. The Henmore Brook flows through the park giving lots of opportunities to spot wildlife on Fishpond Meadow.‍

The Gingerbread Shop

The Gingerbread shop was built around 1492, the building is believed to have been an Inn until the period of the Napoleonic Wars when it became a bakery. It is the spiritual home of Ashbourne Gingerbread. Local legend is that the recipe for this gingerbread was given to an Ashbourne baker by a French prisoner of war, billeted in Ashbourne during the Napoleonic Wars; and you can still buy local gingerbread in the bakery to this day.

St Oswalds Church

The church is named after Oswald of Northumbria with a brass plaque in the chapel on the south side of the church commemorating its dedication on 24 April 1241. Its 212-foot spire presides over the town and was referred to by George Eliot as the "finest single spire in England". It replaced an earlier Saxon church and construction is believed to have started in 1240, probably lasting until the early 14th century. The church is listed as a Grade I building. Impressive stained glass windows adorn the church including a Christopher Whall window dated 1905 with chapels containing historic funerary & monuments which have contributed greatly to the church's renown.

Queen Elizabeth grammar school

Ashbourne’s Queen Elizabeth Grammar School is believed to be one of the oldest schools in the country. It was established under a Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I following a 1583 petition by Sir Thomas Cokayne (1520-1592) for a free school in Ashbourne, on the grounds that the lack of education meant people were“given over to wickedness and vices”. Construction started in 1585 on Church Street, as close to St. Oswald’s Church as possible, and was finally completed in 1608 with Sir Thomas Cokayne as one of the governors. The original building is now a grade 1 listed private residence, with the school moving to its current site on Green Road in 1909. For much of the 20th century, the school was a selective mixed grammar but has now morphed into an Academy, open to all abilities. It continues to expand and develop, providing ever more impressive opportunities for today's students.

Ashbourne historical gas outlet from 1864

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Ashbourne c.1050: an ancient town where paths have crossed and people have gathered for a thousand years.

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