|Ashford is an attractive and popular little village lying on the River Wye, just upstream of Bakewell. It has a long history, and from the Iron Age or earlier was one of the major crossing points on the Wye. The river and the bridges across it are major features of Ashford. Sheepwash Bridge dates from the 17th century and has a pen next to it for the purpose of washing the sheep, a practice which continued until quite recently. Downstream, Mill Bridge is dated 1664, but is newer than Sheepwash Bridge.|
The church has some parts dating from the 12th century, including a south door with its original Norman tympanium showing a tree of life in the centre with a hog and wolf facing it. There is a 14th century tower and font, but the church was heavily restored, nay rebuilt, in the 1870s, and most of the building dates from then.
An ancient local custom unique to this village was that of hanging funeral garlands from the roof of the church. Four garlands still hang there, the oldest from 1747. They were made of white paper cut to form rosettes and fixed to a wooden frame. They would then be carried before the coffin of a young virgin in the funeral procession, before being hung up.
In the church is the grave of Henry Watson (d. 1786), who was responsible for the commercial exploitation of Ashford Black Marble. Not a true marble, this impure limestone comes up an attractive shiny black colour when polished. It was quarried from Kirk Dale and Rookery Wood just outside Ashford and was used at an early date in both Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth House. Watson's invention in 1748 of machinery for cutting and polishing the marble allowed it to be mass-produced and it became very fashionable. Watson's machinery used water power from a mill on the River Wye near the foot of Kirk Dale, which closed in 1905, though the foundations may still be seen. Examples of Ashford Marble are on display in Buxton Museum.
A further 2km upstream, on the River Wye, lies the outlet for Magpie Sough, built in 1873, an impressive 2km long underground 'drain' for the Magpie mine at Sheldon. Lead mining was extremely important in this area until the end of the 19th century.
Ashford has an annual well-dressing which is held during the week of Pentecost - six weeks after Easter (usually late May/early June). There are about 6 wells to dress, and this is one of the largest such festivals.
The village has a shop and a couple of pubs.
Ashford in the Water Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Ashford Church
1 - Ashford Welldressing
2 - Ashford Welldressing
3 - Ashford - Sheepwash Bridge
Useful local links:Ashford Parish Church The website for Holy Trinity parish chu8rch, Ashford in the Water
Local places of interest
Bakewell parish church, Bakewell, Derbyshire, is built on the foundations of a Saxon church and includes some Norman sections.
Haddon Hall, a medieval manor house and home of the Dukes of Rutland, the Manners family, formerly home of the Vernons, in the Peak District by the River Wye near Bakewell, Derbyshire.
The Magpie Mine, just South of Sheldon, was one of the most famous lead mines in the Derbyshire Peak District and was worked until the 1950s. Many of the buildings still stand.
Monsal Head, a famous Derbyshire Peak District beauty spot with a magnificent view down Monsal Dale and up the Wye valley.
Old House Museum, Bakewell
The Old House Museum, Bakewell, Derbyshire, has a small exhibition of local life and artefacts, housed in a typical yeoman's house of the 16th century.
Youlgrave or Youlgreave Church, Derbyshire, is one of the finest churches in the Peak District. The tombs of Thomas Cockayne, Sir John Rossington and Roger Rooe are especially fine.