Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for ASHFORD

ASHFORD, a town, a parish, a subdistrict, and two districts, East and West, in Kent. The town stands on the Esshe or Esshet river, the western branch of the Stour, and on the Southeastern railway, at the intersection of the line from Reigate to Folkestone with the line from Hastings to Ramsgate, 67 miles SE by E of London. It was anciently called Esshetford, from its situation on the river; and it belonged to Hugo de. Montfort, and passed to successively the Asshetfords, the Criols, the Leybornes, the Auchers, the Smyths, and the Footes. The original town is situated on an eminence, on the N bank of the river; and has a High-street, of considerable width, about ½ a mile long. A new town, called Alfred or Newtown-Ashford, was built by the railway company, adjacent to the station; and includes extensive workshops, constructed at a cost of upwards of £100,000, and about 200 dwellings and a school, used as a church. The parish church, in the old town, is a spacious structure, in fine perpendicular English built or restored by Sir John Fogge in the time of Edward IV.; comprises nave, transept, and three chancels, with a lofty tower, resembling the Bell Harry tower of Canterbury cathedral; and contains a figured font, the tomb of Sir John Fogge, a brass of the Countess of Athole of 1375, and some fine monuments of the Smyths of Westenhanger, one of whom was the Sacharissa of Waller. An ecclesiastical college was founded by Sir John Fogge as a pendant to the church; but was dissolved in the time of Henry VII. A new church, in the second pointed style, was built in the new town in 1867. Charities exist to the amount of £309; and include two public schools. There are chapels for five dissenting bodies and Roman Catholics; a police station, built in 1864; a mechanics' institution; assembly rooms, and reading room; a four-arched bridge, a market house, a corn exchange erected in 1861, a head post office,‡ in High-street, and a receiving-office,‡ 1¼ mile distant, in the new town. There is also a neat cemetery, with two chapels. A great stock market is held on the first and third Tuesdays of every mouth, and fairs, on 17 May, 9 Sept., and 12,13, and 24 Oct. There are two banking offices and two chief inns. Fine linen is manufactured; and a weekly newspaper is published. The town is one of the polling-places for the county; and is under the jurisdiction of the county magistrates. Pop., 5,522. Houses, 1,049. Wallis, the mathematician, Glover, the antiquary, and Milles, the herald, were natives. The "headstrong Kentish man" of Shakespeare also, is "John Cade of Ashford." The Osborne family, Dukes of Leeds, are said to have originated here; and the Keppels, Earls of Albemarle, take from the place the title of Baron.

The parish of Ashford comprises 2,786 acres. Real property, £27,729. Pop., 6,950. Houses, 1,311. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Canterbury. Value, £460.* Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Rochester.-The subdistrict of Ashford includes six parishes. Acres, 19,366. Pop., 9,826. Houses, 1,884.—The district of East Ashford comprehends the subdistrict of Aldington, containing the parishes of Aldington, Warehorne, Orlestone, Ruckinge, Bilsington, Bonnington, and Hurst; the subdistrict of Brabourne, containing the parishes of Brabourne, Mersham, Sevington, Willesborough, Hinxhill, Smeeth, and Bircholt; and the subdistrict of Wye, containing the parishes of Wye, Hastingleigh, Brook, Kennington, Crundale, Boughton-Aluph, Eastwell, Challock, Moldash, Chilham, and Godmersham. Acres, 54,498. Poor-rates, £8,292. Pop. in 1841, 11,530; in 1861, 12,286. Houses, 2,444. Marriages, 80; births, 396,-of which 13 were illegitimate; deaths, 233,-of which 64 were at ages under 5 years, and 10 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60,892; births, 4,141; deaths, 2,234. The places of worship in 1851 were 21 of the Church of England, with 3,911 sittings; 1 of Baptists, with 203 s.; 7 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 739 s.; and 1 of Bible Christians, with 100 s. The schools in 1851 were 17 public day schools, with 1,169 scholars; 14 private day schools, with 329 s.; and 19 Sunday schools, with 1,313 s. The workhouse is in Willesborough.—The district of West Ashford comprehends the subdistrict of Ashford, containing the parishes of Ashford, Hothfield, Bethersden, Great Chart, Kingsnorth, and Shadoxhurst; and the subdistrict of Calehill, containing the parishes of Westwell, Smarden, Egerton, Little-Chart, Charing, and Pluckley and Pevington. Acres, 41,901. Poor-rates, £7,348. Pop. in 1841, 11,329; in 1861, 15,137. Houses, 2,891. Marriages, 135; births, 533,-of which 36 were illegitimate; deaths, 315,-of which 116 were at ages under 5 years, and 13 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,085; births, 5,281; deaths, 2,820. The places of worship in 1851 were 13 of the Church of England, with 7,146 sittings; 1 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 370 s.; 5 of Baptists, with 1,395 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 150 s.; 6 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 966 s.; 1 of Bible Christians, with 115 s.; 1 undefined, with 30 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 30 attendants. The schools in 1851 were 14 public day schools, with 1,552 scholars: 19 private day schools, with 375 s.; 21 Sunday schools, with 1,422 s.; and 2 evening schools for adults, with 20 s. The workhouse is in Westwell.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Ashford AP/CP       Kent AncC
Place names: ASHFORD     |     ESSHETFORD
Place: Ashford

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.