Why Ashbourne needs to be your next family outing
- Credit: Ashley Franklin
Where to eat, where to visit and where Bonnie Prince Charlie once stood
Ashbourne achieves a perfect balance in everything it does. It’s a historic powerhouse and a slow meander down Market Place will offer numerous glimpses and acknowledgments of its proud past.
Its position on the southern edge of the Peak District puts it in touching distance of some of our county’s most beautiful locations; Dovedale and the Manifold Valley two examples. Indeed, Ashbourne is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Peak’ and ‘Gateway to the South’ - with the delights of South Derbyshire tantalisingly close.
The town is beautiful architecturally, with over 200 listed buildings. With fine Georgian buildings, cobbled walkways and landmarks such as St. Oswald’s Church – once described by George Eliot as the finest mere church in the kingdom – Ashbourne has a distinctive look and feel.
Traditional, independent shops are aplenty, while Ashbourne is also home to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, dating back to Tudor times.
Of course, no overview of Ashbourne would be complete without referencing the world-famous Royal Shrovetide Football Match, which takes place annually and sees the nation’s media (and masses of spectators) descend on the town as the ‘up’ards’ and ‘down’ards’ fight for the title.
Taking place every Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, this dramatic (and often brutal!) ‘football’ match has its origins back in Medieval times and has taken place in Ashbourne since at least 1667.
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The Shrovetide Song, written in 1891, aptly describes this famous annual event:
‘There’s a town still plays this glorious game, Tho’ tis but a little spot. And year by year the contest’s fought, From the field that’s called Shaw Croft.
Then friend meets friend in friendly strife, The leather for to gain, And they play the game right manfully,
In snow, sunshine or rain.
‘Tis a glorious game, deny it who can That tries the pluck of an Englishman.
For loyal the Game shall ever be, No matter when or where, And treat that Game as ought but the free, Is more than the boldest dare.
Though the up’s and down’s of its chequered life May the ball still ever roll, Until by fair and gallant strife, We’ve reached the treasur’d goal.
‘Tis a glorious game, deny it who can, That tries the pluck of an Englishman’.
It was in Ashbourne, en-route to Derby, that Charles Edward Stuart – better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie - declared his father King James III of England. The historic event took place in the town’s Market Place in 1745 as part of the ill-fated Jacobite attempt to overthrow the Hanoverian Kings. It was at this time that he stayed over at Ashbourne Hall with his troops camped in the grounds which are now Ashbourne’s town park.
Where to eat and drink:
Catering for every budget and taste, Ashbourne boasts an array of culinary options from high-end restaurants, pubs, cafes, bars, takeaways and establishments offering fresh, local produce to take home.
If you have fine dining in mind, The Lighthouse Restaurant is reviewed as five-star on Trip Advisor from over 650 reviews at the time of writing – with the restaurant priding itself on its British and European cuisine.
The Cock Inn is another with favourable online reviews, a gastro pub with a wide-ranging menu ranging from £5 to £23.
For a touch of spice, Praan Indian Restaurant, Anayas, Spice Garden and Thai Basement are all tempting options.
The Rose and Crown, Saracens Head and Bowling Green provide more traditional options while, for a lighter bite, Courtyard Café and Bistro and Bramhall’s Deli and Café may well take your fancy.
For food on the go, Ashbourne’s fish and chips options are plentiful – with Benny’s Finest Fish and Chips in the heart of the town popular.
Things to do:
The town is rightly proud of its traditional market day – which takes place in the same spot in which they first began way back in 1257. Please check Covid-19 restrictions before travelling.
If you’re a keen collector, Church Street is the place to be – housing an array of antique shops with furniture, ornaments, sculptures, paintings and more. A veritable treasure trove!