A civil servant by day who has a passion for exploring what Great Britain has to offer in my spare time.
Published October 4th 2014
Situated in North Hertfordshire approximately half way between the market towns of Baldock and Royston, Ashwell is an historical and indeed beautiful village which can trace its history to the Domesday Book of 1086 and earlier.
The easiest way to reach Ashwell is by road, either by car or bike. There is in fact a station for Ashwell and Morden on the London Kings Cross to Cambridge line operated by Great Northern. However, this is two miles from the village itself and with no pavements on the roads into Ashwell for most of the way this isn't the easiest option.
A visit to Ashwell will reward you with a plethora of historic buildings. Timber framed buildings are in abundance, some dating from the medieval and Tudor periods. In fact most architectural eras are represented in Ashwell including Georgian, Victorian as well as more recent developments. One perhaps unusual Ashwell icon is the village lock-up which was used for many years by the local Constables to lock-up anyone in the village who caused a nuisance. That was until the early 20th century when one man who found himself locked up for the night, Amo Pammeter, managed to dig his way out of the lock-up and headed home to bed! Needless to say the lock-up was never used for such purposes again.
Dominating the landscape of the village is the tower of St. Mary's church. The church is most famous for its medieval graffiti scratched into the base inside of the church tower. One magnificent piece of graffiti is that of the original St. Paul's Cathedral which was lost in the Great Fire of London. Also surviving is a bleak record to the plague which struck the village in 1350.
Perhaps unusually in the 21st century, the village retains a number of shops, businesses and community services including a village store, post office, three pubs, a bakers, butchers, and a primary school. All three pubs in the village serve food and drink which are The Bushel and Strike, The Rose and Crown and The Three Tuns so you won't go hungry or thirsty.
Ashwell has an excellent little museum on Swan Street which is housed in a Tudor half-timbered building. Started in 1930 by two school boys, the museum's collections contain many historical artefacts related to the industries and occupations of the people of the village. It's open on Sunday afternoons and Bank Holiday Mondays from 2.30pm-5pm.
Whilst you are exploring the village, I would recommend visiting the Ashwell Springs which is a site of freshwater springs and also the fabulous Ashwell Cottage Garden which is maintained by volunteers. This is an ideal spot if you want some quiet time for reflection and to be surrounded by a wonderful array of plants.
Ashwell thrives not only on its past but also on the present thanks to its devoted community. If you're looking to find that quintessentially English village, then you can't really go wrong with a visit to Ashwell.