Ashby de la Zouch: 'A Thriving, Historical, Picturesque Place - With A Great Community'

By Graham Hill

26th Jan 2020 | Local News

Photo: www.english-heritage.org.uk
Photo: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Ashby Nub News is now two months old - and thanks to all those who have supported us so far. To mark the occasion, we wanted to write an article that celebrated all things Ashby de la Zouch.

We recently asked you to describe the town in three words and got a great response.

Some of those comments have been included here along with the views of Ashby's Mayor Graham Allman.

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Ashby de la Zouch is a town with an historic past - and a future as the 'jewel in the crown' of the National Forest.

It is a name to conjure with and once inspired a song called Ashby de la Zouch by the Sea - even though you would have to travel a long way to find a beach.

Only this week, BBC Radio 5 presenter Nicky Campbell wondered on the air about the town and what it was like.

Okay Nicky, this is why you should pay a visit. It is a town that has the been around for centuries and has plenty to offer newcomers.

Just one look at scenic Market Street, the heart of the town, would be like stepping back in time were it not for the busy main road that runs straight through Ashby.

Such is its appeal that it was nominated in the 2019 Great British High Street Awards.

And from this point, the town has attractions old and new.

A short walk away is Ashby Castle - built in the 12th century and best known for being featured in featured in the novel Ivanhie by Sir Walter Scott in 1819.

Ivanhoe is a name you will see featured throughout the town, from the local college to the football club.

And because of its heritage, Ashby will often crop up in those 'best places to live in Britain' style surveys.

The extensive Bath Grounds and Hood Park are two open spaces that exist on either side of the town centre.

It is a place where people want to come and live. And, for that reason, is expanding to meet those demands.

But these days, Ashby has a new role with the National Forest - and the tourism that comes with it - surrounding it.

Forward thinking local dignitaries want to make the most of this and label Ashby as a 'Forest Town' and a part of the area that should not be ignored.

And with a name like that,  it is hard to. Why is it called that? It dates from the years after the Norman conquest of England, when Ashby became a possession of the La Zouche family during the reign of Henry III.

Some of the local hostelries are sure to date back to those times. The White Hart, The Bull's Head (or just The Bull) and The Lamb are all a throwback to olden days.

The Hart was used for bear baiting and bear pit can still be seen inside a pub which once counted notorious highwayman Dick Turpin as one of its regular visitors.

Another institution is the Ashby Statutes, an annual fairground that takes over Market Street in is entirety during mid-September.

We asked our readers to pick three words that best described the town and these are some of the things they had to say.

Diane Clinch: Historical, Welcoming, Chameleon

Martin C Hughes: Historical, Traditional, Friendly.

Andy Insley: Just love it

Helen Randall: Beautiful, classy and unpretentious

Tasha Sherlock: Picturesque, community, (great) location

Graham Allman is the Mayor of Ashby and has lived in Ashby for around 35 years and he says the town has grown and the Town Council is pro-active.

"We've had the Purple Flag award for the night time economy for the third year, they were very impressed. And of course we were a finalist in the Great British High Street awards which its one of the jewels in the crown of Ashby because of the quality of its main street," said the Mayor.

"It's local people doing good, and that makes for a great community. The growth of this town is something like 68 per cent over the past few years and the next couple. That's massive.

"When I first visited Ashby from Birmingham, I thought 'I'd love to live here' and I did and became Mayor, a bit of a Dick Whittington story.

The Mayor says the tourism side of the town is important to Ashby.

"We have some wonderful tourist spots like the castle which is a wonderful place to be," he added.

"And look at Market Street itself with its black and white frontages, it's one of the most delightful in the country and the symbol of what Ashby's all about.

"The Castle and the Bath Grounds come off it.

'The individual traders do a marvellous job.

"Look at the leisure centre, which has had a £1million redevelopment, and Hood Park is a glorious open air space for the public to use. Plus there's the Heart of the Forest sculpture.

"The town is thriving in my opinion, and that's reflected in the amount of people who want to come and live here."

     

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