Ashford has been around for certain since 1066 when it was called Aisseford in the Domesday Book. The name means “the ford of the ash”. The manor, including surrounding areas, was given to a Welsh prince by King John as a bribe for getting his support. By 1408 it was back in the hands of royalty and then became the property of the Neville family.
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North of the church the family built a hunting lodge called Hall Orchard. It has long since disappeared. In 1550 the Neville family sold out to Sir William Cavendish who, along with his successors (earls and dukes of Devonshire), held on to the land for 300 years. Most of the Cavendish family lived at Churchdale Hall, established in 1336. Ashford has two medieval bridges over the River Wye.
In 1631 children were able to attend a free grammar school. In 1880 a Church of England school took its place. In 1748 marble works were established in the village and continued in operation until the end of the 19th century. Ashford Hall dates from 1772, and Thornbridge Hall is Victorian.
There were three chapels—Baptist, Unitarian, and Wesleyan—in the village in the 1800s but today only Holy Trinity Church remains. Holy Trinity Church probably sits on the same site as a Saxon church. A Norman building of worship was erected in the late 1100s and encompassed a nave, short chancel, and tower. The tower is little changed today. The north aisle was a 14th century addition. The original north wall of the church was replaced with the arches and pillars still existing.
In 1869 restoration took place due to foundation problems. Walls needed rebuilding. There was a gallery at the back of the church dating from 1755. In 1894 further repair and restoration took place. Ashford observes the Derbyshire Peak District custom of well dressing. This occurs on Trinity Sunday. It used to include a fair and other celebrations.
Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire, is located at the junctions of the A6/A6020/B6465
Photos © by Barbara Ballard and courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows: sheepwash bridge by David Goodwin; well dressing by George Mahoney