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The History of Ashwell

Medieval times to Present Day
Anglo-Saxon to Medieval times
Prehistoric to Roman Times

Medieval times to the Present Day

From 1350 to the early part of the nineteenth century it would seem that Ashwell stagnated.  It was during this period that the flourishing market declined, so that by 1799 there was no longer an official market, although the last reference that can be found to a market existing is in 1862.  It was during this period that Ashwell must have come to rely on agriculture as a source of income.  Even so it was still near enough to London for those who could afford it to move into the country and yet be near enough to town when needed.

The nineteenth century saw some changes, with the growth of three industries, brewing, coprolite digging and straw plaiting.  As in most of England the population of the village grew during this period, reaching a high of 1,576 people in 1871, a size which was not overtaken until 1981 when 1,612 were recorded in the annual census.  After 1871 the population held steady for two decades but declined between 1891 and 1901, when they stopped digging coprolites and the straw plait was not needed as much in Luton.  In the twentieth century the two breweries closed - Pages in 1919 and Fordhams in 1966.

Fordhams Brewery

In the latter part of the twentieth century changes in transport have brought a different life into the community.  The motor car and rail travel mean that people can live in Ashwell but work elsewhere.  These changes also bring traffic speeding through the village and parked cars fill the roads.  But the village is a thriving, active community, where often it is difficult to find a night to hold a meeting or activity as there is likely to be something else already taking place.

This history and illustrations of the village of Ashwell is from Snippets of Ashwell’s History by David Short, illustrated by Phil Collins and published by Ashwell Education Services.