A planned Anglo-Saxon town, Ashwell has a range of vernacular buildings which are dominated by the impressive 14th century St Mary’s Church. A market town at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086 the street pattern still indicates where the market place was. During the medieval period the village stagnated and is one of the reasons for the wealth of timber-framed buildings to be found when walking down the High Street.
Today the village is home to about 1,700 people and is a hub of activity. The shops and services cater of most daily needs and include a small supermarket, a butcher, a baker, a chemist, a post office, hairdressers, an estate agent and a florist. There is a doctor’s surgery and a dental surgery. Spiritual needs are catered for by a church, two chapels and three pubs.
Cultural life is active. Ashwell Festival caters for music although there are concerts at other times of the year, Seven Springs Gallery, in its new premises, provides exhibitions of painting, pottery, prints and sculpture. Ashwell Village Museum is a place to see artefacts, photographs and documents relating to the history of the settlement, while Ashwell Education Services provides research into the history of the parish and people who lived in it. Ashwell Primary School enrols children not only from Ashwell but also the neighbouring villages. Ashwell Playgroup and Ashwell Toddler Groups cater for those too young for school. Besides these there are a number of active societies which flourish: the Women’s Institute, Ashwell Theatre Club, Ashwell Horticultural Society, 4th Thursday Club, St. Mary’s Church Choir, Cub Scouts, Girl Guides and Brownies.
For those interested in sport there are cricket, football, tennis, and badminton clubs. Ashwell Show, on August Bank holiday, not only allow some to qualify for the Horse of the Year show and for Crufts but also provides pleasure for thousands and much appreciated donations to local worthy causes. Ashwell at Home, on a Sunday in mid-May, raises money for the museum, school and church restoration fund. On this is a day gardens, shops and businesses are open to the public for a small charge.