no ordinary village
A large parish of 5,020 acres, steeped in history and set within the rolling hills of the boulder clays of NE Essex yet hard on the boundaries of both Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Through the centre runs the Bourne, a small stream fed from field ditches & springs – joining the Granta further downstream, flowing through Cambridge, on to the Ouse. Much of the land is arable farming though pockets of the once extensive woodland still exist. Artifacts from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages have been found in the Parish together with traces of Roman buildings.
The once self-sufficient, rural, farming based and close-knit community has changed dramatically over the last few years modern communications both attracting many commuters and changing the leisure and working habits of generations. The recent closure of the village shop / post office has been a serious community loss.
Fortunately the village still enjoys a good, lively community spirit with plenty of activities for those who wish to get involved in village life.
The former National School, opposite the driveway to the Parish Church, opened in 1847. Later it became the Parish Church Sunday School but is now used for light industrial purposes. The current primary school for children stands in the middle of the village and was opened in 1878. Extended and modernised this school currently draws pupils from Ashdon & surrounding villages. Children from 11-18 attend Saffron Walden County High or Linton Village College
The Village Hall. The thatched portion, the former Conservative Club, was generously donated to the village in March 1989. The attached brick building, the 'White Horse Pub' before it became the caretakers house, was purchased on behalf of the village at the same time and has now been converted in offices. An impressive and tasteful extension was added in 1996. This excellent facility, set right at the heart of the village, is in use almost every day by many organisations including the WEA, Indoor Bowls, Gardening Club, Brownies and many private functions.
The Guildhall. First mentioned in the entry for the court roll for the manor of Ashdon Hall in 1518. Serving as the Parish 'Town House' by the middle 1600's then divided into several tenements in the early 1700's. In 1775 it became the parish Workhouse then was turned into a communal dwelling for the poor a few years later. Extensive repairs were carried out in 1843 and again in 1955 since when it has been a privately owned family house.
The village centre showing the former PO Stores - sadly together with the butchers, bakers & petrol station now closed. The early 17thC. 'Rose & Crown' - the only remaining public house (4 others have closed during the last 40 years). Buses, running from Haverhill through SaffronWalden to Audley End railway station, pick up passengers here. The branch railway running between Audley End, Saffron Walden, Ashdon Halt to Bartlow with was closed down in May 1964. (opened 22.10.1866).
Goldstones Farm - A large farmhouse dating back to c.1600. Bought by F.M.Furze in 1910 the house is now occupied and the land farmed by a 3rd generation son.Farming was once the life blood of the village. Of Ashdon's former 31 farms only a few remain as working units the land from the others having been bought out to make larger holdings. The old farmhouses and their converted barns now make desirable residences for those who can afford them.
The Parish Church - most of the building standing today dating to between 1370 & 1420 though it is probable that an earlier church stood on this site. Records of Rectors date back to c.1180. The Baptist Chapel completed in 1835 but the fellowship was founded in 1809 meeting in a barn next to Jesters Cottage near the village centre. Marpa House Buddhist retreat was previously a residential home for orphaned boys
Bragg's Mill - c.1757 A post mill sited at the end of Mill Lane and used for grinding local corn until the early part of the 1900's - this picture was taken in 1958. A major restoration project is almost complete. This admirable work has been achieved through the 'Friends of Ashdon Mill', (a Charitable Trust) At least two other windmills and other small watermills once stood in Ashdon.
Cricket! No English village is complete without it! Ashdon play on the lovely setting at Waltons Park. Ashdon Villa Football Club - come on the lads! have an excellent pitch with floodlighting facilities for evening training. For those preferring slightly less energetic activity the Footpaths Association take a weekly stroll along the superb network of footpaths that criss-cross the Parish ensuring that these are kept open for future generations to enjoy. Of recent years a cycling group has been established.
Books about Ashdon
‘Ashdon’ by Angela Green – pub. by Angela Green. Detailed, historical research from many sources
‘Annals of Ashdon’ by Professor Robert Gibson – pub. by Essex Record Office. Interviews with local residents (many now dead) interlaced with historical data.
‘Reuben’s Corner’ by Spike Mays – pub. E&S. Boyhood reminiscences laced with a more than a dash (or two) of artistic licence but vividly catching the flavour of village life during the early 1900’s.
.‘Five Miles from Bunkum’ by Chris Ketteridge & Spike May – pub. Methuen. Collective memories of village crafts and characters in the early 1900’s.