Ashford's Famous Faces
Ashford has been home to many a famous historical figure during its long history. From authors, poets, mathematicians and architects, all have left their mark on the town's past. Below are some of the most famous residents and visitors:
Renowned philosopher Simone joined the French Resistance, and later succumbed to tuberculosis in Ashford after refusing to eat more food than the residents of Occupied France received. She is buried in the Old Ashford Cemetery and is known today as one of the most globally-influential writers on religion.
The local author of The War of the Worlds is mostly known for science-fiction, but in his fantasy story Mr Skelmersdale in Fairyland, Aldington Knoll in Ashford reveals its secret – it’s a home of elves!
With her brother Edward having the sense (and sensibility) to live in nearby Godmersham Park, Jane was a frequent visitor to assembly balls in the town’s Saracen’s Head coaching inn.
Best known for gripping thrillers, Forsyth grew up in his parents' North Street furrier shop with the Battle of Britain raging above. After becoming the youngest pilot in the RAF, Forsyth joined Reuters as a war correspondent before writing bestselling novel The Day of the Jackal.
A Cavalier poet and member of the Lovelace family of Bethersden, he gave Ashford its motto 'With Stronger Faith'. Coming from the 1649 poem 'To Lucasta, Going to the Warres', it was chosen to represent the determination of the borough.
Fans of the TV series The Darling Buds of May will recognise Buss Farm as the home of Pop Larkin. Bates lived in Little Chart and, whilst visiting the village shop in neighbouring Pluckley, came across 'in high spirits, a remarkable family' – the inspiration for the lovably roguish Larkin clan.
Noted architect Stephen Hills, who was born in Ashford in 1771 and emigrated to America, designed the original Pennsylvania State Capitol building.
Dr. John Wallis
Mathematician John Wallis, who is given partial credit for the development of infinitesimal calculus, was born in College Court in 1616, his father being the Vicar of St. Mary's. He served as chief cryptographer for parliament and the royal court between 1643 and 1689 and is credited with introducing the symbol for infinity!
Immortalised in the musical 'Annie Get your Gun', American sharpshooter Annie Oakley stayed at the 'Royal Oak' hotel in the Lower High Street where she gave shooting displays to the public.
Sir Norton Knatchbull
A member of parliament for Ashford during the reign of Charles I, he founded Ashford's first grammar school which is still in existence today, though it has since moved from its town centre location which now houses the Ashford Borough Museum.