History and Heritage
Ashford is a borough rich in heritage, both natural and built. With 2,395 listed buildings, 42 scheduled monuments, 43 conservation areas, 6 registered parks and gardens, and 2 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), it boasts the most combined heritage assets compared with any other borough in Kent.
With evidence of settlement dating back to the prehistoric times, Ashford’s history spans several millennia. First recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as having a church, two mills and 21 ‘households’ – large by medieval standards – Ashford was well on its way to becoming the large and diverse borough it is today.
The geographical position of Ashford has long been a dominant factor in its history and development. From the Roman crossroads settlement of Westhawk Farm, the drovers’ routes of the early medieval period, to the high speed national and international railway lines of today, the location of the borough at strategic communication routes has been instrumental in shaping its history. In such a rural landscape, farming and industries associated with the land have had a significant influence on Ashford’s heritage, especially the market and the railway.
Ashford Heritage Strategy
The Ashford Heritage Strategy (AHS) seeks to safeguard and enhance the borough’s cultural heritage assets in a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment. Setting out a series of aims and objectives to safeguard assets, increase visibility and sustainably manage and develop the borough’s offer, the strategy also provides an evidence base for the Local Plan to 2030.
The AHS highlights and explores eight key themes in the borough’s rich heritage, as well as highlighting particular case studies, local best practice and opportunities to capitalise on the borough’s unique offer. It was produced with significant stakeholder engagement, including a series of engagement workshops and exhibitions. The strategy was adopted in October 2017.
Ashford Heritage Trail
For more information on the history of Ashford, why not download our Town Centre Heritage Trail [pdf] 4MB, which takes visitors on a journey through history as they discover many of Ashford’s significant sites, past events and famous faces that have shaped the town. Visitors can see the beautiful Edwardian architecture in North Street, Victoria Park’s Grade II* listed Hubert Fountain, and a WWI Grade I listed war memorial tank.
Starting from the high street, the tour meanders through the town and finishes at Ashford Borough Museum. The walk takes approximately half an hour, is free to enjoy and is suitable for all ages.
Museums and heritage centres
You could also visit one of our uniquely themed museums and heritage centres, which are dedicated to preserving and promoting the borough’s rich history and heritage. For more information, please see museums and heritage centres.
Ashford Borough Museum currently have a vacancy for Chair of the Museum Management Committee.
Heritage events, commemorations and projects
We are always keen to hear about any historic themed events, commemorations or projects that are taking place across the borough, and can offer support where possible.
If you are planning any heritage-related event or project, or have any general historical information that you feel may be of interest, please contact the Heritage Development Officer, Elizabeth Fagg, on 01233 330299, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.