An Amble around Ashley
Come with us on a pictorial amble around our village visiting some of the historic and interesting houses. The sketches of each point of interest were done by Gwen Maguire, an old resident of Ashley who has now died. Our amble starts at Ashley Manor House and meanders through our ‘figure of 8’ village, returning you to your start point. The Manor House is very close to St Mary the Virgin Church which is definitely worth a visit.
Print off the amble and come and see these points of interest (plus others) in our lovely village.
The Manor House (1)
The house dates from the 17th century and contains a room known as the Court Room, where the Lord of the Manor used to collect his dues and demands at regular intervals during the year. It was refurbished in the 1860’s and its extensive barns and maltings were converted to 7 houses in the 1980’s.
This is the only remaining public house out of 5 and has a date of 1844 on the east wall. The oldest part is probably 18th century.
This was the Bakehouse until 1955. It then became a shop and it was the shop and post office until August 1990. It was then sold to be converted to the private house it is now.
The town yard was situated in main Street, to the east of the village hall, now built over by a row of modern houses. The original yard contained 10 houses, accommodating 100 people, using a single shared pump, which can still be seen by the roadside. It is believed that a thriving basket-making industry was carried on, and support for this is found in the row of pollarded willows along the Middleton Road.
Brown Horse Cottage (6)
This is situated at the east end of the village and was once the Brown Horse pub. After the closure of the pub, it became known as the Cottage Holdings and later the present owners renamed it Brown Horse Cottage. The oldest part is believed to be mid-17th century.
This is one of the oldest buildings in the village. It is a medieval timber framed house with 17th and 19th additions. It has a thatched roof.
Shaw’s Cottage (8)
This was so named because the Shaw family lived there when it was built. Late in the 18th century, the dissenters would meet late at night in the meeting house and would often finish their devotions at Shaw’s Cottage. To avoid being discovered they would look up the chimney to check if dawn was breaking and make a speedy secret exit.
Ashley Court (9)
Built in 1650, the house now known as Ashley Court was endowed by three Archbishops. Its original purpose was to provide accommodation for the Rector of Ashley, who also held the position of squire of the village.
During the 18th and 19th cnturies the living passed from father to son on a number of occasions. The Farrer family provided Ashley’s rector for a continuous period of 73 years. The Pulteney’s were also incumbents for a considerable time, but in 1919 Arthur Wykeham Pulteney obtained permission from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Peterborough to bequeath the house to his sister, Mrs. Beatrice Lascelles. It remained in the Lascelles family until 1955.
Nos 13 and 15 Main Street (10)
These were built in 1861, with leaded casement windows, moulded cast iron gutters and dated rainwater heads.
Home Farm (originally named Owsley House) (11)
This was so named originally because it was once the home of the Owsley family. The porch at the front of the house is dated 1871 but this was probably added to the property which is of an earlier period. The wall adjoining the house, behind the phone box, is said to be the oldest construction left in Ashley
The Manse (12)
This property is situated at the westward end of Westhorope and is now a private residence. It was built in 1831 to house the minister who took charge of both Ashley and Wilbarston chapels. Land was purchased for a small burial ground. Together with the purchase of some land at the back the total cost was a little over £400.
In 1892 the whole building was thoroughly renovated when the old place was said to have lost much of its antiqueness. The thatched roof was replaced by slate and two of the galleries were removed. The result may not have been picturesque but the chapel was safe from wind and rain and more comfortable for the congregation. These alterations cost £170.
The Chapel (attached to The Manse)
This was one of the oldest Dissenters’ meeting house in Northamptonshire. It was originally built in 1673 with a thatched roof and was described as a ‘marvel’, with three galleries and uncomfortable pews. It appears that from time to time during the first century of its foundation the worshippers suffered considerable harassment from the Anglican Rectors of Ashley.
No 28 Main Street (13)
This house is of an earlier period than the other buildings in this part of Main Street. A plan of the village dated 1807 showed it to be part of a row of buildings on the western side of Main Street all situated on the edge of the footpath. The others were demolished in the latter half of the 19th century and numbers 18-26 (even numbers) were constructed on the cleared site. Number 28 was at one time known as the Club Room or Reading Room. It was strictly for men only and was used for snooker, cards and general recreation. There was a library upstairs. Later on, women were allowed in for Girl Guides and also to use the library. A blacksmith also used the premises when he came to Ashley once a week and during the war it was the HQ of the local Home Guard. When it was sold in the 1950’s to become a private house the owner ran a small motor repair business and also had a petrol pump there.
The Rectory (14)
The house was built in the 19th century but only became the rectory in 1926 when Arthur Wykeham Pulteney moved the official seat of the Church there from Ashley Court. It is a stone house with a Collyweston roof. The entrance porch has a pivoted arched door. There is a bay window on the ground floor to the left of the entrance porch and it has stone mullioned windows. It ceased to house the Ashley rector in 1985 when the parish went into interregnum. The Peterborough Diocese sold it in the late 1980’s and it became a private house.
Nos 24-26 Main Street (15)
These are dated and again are Victorian Gothic. They are two storey houses with projecting gables to the front. The mullioned windows have leaded lights and there is a Collyweston roof.
The Rev RT Poultney was responsible for the building of numbers 13 & 15 and 18-26 and the school and school house. They are all built of stone with mullioned windows.
The School and House (16)
The School was built in 1865. It is a one storey, stone, Victorian Gothic building. There is a Welsh Slate roof. The entrance porch has double arched doors, presumably one for the girls and one for the boys.
The School House is dated 1865. A stone building with Welsh slate roof, it has stone arches over the second storey windows. The house was known as ‘Stoneheads’ because of the small stone faces peering down, one with tongue protruding. It is thought the only reason for this is because it housed the school teacher, a sense of humour on the part of the architect! The house has, more recently, been renamed School House.
The School was endowed by the Rev. R..P. Pulteney in 1858 and used for the education of the village children until 1966 when, under the re-organisation of education, the buildings were sold to a private buyer and primary school education was transferred to Wilbarston Primary School
Nos 18-22 Main Street known as The Gables (17)
These are dated 1866 and are built in Victorian Gothic style. There are two projecting gables. Number 20 has an entrance porch with an arched doorway. There are stone mullions with leaded lights and Collyweston roof. During the early part of the century when a Mr Horace Grey was living at number 22, the Doctor from Great Easton used it as a collection point for his made up prescriptions. Mr Grey was also a coal merchant with an office at Ashley station.
In Victorian times there were several bakehouses in the village, where the bread for the navvies working on the Harborough to Peterborough railway line was baked. The house in Westhorope known as The Old Bakehouse was one of these.
Ashley once had five inns – The Grazier's Arms, The Axe & Saw, The Brown Horse, The Coach & Horses and The George, of which only The George remains.
The forge was in Hall Lane, opposite The George and it is known that the house on the corner of Westhorope incorporated a forge and a Reading Room at sometime in its complicated history.
Until the late 1980’s there was a shop and Post Office in Main Street and the outbuildings of Carrie’s Cottage contain remnants of the old butcher’s chop. Ashley railway station was situation a quarter of a mile out of the village on the Medbourne Road. It opened in 1850 and was used for over a century until its closure in 1953.