History of Ashby

Ashby de la Zouch is a historic market town located in the heart of the National Forest in Leicestershire. The name dates back to the 12th Century when the town was in possession of the Zouche family – it is the Zouche family that the market, Market Street and fairs’ tradition formed from. This rich history still lives on today in the quaint town of Ashby de la Zouch.

One of the most notable historic sites in the town is undoubtedly Ashby-de-la-Zouch castle which has been marked as a grade 1 listed building by English Heritage. The structure was first built as a manor house in the 12th century and achieved castle status in the 15th century after continued development by many different owners. Today visitors can climb 98 steps to the top of Hasting’s Tower to enjoy the view, as well as exploring the historical underground passages of the castle, all the way from the kitchen basements to the Hastings tower – all of which date back to the Civil War.

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Ashby’s main shopping street, Market Street is lined with beautiful timber-framed buildings, mostly Georgian and early Victorian, with 3 dating back to Elizabethan times. These buildings feature the historic and beautiful architecture that they are lucky enough to be able to showcase. Another notable building is the water tower located in the town cemetery. This Grade II listed building is an English Heritage site and dates back to the 19th century. Bath Street features houses that date back to the 1820s – these houses are known as classical-styled buildings, named Rawden Terraces. It is thought that these houses were built in the town around the same times as the Ashby de la Zouch Spa.

The Ivanhoe Baths were built in 1822 to convey water to Ashby from a natural saline spring at Moira Colliery, about 3 miles away from the town. The Royal Hotel on Station Road is situated on the site of the Ivanhoe Baths and was originally built to accommodate visitors to the spa. Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel, also named Ivanhoe is set in Ashby during the scene of the famous battle tournament. Since 1954, Ivanhoe has been the name of the local high school catering for 11-14 year olds.

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