The History of Ashford Kent: A Journey Across Time

Nestled in the county of Kent, Ashford boasts a tapestry of history and tradition. Starting as a market village and evolving into a transit hub, Ashford has etched its mark on England's historical timeline. This article invites you on an enthralling expedition through history of Ashford, shedding light on moments and transformations that have sculpted the town we recognise today.

Ancient Origins

Long before it bore the name Ashford, this region was home to inhabitants of different eras. Excavations have unearthed artefacts from periods offering glimpses into early human societies. Discoveries like coins and pottery fragments hint at the Romans's influence during their time in Britain.

Medieval Era

The Middle Ages played a role in laying the groundwork for Ashford's history. By the 1086 Domesday Book entry, Ashford was noted as an agrarian settlement boasting lands and signs of flourishing endeavours. Its growth had reached a point where it was catalogued among towns across England.

Emergence as a Market Town

Securing a market charter in 1243 under King Henry III's rule marked the beginning of Ashford's prosperity as a market town. The town was granted permission to host markets, which played a role in boosting its economic development.

Influential Trade Routes

Trade flourished in Ashford thanks to its position along trade routes linking London and continental Europe. The convergence of Great Chart Road and Watling Street in Ashford attracted both travellers and traders.

Entering the Industrial Era

As the shift from agriculture to industrialisation swept across England, Ashford was also affected. The emergence of industries like flax processing in the century created new job opportunities for locals beyond farming.

The Ashford Railway Works

The establishment of the Ashford Railway Works in 1847 marked a milestone in the town's history, ushering in an era of railway advancements. These works played a role in building and maintaining locomotives, offering employment opportunities, and solidifying Ashford's reputation as an industrious town.

An International Gateway

Ashford experienced a transformation with the opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1994, integrating it into transportation networks. The Eurostar high-speed trains passing through Ashford connected London to Paris and Brussels, again putting Ashford on the map.

Cultural Sights

Ashford's history is not about development. It's also shaped by its arts and culture scene. Landmarks like St Mary Church dating back to Norman times and the listed Willesborough Windmill reflect the legacy of the town.

Recreation and Leisure

Besides its significance, Ashford provides a range of leisure options. Residents can take walks in Conningbrook Lakes Country Park. Explore unique wildlife at Hamstreet Woods National Nature Reserve. For those who love shopping, there are plenty of choices at places like County Square Shopping Center.

Looking Ahead

As Ashford moves forward while cherishing its past, it focuses on growth opportunities. Plans for development and enhancing public spaces show the town's dedication to progressing while preserving its cultural roots.

Historical Tie to the Tudors

During the Tudor era, Ashford became known for its connections. Queen Elizabeth I reportedly visited Chilham Castle near Ashford, adding a touch to the town's narrative. The castle stands as a symbol of Tudor history, offering a peek into the lifestyle of that time.

World War Influence

Similar to towns in England, Ashford was not untouched by the effects of World Wars I and II. It emerged as a transportation centre during those periods due to its rail connections and proximity to military training grounds. The local community made contributions to the war efforts by serving in capacities.

Growth and Revival

Following World War II, Ashford saw rapid growth and revitalisation—a time marked by substantial urban development across Britain. New residential areas began springing up to accommodate the growing population, while industrial zones also saw expansion.

A Hub of Culture

While Ashford is recognised for its importance, it has also embraced culture with enthusiasm for years. The town now features theatres, art galleries and cultural events that mirror its community.

Economic Diversification

After facing challenges resulting from the decline of train manufacturing in the 20th century—a sector deeply tied to its railway heritage—Ashford authorities shifted their focus towards diversifying the local economy. This involved attracting industries like technology and innovative startups, injecting vitality into Ashford's economy while adapting to changing times.


Exploring Ashford's history reveals a town that has undergone transformations over time.
Ashford has evolved from a village into an international hub in England, showcasing its ability to adapt and thrive by honouring its history and welcoming advancements. Today, Ashfield is poised to build upon its legacy for the future.

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