Ashford Parish


Once a small market town, with vital links with the coast and major towns of the South East, Ashford has its roots in the ninth century. The parish church, St. Mary the Virgin, has Saxon beginnings and contains the family tombs of Fogge, Smyth, and Whitfield to name but a few. The Church records date back to 1570.

Various manors and estates surrounded the town, Repton, Licktop, Esture, and Wall were the main manors that continued to be owned by prominent families throughout the centuries. By the late 18th century, Edward Hasted remarks that Ashford is a 'neat and cheerful town' containing around 2,000 people in 320 houses and 4,000 soldiers in the barracks at Barrow Hill.

The huge increase in population due to the military barracks, the coming of the railway to Ashford and the opening of the railway works at Newtown in the 19th century, saw Ashford and its surrounding parishes being divided into separately administered East and West districts. In the East Ashford Union district there were 25 parishes split into three sub-districts. In the West Ashford Union district there were 13 parishes divided into two sub-districts.

Each Union was self governed by a group of Guardians who oversaw distinct areas of social need such as Health, Schools, provision for the poor in rates or at the workhouse, and registration of births, marriages and deaths. The enormity of the Guardians tasks can be seen in Kelly's Directory in 1881 where population figures for each Union are given as over 13,000 for East and 18,000 for West Ashford Unions.

By the 20th century, Ashford continued to flourish as a rural market town attracting major businesses and traders to the town centre. The Ashford bypass, which became the M20, was constructed in the 1950's, provided the town alternative road links rather than the railway. In the 1990's the Channel Tunnel and Eurostar enabled Ashford to become an international town with links to the Continent.


For more historical information please visit:

Surrounding Parishes

Boughton Aluph, Westwell, Hothfield, Great Chart, Kingsnorth, Sevington, Mersham, Hinxhill, Wye

Ashford People

From census and trade directories it appears that Ashford was a flourishing town focussed on its agricultural market and the trade and services that eminated from it. Over time, it benefitted greatly from prominent and wealthy families establishing schools & hospitals as well as other public necessities.
The coming of the railway and the accompanying works in Newtown, brought with it a boom in travellers, workers, and families. The social impact of the railway saw the rise of schools, churches, housing, health, and policing needs. 

The chart below shows the sharp rise of Ashford's population during a 120 year period.The chart is based on census, trade directories, and Victoria County History of Kent figures.



  • Census: All exist apart from half of the 1841 census.
  • Wills totalling fifteen range from 1438 to 1656 on Kent Archaeological Society website.
  • Tithe Apportionments 1843 for Ashford are also found on Kent Archaeological Society website
  • Hearth Tax: Kent's Tax of 1664 has been transcribed on Hearth Tax Online. It features surnames from Ashford and indicates the size of properties taxed in the 17th century.


The Free Grammar School was built in 1635 by Sir Norton Knatchbull. More about its history can be found at Ashford Museum. The museum is housed in this historic building and is well worth a visit. The school was later moved to new premises in 1875.

Other schools:

  • British School in West Street built in 1861 for 480 children mixed. Englarged in 1885 & 1904 (1881 & 1913 Kelly's Directory)
  • National School in Barrow Hill built in 1841 for 440 children mixed. Enlarged in 1884. (1881 & 1913 Kelly's Directory)
  • Board School in Beaver Road built in 1879 for 450 children mixed. (1881 Kelly's Directory)
  • South Eastern Railway Company Schools in South Ashford built in 1852 for 550 children mixed. Infants added in 1904. (1881 & 1913 Kelly's Directory)
  • Ashford Technical Schools. (1913 Kelly's Directory)
  • The County School for Girls in Marsh Street built in 1907 for 90 girls. (1913 Kelly's Directory)
  • Catholic school in Victoria Road built in 1899 for 150 children mixed. (1913 Kelly's Directory)
  • Beaver Road, South Ashford. Built for education of 446 girls and 316 infants in 1879. Enlarged in 1902. (1913 Kelly's Directory)
  • Victoria Road, South Ashford. Built for education of 340 boys in 1895. (1913 Kelly's Directory)

Church & Religion

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin has Saxon beginnings. Though nothing of the Saxon beginnings survive there are some reused Caen stones from possibly the Norman period. In the Domesday Book and the Monachorum, Ashford is annexed to the once larger parish church of Wye before it was enlarged in the 15th century. Inside the church are many effigies of prominent Ashford families from the 15th century such as the Fogge's, Smythe's and the Whitfield's. In the churchyard are many large altar tombs and grand gravestones.  More information about the church can be found here.

  • Parish registers date from 1570. Registers in existence are: Baptisms 1570-1956; Marriages 1570-1984; Banns 1754-1969; Burials:1570-1954.
  • Transcriptions of parish records by KFHS are available: Baptisms 1693-1906, Marriages 1693-1871, and Burials 1693-1906 on CD 22.
  • More Transcriptions carried out by Arthur Ruderman are from 1570 to the late 1800's. They can be found on the Kent Archaeological Society website. 
  • Monumental Inscriptions for St. Mary's: Only exist up to 1758 also on Kent Archaeological Society website. 
  • Cemeteries: Bybrook with a portion dedicated to Catholic burials, Willesborough opened in 1884, & Canterbury Road opened in 1859. More information about burials and grave markers can be found at Ashford Borough Council

Several non-conformist chapels were established in Ashford in the 17th century. There were early cases of non-conformity in Ashford in the 16th century.  John Brown in 1511 was burnt at the stake in St. Martyrs Field, Mace Lane, Ashford for heresy. The same happened to  Nicholas Final and Mathew Bradbridge of Tenterden in 1557.

Some other Churches and Chapels

  • Roman Catholics: Church dedicated to St. Teresa established 1865 and completed in 1892 seating 150 people.
  • Society of Friends: A meeting house existed in 1891 with seats for 220 people.
  • Unitarians: Chapel established with 450 seats.
  • Wesleyans: Chapel established in George (later Bank) Street in 1874 seating 630 people
  • Bible Christians: Chapel existed in 1891
  • Methodists had a temporary meeting place in the Assembly Rooms during the 19th century. A permanent Chapel was established in Hempsted Street in 1843.
  • Baptists founded their chapel in the town in 1653. It was later replaced by a new larger chapel in Station Road in 1881 seating 700 people.
  • Congregationalists chapel built in 1662 was replaced by a larger one in Tufton Street in 1865 seating 600
  • Christ Church in Christchurch Road, Beaver established in 1867 as a chapel of ease  for 600 people to the main Ashford Parish Church.
  • Particular Baptists: Chapel in Norwood Street.
  • St. Paul's Mission Church in Forge Lane.


  • Ashford Cottage Hospital was established in 1870 in Marsh Street (now Station Road) Ashford. It took in patients, for a small fee, that were not infectious, insane or had an incurable disease. Doctors worked in this hosptial for one month for free.
  • Ashford Hospital was opened in 1877 in King's Avenue, Ashford by William Pomfret Burra esq. It was enlarged in 1900 to contain 20 beds.
  • Isolation Hospital at Beaver in South Ashford was built in 1902 with 8 beds.

  • Infectious Diseases hospitals at Kennington and Willesborough opened pre 1900.

More information can be found on these hospitals by visiting Ashford Museum  in the Churchyard, Ashford.


  • Lathe of Lathe of Scray (Kelly's Directory 1903)
  • In the Hundred of Ashford, Chart & Longbridge (1903 Kelly's Directory)
  • West Ashford Union (1903 Kelly's Directory)
  • Ashford Petty Sessional Division (1903 Kelly's Directory)
  • Ashford County Court district (1903 Kelly's Directory)
  • Benefice of Ashford (Present)
  • Rural deanery of East Charing (1903 Kelly's Directory) or Ashford (Present)
  • Archdeaconry of Maidstone and diocese of Canterbury (1903 Kelly's Directory) or Maidstone (Present)
Ashford Villages

Bethersden Biddenden Bilsington

Bircholt Bonnington Boughton Aluph

Brabourne Brook Challock

Charing Chilham Crundale

Egerton Godmersham

Great Chart Orlestone/Hamstreet

Hastingleigh High Halden Hinxhill

Hothfield Hurst nr. Aldington

Parish Records

Kenardington Kennington Kingsnorth

Little Chart Mersham Molash

Newenden Pevington nr. Pluckley

Pluckley Rolvenden Ruckinge

Sevington Shadoxhurst Smarden

Smeeth Stone cum Ebony Tenterden

Warehorne Westwell Willesborough

Wittersham Woodchurch Wye

Ashford Branch