Ashford & Parishes Research

A Brief History of Ashford

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 information and historical sources on Ashford please visit the links page above.


Ashford's Parishes

Ashford's parishes are some of the most prettiest in the whole of England each village with it's own unique history.  
From famous smugglers to recurring ghosts, villages such as Aldington and Pluckley have enjoyed the fame and fortune of many visitors. Stately residences, such as Godinton House and the now lost Olantigh Towers have for centuries characterised the Ashford countryside with estate gardens and extensive lands.

On the right is a list of all the past and present Ashford villages, click on them to find out more about their past as well as:  

  • Parish information
  • Articles relating to the village
  • Photographs
  • Village records
  • Ten most popular Surnames from Parish registers
  • Monumental inscriptions
  • Population figures
  • Web links specific to the village.


Please note these links are under construction at the moment. Check back soon for updates. In the meantime, if you have any comments or questions on Ashford villages, then please contact us via email or on the forum.

    Ashford Parishes 

    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 email: