History Of Ashford, Kent
The Borough of Ashford lies on the eastern edge of the ancient forest of "Andredsweald" or "Anderida". This originally stretched as far west as Hampshire and formed the basis from which the Weald is formed.
Its closeness to London has always made Kent a strong influence on the capital, and vice versa. Thus by the end of the 16th century Cade (of Cade’s Rebellion) was credited by William Shakespeare in Henry VI, part 2 as being from Ashford. The play includes an Ashford butcher called "Dick" who looks forward to removing officialdom after the rebellion and says: first thing, let’s kill all the lawyers.
Ashford’s importance as a growing agricultural and market town was confirmed in 1243 when it was incorporated, and by the end of the 16th century it had risen to become an important market town, primarily for livestock. The market was held in the High Street until 1856 when local farmers and businessmen relocated to Elwick Road and formed a market company that claims to be the oldest surviving registered company in England and Wales. There is still a regular street market in the town, although the market company has relocated outside the town and is used by some 5,000 farmers.
Parts of the parish church date from the 13th century but was substantially restored in the 15th century with many alterations since. In 1638 a free grammar school was founded here, it was built on the churchyard’s west side, and remained there until 1846, now used as a museum.
The Joint Services School of Intelligence was based at Templer Barracks in Ashford, until the barracks were decommissioned in 1997 and then demolished to make way for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. In 1982, Prince Andrew, Duke of York was involved with the "School".
Essentially a modern town, little is left of the old Ashford, apart from some half-timbered buildings in Middle Row and around the churchyard in the town centre. A number of old buildings were removed to make way for the controversial ring road around the centre, built in the early 1970s. Three modern shopping centres are located in the town: Park Mall, County Square and the new Designer Outlet. Bank Street and High Street are traffic-free shopping thoroughfares. As of 2005, Ashford is adding about 800 new homes each year.