Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for ASHBY-DE-LA-ZOUCH

ASHBY-DE-LA-ZOUCH, a town, a parish, a subdistrict, and a district, in Leicester. The town stands in a pleasant situation, on the NW border of the county, on the rivulet Gilwiskaw, near the Midland railway and the Ashby-de-la-Zouch canal, 18 miles by road and 20¾ by railway NW by W of Leicester. It was anciently called Esseby; and it took the afterpart of its present name from the ancient Norman-French family of La Zouch. It belonged to that family from the time of Henry III. till 1461; it passed then to the Crown; and it was given to the family of Hastings, the ancestors of the present Marquis. The castle of the La Zouches stood on a rising ground at the S end of the town; and a stronger one was built on its site, out of its materials, in 1480, by Sir William Hastings. This gentleman was master of the mint, and introduced a new gold coinage; and he was created Baron Hastings by Edward IV., and beheaded in the Tower by Richard III. Mary, Queen of Scots, was for some time confined in the castle; James I.'s queen and son Henry were entertained in it, on their journey to London in 1603; James I. himself visited it in 1617; and Charles I. dined at it a few days before the storming of Leicester. Colonel Henry Hastings, son of the Earl of Huntingdon, and afterwards created Baron Loughborough, garrisoned it for Charles, was besieged in it by Fairfax, and surrendered it to Colonel Needham. The parliament thought it more likely, if left entire, to be serviceable to the Royalists than to themselves; and they ordered it to be dismantled in 1648. Only portions of the hall, the chapel, and the kitchen are now standing; but they form an extensive and picturesque mass of ruin, perhaps the finest in the country; and they show Tudor features of architecture which indicate that some parts were of later erection than the original pile. The scene of the grand tournament described in "Ivanhoe" is about a mile to the W, near the village of Smisby; and some Roman coins have been found in the vicinity.

The town consists chiefly of one principal street, with two smaller ones running in a parallel direction; and contains some well-built houses. The town. hall was built in 1857, and is a noble edifice. St. Helen's church is fine decorated English; includes two chapels, separated by four lofty arches, springing from fluted pillars; and contains tombs of the Earls of Huntingdon, and of the good Countess Selina, who figures largely in religious history, and spent £100,000 in works of benevolence. Trinity church, at the west end of the town, is a handsome structure, in the early English style, with about 900 sittings, built in 1838, at a cost of £4,000. There are chapels for Independents, Baptists, Wesleyan Methodists, and Primitive Methodists; and the first was rebuilt in 1825, at a cost of nearly £2,000. The grammar school is a large edifice; was founded, in 1567, by Henry, Earl of Huntingdon; has endowments yielding £840 a year; holds ten exhibitions of £10 a year each, in Emanuel college, Cambridge; and had for its first master Joseph Hall, afterwards Bishop of Exeter, and author of well-known Christian writings. Two other public schools have £50 and £36 from endowment, and other charities £150. Ivanhoe baths, constructed in 1826, have a fine Doric edifice 200 feet long; are supplied, by pipes, from springs 3 miles distant, with mineral water containing bromine; and are noted for medicinal effect in scrofula and kindred diseases. The town is a summer resort of invalids and visitors; and has two good hotels, good lodging-houses, a theatre, a railway station, a head post office‡ and a banking office. A weekly market is held on Saturday, and fairs on the Monday before Shrove-Tuesday, Easter-Tuesday, Whit-Tuesday, 14 Sept., and 8 Nov. Trade is carried on in malting, stocking-making, hat-making, and in the traffic of neighbouring brickfields, smelting-works, and collieries. A coalfield lies around, of irregular outline, about 10 miles by 8; estimated to comprise 40,000 acres of workable area of coal, having nine seams, with an aggregate thickness of 33 feet; and includes pits at Swadlincote, Moira, Donnisthorpe, and Oakthorpe, belonging to the Marquis of Hastings, and pits at Snibston, Whitwick, Church-Gresley, Measham, Stannton-Harrold, and elsewhere, belonging to other proprietors. The town is governed by officers annually appointed at the court-leet of the lord of the manor; and is a seat of petty sessions and a polling-place. Pop., 3,772. Houses, 830. Bishop Joseph Hall and Dr. John Bainbridge were natives.

The parish includes also part of Blackfordby chapelry. Acres, 8,097. Real property, £39,884; of which £12,230 are in mines, and £1,130 are in railways. Pop., 6,958. Houses, 1,347. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Peterborough. Value, £417.* Patron, the Marquis of Hastings. Trinity church is a separate charge, with income of £180,* in the patronage of the Vicar.-The subdistrict includes the parishes of Osgathorpe and Calke, the latter electorally in Derby, and parts of the parishes of Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Breedon-on-the-Hill. Acres, 12,480. Pop., 8,290. Houses, 1,640. The district comprehends also the subdistrict of Hartshorn, containing the parishes of Willesley, Smisby, Hartshorn, and Ticknall, the extra-parochial tract of Bondary or Burton Road, and parts of the parishes of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Seal, Stretton-en-le-Field, Church-Gresley, and Measham, all, except the parts of Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Seal, electorally in Derby; the subdistrict of Measham, containing the parishes of Heather, Swepstone, and Snarestone, and parts of the parishes of Nailstone, Measham, and Appleby, the three last electorally in Derby; and the subdistrict of Whitwick, containing the parishes of Whitwick, Cole-Orton, Packington, and Ravenstone, parts of the two latter electorally in Derby, and part of the parish of Ibstock. Acres, 50,242. Poor-rates in 1866, £11,636. Pop. in 1861, 28,480. Houses, 5,931. Marriages in 1866, 239; births, 1,188,-of which 96 were illegitimate; deaths, 599,-of which 251 were at ages under 5 years, and 11 were at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2,007; births, 9,902; deaths, 5,665. The places of worship in 1851 were 33 of the Church of England, with 10,081 sittings; 2 of Independents, with 655 s.; 13 of Baptists, with 2,934 s.; 27 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 4,455 s.; 7 of Primitive Methodists, with 1,040 s.; 3 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 160 s.; and 2 of Roman Catholics, with 289 s. The schools in 1851 were 49 public day schools, with 3,283 scholars; 48 private day schools, with 888 s.; 60 Sunday schools, with 4,191 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 29 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, a subdistrict, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Ashby de la Zouch AP/CP       Ashby de la Zouch SubD       Ashby de la Zouch PLU/RegD       Leicestershire AncC
Place names: ASHBY DE LA ZOUCH     |     ESSEBY
Place: Ashby de la Zouch

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