….shopping, shopping, shopping!
Skip to the last few paragraphs if shopping is not a reason for you to visit Ashbourne.
The shopping history of Ashbourne
Six coaching roads intersected in Ashbourne in the 18th century, on route from London to Carlisle, so Ashbourne has been a great place to trade for at least 200 years!
Many of the beautiful buildings from the 18th century remain and, after the Victorians added their buildings and developments, not much changed. As a result, there are now over 200 listed buildings in the town.
Independent and Fair Trade Shops
Ashbourne has worked hard in recent years to excel at its retail offering. As well as a few national chain stores (Joules, WH Smith, Costa, Fatface), there are a wealth of independent shops offering a personal service and a feeling that customers matter.
Many of the independent shop owners source great quality, locally produced goods and most are trying to offer products that differ from the recognisable high street brands. Many offer fair trade products, the town becoming a fair trade town more than 10 years ago.
There is a sense that the shops are complementary rather than competitive so there is much to keep you interested.
There are just a few empty premises and it feels like Ashbourne is bucking the national trend. The high street is buzzing, there’s a positive vibe and a real sense of community. Many shops play the same local radio station so the shopping experience can feel almost seamless at times.
The shops are clustered around the historic cobbled market place and along the main streets of the town. Hidden alleys and yards are a pleasure to explore.
The town is big enough to offer choice but not so big that you are in competition with hordes of other shoppers.
Don’t be put off by dowdy exteriors – interiors are generally contemporary and welcoming. Indulge in some retail therapy, why don’t you?
What to expect
Antiques, art, bakeries, cafes and restaurants, fashion, gift shops, jewellery, speciality food and drink, sweets.
You can also get hands-on with ‘have a go’ craft activities at Sticky Fingers or designing your own jewellery at Avanti
What else apart from the shopping?
If shopping is not your thing or you have some time to spare, there is also the parish church of St Oswald, with its imposing 212 ft spire, to visit.
Take in the wonderful architecture that dates from the 16th century and some of the 200 listed buildings in the town. The Memorial Gardens are also worth a quick wander around.
There are free guided tours of the town twice a week from Easter to end of September (from the visitor centre).
If you get your timing right, there is also a vibrant annual arts festival or Shrovetide football to witness.