Saturday 1 January 2011


This not especially inspiring building, which now serves as the town library, was once Ashbourne Hall; home to the Cokayne family (yes, really).

It is believed that the Cokayne family were allied to William the Conqueror (1066 and all that) but they first settled in Ashbourne in the 12th Century and continued to live here until the Hall was eventually sold off by Sir Aston Cokayne in the 17th Century. Although Ashbourne was their primary residence, the family also owned land in other parts of Derbyshire; as well as in Warwickshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. They were very much examples of what would be known as 'Landed Gentry' and, as such, exerted a great deal of influence over all of the people living and working on their estates. In Ashbourne, their holdings were quite considerable and included all of what can be seen in the photo below, and more besides. The photo was taken from the top of the town park, on the playing fields just below Cokayne Avenue.

Now, this land is open to the public, and the playing fields see regular use by the local schools and sports teams. It is also the site of the annual Highland Gathering which takes place each July and has grown to become the largest event of its kind outside Scotland.

The mast on top of the hill is close to where my grandma lived many years ago. I remember playing in the field around the base of it as a child, fed up of the company of adults and allowed to roam free as long as I kept away from the main road at the bottom. (Sad that kids today don't have anywhere near the freedom which we enjoyed).

I also remember this house. It always struck me as odd that one house in a whole row would be 3 storey. I can only assumne that either the builder or architect who constructed the row, designed that particular house for himself. When I was about 8 or 9, I thought that this would be an extremely cool place to live, up there on the edge of the hill in the very tallest house. Although I grew out of the desire to live in that house, the desire to live high up with views has never faded and I doubt it ever will.


  1. At least it's spelt differently ;)

    Never give up on your dream of living up on a hill with a view below...anything is possible if you want it badly enough :)

    Meanwhile, you're enjoying the best of everything, moving around your beautiful countryside, observing and recording and sharing the richness and diversity of life!

  2. You live in such a lovely part of the world - Thank you for all the views and descriptions....and Happy New Year!

  3. Very interesting article, I always wondered where the Cokayne family used to live. My husband is a Cokayne and we moved to Ashbourne a year ago. I will look at the library in a different way now! Thanks

  4. Dear Anonymous, You may find this interesting:

    H :)