Living in Ashford


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What Is Life Like In Ashford?

Ashford is a thriving town in Kent. Located just 60 miles from London, Ashford has a firm history of being a communications hub having been connected to five train lines since the 19th century and now, with Ashford International linking the town to London and Europe, with routes to Lille, Brussels and Paris, Europe is easily accessible.

Over the last few decades; the town has seen huge expansion and redevelopment with the County Square Shopping Centre and Ashford Designer Outlet.

Ashford also boasts many primary and secondary schools – two of which are grammar schools.

It was the transport links and great local schools (along with affordable housing, beautiful countryside nearby and high levels of employment) that contributed to Ashford being ranked the 4th best place to live in the UK, by Channel 4, in 2005!

History Of Ashford

Ashford and the surrounding area have been lived in since the Iron Age. Findings would suggest that a barrow was found on what we now know as Barrow Hill, that dates back to 1500 BC. During the Roman period, the town had two ironworks that processed ore (mined in the nearby Weald), into metal.

The origins of the present town were established in 893 AD, when a Saxon lord granted some land to people escaping a Viking raid. The settlement was named Essetesford, old English for ‘ford near a clump of trees’ and was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as being owned by Hugh de Montford, Constable of England, having a church and two mills and being worth 150 shillings.

During Medieval times, Ashford became an agricultural market town when, in 1243, Henry III granted the town a market! The farming community continued to grow and by 1780, local farmers were holding markets – attracting visitors from London, Chatham and Kent’s coast. Even today, the market is still used by 5,000 farmers.

As well as farming, Ashford became well-known during the early and mid-20th century for its print industry, when The Headley Brothers printing services company began in 1881. By the 1950s, they were printing and exporting in excess of two million books.

From the 1960s, Ashford had become a key area for development, as London County Council had negotiated over 5,000 homes to be built, as an overspill from the capital. This created much of South Ashford and Kennington.

Soup manufacturer Batchelors (now Premier Foods) and Brake Brothers both opened factories nearby, employing many local residents.

Timothy Mochford - Senior Branch Manager

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Days Out In Ashford

Having such fantastic transport links means that Ashford can offer some equally brilliant days out – for local residents and visitors alike.

Whether you fancy off-roading at one of Ashford’s adrenaline junkie experience centres, going up, up and away in a hot air balloon or exploring the Kent Downs, there really is something for everyone to enjoy in Ashford!

To take a glimpse into the area’s rich past, take a trip to the lovingly-restored Willesborough Windmill – a fully working windmill, where you can make your own flour. It is open throughout the summer, each Saturday and Sunday afternoon (plus Wednesdays during July and August) for tours and special events. The café is well-worth a visit for a spot of well-deserved cake and a cuppa!

Staying on the history theme, Ashford Borough Museum is a must-visit to see exhibitions and artefacts from the town’s history. Housed inside a 17th-century Grade II listed building and spanning two floors, the museum offers a fascinating insight into Ashford’s background.

Fancy pretending to be lord or lady of the manor for the day? At Godinton House – an ancient estate with beautifully-restored house and gardens – you can! Explore the much-loved home’s many rooms, as your tour guide tells you all you need to know about the 600 years of history held there. Marvel at the furniture and art collections and the twelve acres of tranquil gardens, and have your breath taken away by the sheer grandeur of all there is to see at this splendid and sumptuous country house.

Things To Do In Ashford

90% of residents said they were satisfied with the local area as a place to live in 2014’s official residents' survey, simply because there is so much to do in Ashford!

McArthurGlen’s Ashford Designer Outlet is one of the town’s most visited spots, primarily for fashionistas on the hunt for a bargain! The facility boasts 80 of the biggest designer brands, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Jaeger and Kurt Geiger, at up to 60% off the RRP, along with restaurant favourites Pizza Express and Wagamama. Designed by Lord Richard Rodgers, the designer outlet is housed under an eye-catching tent structure.

The town also has a more centrally located shopping centre (County Square) with High-Street stores such as Debenhams, Marks & Spencer and W.H. Smith, so shopaholics are well and truly catered for!

If all that shopping has whetted your appetite; you’re in luck as Ashford has a wealth of restaurants to dine in, especially at Eureka Entertainments leisure park, with its cinema and health club.

Sport more your thing? Ashford has plenty of sports groups to support and join, such as; Ashford United Football Club, Ashford Rugby Football Club, and a Hockey Club and Athletics Club. The latter is based at the Lottery-funded Julie Rose Stadium, which can hold events for up to 800 spectators.

The Stour Centre (near to the train station) has an impressive range of leisure and recreational facilities including swimming pools, water slides, gyms, a sports hall and two squash courts.

Schools In Ashford

Ashford has a number of excellent schools and educational facilities within close proximity. These include:

Primary and first schools:
  • Phoenix Community Primary School
  • Downs View Infant School
  • Ashford School
  • Victoria Road Primary School
  • Godinton Primary School
  • Willesborough Infant & Junior Schools
  • Lady Joanna Thornhill Endowed Primary School
  • East Stour Primary School
  • Beaver Green Infant School
  • Brook Community Primary School
  • Great Chart Primary School
  • Kingsnorth C. of E. Primary School
  • Furley Park Primary Academy
  • Challock Primary School
  • Mersham Primary School
  • Smeeth Community Primary School
  • Brabourne C. of E. Primary School
Secondary schools:
  • The Towers School
  • Ashford School
  • Highworth Grammar School for Girls
  • The Norton Knatchbull School
  • The North School
  • John Wallis Academy
Higher education:
  • The Towers School
  • Highworth Grammar School For Girls
  • The Norton Knatchbull School

Transport In Ashford

Ashford is well connected and has a range of transport links.

Train links

Ashford International has direct high-speed links to stations throughout London including Charing Cross (average journey time is under 80 minutes), Victoria (90 minutes), St. Pancras International (38 minutes) along with the Kent towns and cities of Folkestone (19 minutes), Canterbury (20 minutes) and Ramsgate (40 minutes).

The Eurostar also means Ashford International is a gateway to Europe with Lille just an hour away and Paris and Brussels accessible in two.

Buses and coaches

Stagecoach East Kent, Kent Coach Tours, Renown Coaches and Nu Venture bus operators all serve Ashford, going to destinations such as Canterbury, Folkestone, Maidstone, New Romney and Tunbridge Wells.

National Express’ 021 service runs through Ashford, up to 5 times per day, with routes to Bluewater Shopping Centre and London and Dover.


Lydd is the nearest airport to Ashford, for flights to Le Touquet, France, and the nearest for full international services can be found at Gatwick, which can be reached within an hour. Heathrow is also just 78 miles away, whilst Stansted is under 80 miles from the town.


Ashford is located close to both Junctions 9 and 10 of the M20, connecting to Folkestone in the south (in less than 25 minutes) and Maidstone (in 30 minutes) and to the M25 northwards.

Central London is 60 miles away, taking an average of 90 minutes to drive.

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Ashford Branch
Opening times

  • Mon-Fri: 9am - 6pm
  • Sat: 9am - 5pm
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