toe in the water


Ashford-in-the-Water is a village in the Derbyshire Peak District, England, and on the River Wye. It is known for the quarrying of black marble (a form of limestone), and for the Maiden's Garlands made to mark the deaths of virgins in the village until 1801. Some of these are preserved in the parish church which itself dates back to the 13th Century. In the churchyard lies the base and stump of the market cross, which may date from the fifteenth century.

The tradition of well-dressing continues in Ashford as in many other villages in the Peak District. Each year slabs of clay are decorated by village volunteers using petals, leaves and other plants to create a striking picture. The finished designs are then displayed at the six wells around the village and the event is marked by a church service and precession through the village to bless the wells. The event takes place around Trinity Sunday and is hugely popular with thousands of visitors flocking to see the dressed wells.

It was mentioned as a Royal Manor in Domesday Book. The village passed to the Cavendish Family in the 16th century (from the Nevilles) and finally sold off in the 1950’s to pay death duties.

The village is now bypassed by the A6 road, returning peace and tranquillity to Ashford.

The Sheepwash Bridge is exactly as its name suggests as well as having been a packhorse bridge when it was first built. Lambs were placed in the pen on one side of the river and the ewes swam across the river to get to them. The shepherds made sure the sheep had a good dunking on the way across! This was an easy way to clean the fleece before shearing. Take a good look into the waters beneath the bridge - it is possible to see a good number of large trout swimming around.

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