|By sludgegulper - flickr commons|
Ashford is a town in the borough of Ashford in kent, England. In 2005 it was voted the fourth-best place to live in the United Kingdom, lying on the Great Stour River and near the M20 motorway.
Ashford is a market town and for centuies has been the communication hub for all the surrounding villages. The town lies on the eastern edge of the ancient forest of "Andredsweald", and is not too far from London. Thus Shakespeare had a character who originated from Ashford.
Ashford’s importance as a growing agricultural and market town was confirmed in 1243 when it was incorporated, and by the end of the 16th century it had risen to become an important market town, primarily for livestock. The market was held in the High Street until 1856 when local farmers and businessmen relocated to Elwick Road and formed a market company that claims to be the oldest surviving registered company in England and Wales. There is still a regular street market in the town, although the market company has relocated outside the town and is used by some 5,000 farmers.
Parts of the parish church date from the 13th century but was substantially restored in the 15th century with many alterations since. In 1638 a free grammar school was founded here, it was built on the churchyard’s west side, and remained there until 1846, now used as a museum.