A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1968.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In this section
- ASHTON UNDER HILL
ASHTON UNDER HILL
Ashton under Hill lies on the east side of Bredon Hill, 5 miles south-west of Evesham. The parish is 1,664 a. in area and roughly semi-circular in shape. (fn. 1) It was transferred from Gloucestershire to Worcestershire in 1931. (fn. 2)
The western part of the parish lies on the steep slope of the hill; the highest point in the north-west corner of the parish is 850 ft. Two spurs of the hill, Little Hill and Holcombe Nap, project into the eastern part of the parish which lies in the valley at 150–300 ft. The south of the parish is crossed by the Carrant brook, the north by the Holcombe brook, one of several streams which descend from Bredon Hill. The eastern part is on the Lower Lias, the land between c. 300 and 500 ft. is on the Middle Lias, and above are the successive strata of Upper Lias and Inferior Oolite. (fn. 3) The land has been used for mixed agriculture; in 1966 there was a greater extent of arable than formerly. The main area of woodland is Ashton Wood on Bredon Hill, which covered 49 a. in the 16th century. (fn. 4) In 1966 the wood consisted partly of coniferous plantations. The valley to the south of Holcombe Nap is also well wooded.
The village has developed along its main thoroughfare, the Beckford-Elmley Castle road, which runs from south to north below the hill. Along the single street the houses are set fairly close but stretch for nearly a mile. The focus of the village was at the road junction east of the church where there is a small green and the steps and shaft of a cross, probably of the early 15th century, (fn. 5) which later served as a sundial. The stocks, which are said to have been still in use in the 19th century, were also at the cross. The village pound was in the main street opposite the school until the early 20th century. (fn. 6) There are two small outlying settlements, Paris and Shaw Green, on the west and higher up the hill than the main village; there is a tradition that Paris was founded by the Baldwyn family in the early Middle Ages. (fn. 7) The Evesham Road Cottages near the southern boundary of the parish were built in the 19th century. One of the group, Enfield Cottage, is an ornamental cottage built in 1860; (fn. 8) it is faced with roughcast and has ball finials on the gateposts and porch, and windows with ornamented stone surrounds. Ashton Wood House, in a secluded position on the edge of the hill, is the only outlying farmstead. It is an early 17th-century house with twin stone gables on the north and south and dripmoulds to the mullioned windows and arched doorway. The house, which has a timber-framed barn, is perhaps contemporary with the creation of the inclosed farm belonging to it in the 18th century. (fn. 9)
Stanley's Farm, a wholly timber-framed building north-east of the cross, was named after a 19thcentury occupant (fn. 10) but is probably the oldest house in the village. It incorporates a medieval cruckframed range of four bays, of which the one on the south end has been incorporated in a 17th-century barn. The two northern bays, divided by an open arch-braced truss with heavily smoke-blackened timbers, originally formed an open hall with a screens passage at its south end. In the 16th or 17th century a floor was inserted and a chimney built, backing on to the cross passage. A close-studded twostory cross-wing to the north of the hall is of later date than the cruck-framed structure and has a 17th-century extension at the rear which at one time contained a kitchen.
Many of the houses in the village were built by the early 18th century when there were said to be 50 houses in Ashton; (fn. 11) the village had apparently decreased in size by the beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 12) A feature of the village is the number of 17th- or early 18th-century farm-houses, which probably reflects the high proportion of fairly wealthy yeoman families living in the parish at that period. (fn. 13) In 1662 one house in Ashton had 7 hearths, another had 5, two had 4, and seven had 3. (fn. 14) Lower Manor Farm, (fn. 15) remodelled in 1638 probably by one of the Baldwyn family, (fn. 16) is a two-story house with a cross-wing on the north, faced with coursed rubble and brick, and has a Cotswold stone roof, gabled dormers and an arched stone doorway; it incorporates an earlier timber-framed house of which the south wing may once have been an open hall. A coursed rubble dovecot with an arched stone doorway and a stone mullioned window with dripmould, and a large timber-framed barn adjoin the house. Middle Farm is a 17th- or early 18th-century house of coursed rubble; it has stone mullioned windows with dripmoulds and a four-centred arched doorway with decorated spandrels. Hill View in Cotton's Lane is a timber-framed house faced with rubble and has some blocked stone-mullioned windows with a continuous dripmould; it was perhaps part of a larger building. The Close, in the main street, and Orchard House and another house, both in Cotton's Lane, are mainly 17th-century timber-framed farmhouses. The Croft, faced with brick in the 19th century, incorporates part of an earlier house and an arched stone doorway bearing the date 1727. The house called the Manor House was built c. 1700 in stone on an H-shaped plan, and has gables and dormers and massive stone gate-posts with ball finials; it appears to have been the house belonging to an estate owned by the Higford family of Dixton. (fn. 17)
Of the later houses, Sherbourne House north of the Manor House is a late 18th-century brick building and has a doorway with pediment, pilasters, and fanlight. Rockland House, a 3-story brick house with a fanlight over the door, was built in 1832 by one of the Baldwyn family. (fn. 18) There is a stone house north of it probably of a similar date with an ironwork porch. Charity Farm, a 19th- and 20th-century brick house with a stone gateway with a sundial, was the farm-house of an estate in Ashton which belonged to the Deacle charity school at Bengeworth. (fn. 19)
Most of the cottages in the village are timberframed, and many have thatched roofs. A timberframed cottage south of the school has a projecting bread oven built of rubble. There are also some 19th-century brick cottages. In the first half of the 20th century Ashton was considerably enlarged, mainly by building on the north of the village. The first council houses were built c. 1926, some more in the 1930's, and those on the south of the village in the 1940's and early 1950's. (fn. 20) In the early 1960's further houses were built, by private owners, and in 1966 new houses were being built in several parts of the village.
The Cheltenham-Evesham road which runs through the south-east of the parish was turnpiked in 1789; (fn. 21) a toll-house stood at the corner of the road leading to Ashton. (fn. 22) Before 1879 the usual route to Evesham from Ashton was by the road running north through the village. (fn. 23) The Midland Railway's line from Ashchurch to Evesham and a station at Ashton were opened in 1864. The line was closed in 1963. (fn. 24)
Twenty-seven inhabitants of Ashton were enumerated in 1086, (fn. 25) and 33 were assessed for tax in 1327. (fn. 26) There were 77 adult inhabitants c. 1380, (fn. 27) and 32 households in 1563. (fn. 28) There was apparently a rise in population during the 17th century, when much building took place, and the inhabitants were estimated at c. 200 in the early 18th century. (fn. 29) In 1729 the population was depleted by plague which was said at the time to have caused over 45 deaths in the first 5 months of the year; (fn. 30) the registers recorded 31 burials in that period and gave pleurisy and quinsy as the cause. (fn. 31) The population was 305 in 1801 and remained fairly constant until the 1840's, when it began to increase, until in 1871 it was 457. There was then a fall to 315 in 1901. (fn. 32) With the new building in the 20th century the population rose steadily to 427 in 1961. (fn. 33)
In 1876 a Men's Friendly Society was formed at Ashton, (fn. 34) and its annual procession in Whitsun week provided one of the main events of the village year. The society died out before the First World War. (fn. 35) A village hall adjoining the school was built in the early 1960's. (fn. 36)
There was an alehouse in the village in 1660. (fn. 37) By 1885 three public houses were in existence. The 'White Hart', at White Hart Villa at the north end of the village had closed by 1920; the 'Plough and Harrow' at Plough Cottages south of the Manor House closed c. 1939; (fn. 38) the 'Star' on the west side of the village street north of the church remained in 1966.
Manors and Other Estates.
In 991 land at Ashton belonged to the bishopric of Worcester, (fn. 39) and, as that estate like Beckford manor appears to have later passed from the bishop to the Crown, the two estates may have even then been linked. In 1066 Turbert, a royal thegn, held 8 hides at ASHTON which before 1071 were joined with Beckford manor by William FitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford. (fn. 40) The estate then descended with Beckford manor until the late 16th century, when it was divided between the Wakeman and Franklin families. (fn. 41)
In 1066 another 4 hides at ASHTON were held by a thegn, and in 1086, by Girard, probably Girard the chamberlain. (fn. 42) The estate then may have passed to the lords of Tewkesbury manor, from whom it was held by commendation in 1066, (fn. 43) for one part of it was apparently later held by the lord of Oxenton manor, which had been part of the demesne of Tewkesbury manor, (fn. 44) and another part by the Abbey of Bolbec together with land in Aston on Carrant. (fn. 45) The Oxenton manor estate in Ashton was mentioned in 1295, (fn. 46) and it passed to successive lords of Oxenton; all the land had probably been enfranchised by the early 17th century, (fn. 47) and the last known reference to rent and fealty owed to Oxenton manor by an Ashton tenant was in 1630. (fn. 48) A freehold estate held of Oxenton manor by John le Power in 1339 and by the Abingdon family in the 15th century included land in Ashton. (fn. 49) The estate of Bolbec Abbey, mentioned in 1201, passed to Sir John Cheyne of Beckford c. 1386 and then descended with Beckford manor. (fn. 50) Another part of Girard's estate may have been granted by the lord of Tewkesbury manor to Tewkesbury Abbey, which held a yardland at Ashton in 1177. (fn. 51)
In 1086 there were 4 ploughs and 12 servi and ancillae on the demesne of the 8-hide estate at Ashton. (fn. 52) There was only one plough on the demesne of the 4-hide estate. (fn. 53) The demesne of Beckford manor included 3 plough-lands in Ashton in 1291, (fn. 54) but no demesne at Ashton was mentioned in 1371; (fn. 55) in 1470 only two small pieces of 'pennyland' were recorded. (fn. 56) In the late 16th century the 49 a. of Ashton Wood belonged to Beckford manor. (fn. 57)
In 1086 Beckford manor had 10 villani and 4 bordarii with 6 ploughs in Ashton. (fn. 58) In 1421 20 houses and 10 cottages in Ashton belonged to that manor. (fn. 59) In 1470 18¼ yardlands and other odd parcels of land were held by 20 customary tenants. Most of the holdings were 1½ yardland or less, but one was 2¼ and another was 2 yardlands. (fn. 60) In the late 16th century there were 11 tenants on the Wakemans' estate in Ashton: one tenant had 96 a., another had over 70 a., 5 held c. 40 a., one held 18 a., and there were 3 cottagers. All the tenants held by copy for from 1 to 3 lives and widows had freebench. (fn. 61)
In 1086 on Girard's estate there were 2 villani with one plough. (fn. 62) In 1338 Oxenton manor had 10 tenants in Ashton; one held 2 yardlands, another held 1 yardland, there were 6 customary tenants with a house and 6 a. each, and 4 cottagers with 1 a. each. The customary tenants that had all their labour-services commuted paid 7s. 4d. rent; those who still did works — presumably on the demesne at Oxenton — were allowed to deduct 1d. for every 2 days a week worked from October to July and 3d. during August and September. (fn. 63) In 1474 there were the same 2-yardland and 1-yardland estates; the other land was enfranchised and held by 3 tenants. (fn. 64) In 1574 the 2-yardland and 1-yardland estates were held together by copy for 2 lives; the freeholds were 2 yardlands, 1½ yardland, and 1 yardland that was divided among 3 tenants. (fn. 65)
In the late 16th century there were five main areas of open fields in Ashton, in four of which a 4-course rotation, including a fallow, was followed, while the fifth grew crops every year. In 1585 a 3-yardland estate had 132 ridges in the open fields. (fn. 66) The crops were probably those grown in the 18th century, wheat, barley, and pulse; (fn. 67) in 1627 tobacco was being illegally grown. (fn. 68)
In 1421 40 a. of meadow in Ashton were mentioned; (fn. 69) in the late 16th century there were 192 a. of common meadow mainly in the south of the parish, lying along the Carrant brook, (fn. 70) and in the northeast. The main pasture was the sheep-common on Bredon Hill, estimated at 308 a. (fn. 71) There was a shepherd in Ashton c. 1380. (fn. 72) In the late 16th century the 11 tenants on the Beckford manor estate in Ashton kept a total of 480 sheep ; one had a flock of 100, another one of 80. (fn. 73) In 1627 the stint on the hill was 32 sheep to the yardland, and at that time Edward Wakeman, the lord of Beckford, was apparently overburdening the common with large flocks. (fn. 74) The main cow-pasture was the New Leasow of 32 a., probably on the lower part of the hill. (fn. 75) There were also ridges of pasture in the open fields, and leys held in severalty in the common pastures; one estate included 28 in the late 16th century. (fn. 76) Some leys on Furze Hill in the north of the parish apparently provided the tenants with several rights of fuel-gathering. (fn. 77) In the late 15th century some tenants were consolidating their holdings of pasture strips by exchange. (fn. 78)
Although the 11 Ashton tenants of one part of Beckford manor held by copy c. 1590, (fn. 79) the sale of another part had probably resulted in the enfranchisement of most of its tenants. Three yardlands held by a free tenant in 1587 were probably former customary land, (fn. 80) and two other former customary yardlands were free in 1628. (fn. 81) In the late 18th century all the larger farms on Lord Tyrconnel's estate were leasehold; there were only 4 small copyholds, 3 comprising only houses. (fn. 82)
Of the several substantial yeoman families in Ashton in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Baldwyns held land in the parish for six centuries. Two members of the family were assessed for tax at relatively high figures in 1327, (fn. 83) and in 1470 Thomas Baldwyn held a house and two yardlands from Beckford manor. (fn. 84) In the late 16th century William Baldwyn held a copyhold of 96 a. from the Wakemans, (fn. 85) and in 1771 John Baldwyn was leasing an estate of over 200 a. from Lord Tyrconnel. (fn. 86) In 1787 his son Bernard (d. 1816) (fn. 87) was the tenant of a large part of the land of the Blackburn and Higford estates, (fn. 88) and Bernard's son, William Henry (d. 1857), (fn. 89) had bought an estate in Ashton by 1832. (fn. 90) William Henry's son, also William, who was regarded as lord of the manor in 1870, (fn. 91) owned Lower Manor Farm and 612 a. of land in Ashton at his death in 1898. (fn. 92) Stephen Baldwyn, a younger son of Bernard Baldwyn (d. 1816), owned Ashton Wood Farm in the early 19th century. (fn. 93) Other important families in the 16th and 17th centuries included the Curtises, who owned 3 houses and 3 yardlands in 1587, (fn. 94) the Robertses, who held a large house called Stacy's Place and 3 yardlands of Oxenton manor from 1543, (fn. 95) the Hickses, who in 1470 had held a house and 2¼ yardlands, which was enfranchised by 1628, (fn. 96) and the Willises, who held a freehold of 1¾ yardland in 1630. (fn. 97) The Roberts, Hicks, and Willis families all had substantial houses in Ashton in 1662, (fn. 98) and the Robertses and Hickses remained important farmers at the beginning of the 18th century. (fn. 99)
In the 18th century the arable open fields of the parish were grouped, as in the 16th century, in five divisions: Evesham Way field on the north-east of the village; the fields on both sides of the Dean (an inclosed meadow near the eastern boundary of the parish); Thornhurst and Beanhill in the south-east of the parish; Carrant field and Beckford Way field in the south and south-west; and the Upper and Lower Groaton on the east of the village. There was also some arable on Little Hill, west of the village, that had been converted from pasture in the early 17th century. (fn. 100) A four-course rotation with wheat, barley, pulse, and a fallow was practised, with one division, as in the 16th century, under continuous cultivation. Ridges in the open fields were small, some under ⅓ a. There were also closes of arable, some perhaps probably former open field land; in 1771 one tenant had c. 10 a. and another c. 7 a. of inclosed arable. (fn. 101)
An agreement of 1627 to inclose the Little Hill (fn. 102) and another of 1701 to inclose all the common pastures and open fields of the parish (fn. 103) were only partly implemented, if at all. There had, however, been some inclosure by private agreement before 1627, (fn. 104) and by 1773 most of the meadow was inclosed; (fn. 105) there was also an inclosed farm of 63 a. on Bredon Hill. (fn. 106) Parliamentary inclosure, which took place with that of Beckford in 1773, affected 920 a., over half the parish. Lord Tyrconnel received 352 a. for his land and tithes, Henry Wakeman 110 a. for land and tithes, the Vicar of Beckford 79 a. for his tithes, the Revd. Henry Higford 154 a., and the Deacle charity 80 a.; (fn. 107) two other proprietors received over 30 a., and there were 13 smaller allotments varying from ¼ a. to 11 a. (fn. 108)
In 1792 the parish was said to contain pasture and arable in equal proportions, (fn. 109) but in 1801 only 390 a. were returned as arable. Oats, potatoes, and turnips had by then been added to the pre-inclosure crops. (fn. 110) There were from 6 to 8 farms in the parish during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. (fn. 111) In 1901 the arable acreage was roughly the same as in 1801, (fn. 112) and in the early 20th century the farms were largely occupied with cattle-rearing. (fn. 113) One farm had a flock of 200–300 sheep. From the 1890's there was also some market-gardening, (fn. 114) and by 1931 there were 5 market-gardens in the parish. (fn. 115) Cider-making from the orchards in the parish, mentioned in the late 18th century, (fn. 116) continued in the 19th century and early 20th. (fn. 117) In 1940 there were two commercial fruit-growers in Ashton. (fn. 118) In 1966 the farms were mainly arable, growing cereals and green vegetables. The Bredon Hill area of the parish, however, was entirely pasture; one farm had a dairy herd, and there were some sheep.
There was a weaver at Ashton in 1608, (fn. 119) and sheets and table-linen were made in the village in the late 18th century. (fn. 120) In 1919 gloves were made in several cottages in the village. (fn. 121) There was a smith at Ashton in 1327 and 1608. (fn. 122) A blacksmith continued to work in the village during the 19th century and until c. 1931. (fn. 123) In 1868 the smithy stood in the grounds of Rockland House. (fn. 124) There were 3 carpenters in the parish in 1608, (fn. 125) and one was mentioned in 1712. (fn. 126) In 1831 18 families in Ashton were supported by trades, compared with 43 by agriculture. (fn. 127) A wheelwright was working in the village in the second half of the 19th century, (fn. 128) and in 1889 one man was described as wheelwright, carpenter, and blacksmith, and made agricultural implements and wagons. (fn. 129) From the late 19th century until c. 1940 a carpenter in the village specialized in making hurdles and ladders; (fn. 130) in 1889 another made coffins. In 1894 there was a coachbuilder at Ashton. There was a shoemaker in the village between 1897 and 1931, and a basket-maker in 1897. (fn. 131) There were two thatchers in the village in the early 20th century and one continued working until the 1950's. In 1966 c. 25 people worked on the farms full-time, and many of the women did parttime work on the land. Most of the adult inhabitants were employed at Smith's and Dowty's factories, or were professional people working in Evesham. (fn. 132)
The only records of manorial jurisdiction in Ashton known to survive are in the court rolls of Oxenton manor. Two 15th- and several 16th-century rolls deal with tenures and the neglect of houses by the Ashton tenants. A tithingman for part of Ashton was elected in Oxenton manor court. (fn. 133) The tenants of the part of Ashton in Tewkesbury hundred made suit at the hundred court in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. (fn. 134) Frankpledge jurisdiction over the part of Ashton belonging to Beckford manor was claimed by the Prior of Beckford in 1287. (fn. 135)
The divisions in the manor probably hastened the decline of agricultural control by the manor courts; in 1627 agricultural policy was being decided by a meeting of the main landholders, and fines for not observing the decisions of the meeting were levied by the churchwardens. (fn. 136) There were two churchwardens from the mid-16th century. (fn. 137) Their accounts survive from 1771. The office, always filled by the more wealthy farmers, was sometimes held for several years without annual re-election; Bernard Baldwyn and William White were churchwardens from 1775 to 1785, in which period they rendered only two accounts. (fn. 138) Overseers' accounts survive for the years 1771–88. In 1775–6 the office was held by a woman. In 1771–2 the cost of building a man's house was paid by the overseers; otherwise the usual forms of relief were given. (fn. 139) There was the usual rise in the cost of relief in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (fn. 140) In 1836 Ashton became part of the Evesham Union; (fn. 141) it was transferred to the newly formed Pebworth Rural District in 1894, and back to the Evesham Rural District on becoming part of Worcestershire in 1931. (fn. 142) A joint parish council for Ashton and Beckford was established in 1920. (fn. 143)
There was a church at Ashton by 1071, when it had been granted, with the church of Beckford to which it was annexed, to the abbey of Cormeilles. (fn. 144) It remained a chapel-of-ease to Beckford in 1966.
In the early 16th century Ashton was served by a separate curate, (fn. 145) but later it was usually served by the curate of Beckford. (fn. 146) In 1563 the parishioners of Ashton complained that they lacked services because there was no resident curate, and they offered to pay the Vicar of Beckford 40s. a year for the right of hiring one themselves. (fn. 147) In the mid-18th and early 19th century there was a service held every Sunday at Ashton. (fn. 148) A priest's house was mentioned in 1563 when it was said to be in decay; (fn. 149) in 1704 it was described as a building of two bays. (fn. 150) It was probably the cottage at Ashton sold by the Vicar of Beckford in 1799. (fn. 151)
The church of ST. BARBARA, called St. Andrew's in the 12th and 16th centuries, (fn. 152) comprises nave, chancel, north aisle, west tower, and south porch. The Norman south doorway is the earliest part of the fabric. It has single shafts with scalloped capitals, a plain recessed tympanum, and ball ornament on the outer order of the arch. Fragments of Norman work survive set in the south wall of the chancel.
The lower stage of the tower is probably of the 13th century and there is a 13th-century cusped lancet window in the south wall of the nave. The gabled porch and the north aisle were added in the 14th century. Four windows in the aisle and one in the nave date from the 14th century, but both aisle and nave had a window added in the 15th or early 16th century, and in the early 19th century a copy of the 13th-century lancet was made in the east of the south wall. (fn. 153) The tower has an embattled upper stage with angle gargoyles of the 15th or early 16th century and the nave has embattled parapets of the same period. The nave arcade is of four arches in the style of the 15th or early 16th century. The chancel arch, of similar design, was rebuilt in the early 19th century. (fn. 154) The chancel was rebuilt in 1624 (fn. 155) by Sir John Franklin, who held the main part of the great tithes of Ashton; (fn. 156) details from the Franklin arms, a pair of dolphins carved in the heads of the lights and three lion heads ornamenting the hoodmould, appear in the east window. (fn. 157) The chancel is in 15th-century style with an embattled parapet, but the decoration round the head of the priest's door and in the east window indicates its later date. The north and south windows of the chancel probably incorporate 14th-century tracery from the earlier chancel, which appears to have been wider and lower. The pinnacles on the porch and the angles of the tower were probably added in 1624, and it is possible that the nave arcade was also part of the same rebuilding.
A massive angle buttress added on the north-east of the aisle is dated 1820. The church was restored in 1868 when a west gallery and wall, which partitioned off part of the north aisle for a schoolroom, were removed. At a further restoration in 1913 a Georgian plaster ceiling over the nave was taken down. (fn. 158)
The octagonal 15th-century font is decorated with quatrefoils and has foliated pendants beneath the bowl. (fn. 159) There is a fragment of medieval glass in one of the windows of the south wall. (fn. 160) The porch has stone benches and in the east wall a mutilated stoup.
Four bells were cast by Charles and John Rudhall in 1785, and one by the same foundry in 1827; (fn. 161) a sixth was added in 1946. (fn. 162) The plate includes an Elizabethan chalice and paten-cover. (fn. 163) The registers begin in 1586. (fn. 164) An acre of land allotted to the churchwardens at inclosure in 1773 (fn. 165) was used for church repairs in the early 19th century, when it produced a yearly rent of 23s.; (fn. 166) later the rent was used for bell-ropes and the land became known as the Rope Field. (fn. 167)
A minister was preaching at Ashton without a licence in 1605. (fn. 168) In 1672 Congregationalists were meeting at a house in the village, (fn. 169) but in 1676 there were said to be no nonconformists in Ashton. (fn. 170) In 1822 the house of William Hicks was being used as a nonconformist meeting-place, (fn. 171) and in 1835 and 1850 two other houses were licensed for use by Wesleyan Methodists. (fn. 172) The Wesleyans, who numbered c. 12 in 1849, were visited by a minister from Evesham. Services were discontinued in 1865 although there were still 9 members attending. (fn. 173) A few years later Baptists were meeting at the house of Herbert New, later called the Manor House, (fn. 174) and in 1881 a Baptist chapel was built on land given by New. (fn. 175) In the early 1920's the congregation of the chapel left the Baptist movement and formed a Free Church which was run by a local committee. A new chapel, begun in 1923, (fn. 176) was built on the same site with funds raised by public subscription. In 1966 the chapel, which had a congregation of c. 40, was served mainly by local preachers of whom there were several in the village. (fn. 177)
In 1818 there was said to be a desire for education in Ashton, (fn. 178) and in 1825 the 41 children in the parish were receiving some education, although of an inadequate kind; (fn. 179) in 1833, however, there was no school. (fn. 180) In 1856 there was a Sunday school which also taught day pupils in the summer. It was held in part of the north aisle of the church and had an income from subscriptions and an endowment of £200, apparently given by John Procter, a former churchwarden. (fn. 181) In 1868 the school was moved to a room in Stanley's Farm, (fn. 182) and in 1876 it was reopened as a Church of England school. A new building, presumably the surviving building on the east side of the main street, was built in 1878. (fn. 183) In 1879 a school board was formed (fn. 184) and took over the school. The attendance was 47 in 1880, when the Sunday school continued to be held. (fn. 185) The attendance, 37 in 1897, (fn. 186) had risen again to 45 in 1906. (fn. 187) The expansion of the village after c. 1926 further increased the attendance, and in the early 1960's the buildings were enlarged. (fn. 188) In 1966 the average attendance was 74. In the mid-19th century a private school was held by a Dr. Cox in one of the cottages in the village. (fn. 189) Bredon Hill County Secondary School, a large brick and glass building to the north of the village, was opened in 1965, (fn. 190) when it had an attendance of 180. (fn. 191)
Jane Dunn (d. 1880) gave by will £150 to be distributed in coal to the aged poor of the parish. (fn. 192) After c. 1945 the charity was distributed in cash. (fn. 193)