Ashwell gets its name from The Springs, which are the source of the Rhee, a main tributary of the Cam. The water wells out beneath the ash trees just below the eastern end of the High Street. Nearby, archaeologists have recently found evidence of continuous human occupation from Bronze Age to the present day. High on the hill to the west of the village is Arbury Banks, an Iron Age fort. Icknield Way, the prehistoric track running from Hunstanton, passes through the southern part of the Parish.
The Manor and Church of Ashwell was given to the Abbot of Westminster in 1065 by Edward the Confessor. The Doomsday Book (1086) records that Avebury, the Abbot of St.Peters, Westminster, holds “Escewell and that there was one presbyt (priest)”. The town was then one of the four largest in Hertfordshire with a regular market. The Abbot held it until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1540. It was then given to a short-lived diocese of Westminster and then to the Diocese of London in 1550 where it remained until the 19th century.
|The Springs in Ashwell|