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Date:1086 - 2015 (c.)

Description:Description: Ashley is situated in the north-west of Staffordshire. The name appears to be of Anglo-Saxon origin and to mean ‘ash tree clearing’ or ‘ash lea’. In the Domesday Survey of 1086, it appears as Esselie and was held by Roger Earl of Shrewsbury and under-tenanted to Geoffrey. The manor was valued at 15s and consisted then of two hides, amounting to some 240 acres, and woodland of one mile by half a mile.

Ashley appears to have suffered badly as a result of the Black Death in 1349 when its value was substantially reduced by loss of population. By 1532-33, 23 families were listed there. In the Hearth Tax returns of 1666, the population had increased to 43 households, which were assessed for tax with a further 12 listed as not being chargeable. The largest property, with seven hearths, belonged to Mr Lightfoot, the rector of Ashley. By 1851 there were 853 inhabitants.

Tradition has it that the church at Ashley was founded by David Kynric or Kenrick, as a thanksgiving for his safe return from either the Battle of Poitiers or the Battle of Crecy. However, what is more likely is that he paid for the restoration of the church in the 14th century, as there was certainly a church at Ashley by 1205. The present building has a tower which dates from the early 17th century but the rest of the church dates from 1860-1862 having been designed by J Ashdown, a London architect. A new memorial chapel on the south side was built at the expense of Thomas Kinnersly of Clough Hall and contains a number of memorials to members of the family. There is a Catholic church built in 1823. By the 19th century, there were also Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, Congregational and Free Gospellers chapels in the village. The first school, a National school, was built in 1829.

Crate making was the main industry here, supplying crates for the packing of ware in the Potteries. The wood came from the nearby Bishop’s Wood.

At Willowbridge Wells, which is partly in the parish of Ashley, there were a large number of sulphur springs, noted in Dr Robert Plot’s ‘Natural History of Staffordshire’ in 1686, for their curative powers. In the mid 17th century Jane, Lady Gerard of Bromley built a bath house and lodging there for those visiting to seek a cure. Remains of the bath house still exist. An account of many of those cured by the springs was published in 1676.