Fires of Ashwell

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Fires of Ashwell' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Fires of Ashwell' page
Photo:Angell's Barn - 2011

Angell's Barn - 2011

Jackie Embury

Photo:Fire damage Angell's Barn - 2011

Fire damage Angell's Barn - 2011

Jackie Embury

Document typed by Jackie Embury from Miss Hislop's handwritten green book owned by Janet Chennells


Old Ashwell was for the most part thatched, and this no doubt had a bearing on the disastrous fires which from time to time devastated the village.  There was one such fire in 1622.  This had to be watched by day and night by the men of the village who were paid £1, a large sum in those days.

The people of Ashwell by this, thought they would have an up-to-date fire engeon to throw water and this cost the sum of 8/-.  In four years the engeon required mending and this cost 1/-.  The engeon was kept in the church.

The next big fire was in 1795 and this destroyed many houses.  A certain Ann Hart lost everything she possessed, and was granted a licence from the highest authorities to appeal for help from the whole of England, from Berwick to the South Coast, and appeals were made from most of the pulpits throughout the land.

On February 2nd 1850 the “Awful fire of Ashwell” broke out.  It started at eleven o’clock at night, a little to the west from the centre of Ashwell, either on the premises of Mr. J. Westrope or Mr T. Chapman.

The wind was high and was coming from the south-west.  It took less than twenty minutes to shroud in flames farms and cottages and it rendered at least thirty-two families to be homeless.

The damage done cost from £25,000 to £35,000.  There were three malting in full working order, six large farm-houses, twenty-six large cottages and two other houses, as well as the handsome Independent Chapel.  A man who later died in America confessed that he had set fire to Ashwell.

A native of Ashwell, who was staying in London on the night of the fire, said that he had a vision in which he saw the village in flames.  The next day he came down to Ashwell and was surprised to find much of the village in ruins.

This man also saw in his vision a man running through the village setting it alight as he ran.


There is still evidence of the Great Fire of Ashwell 1850, the two photos show scorched and crazed wood on the end of Angell's barn in Silver Street (demolished in 2013 now houses).  There are also marks still evident on the United Reformed Church.  Jackie Embury

This page was added on 29/07/2011.
Comments about this page

My late Father told me HIS Grandfather was the owner of Ashwell Farm. I am 70years old. Nathan Bond (Scott) is buried in the garden of your Church, I have seen the grave. Another name on the birth certificates I have is "Waller". Have birth and death certificates stowed away but don't want to keep taking them out.

By wendy miller
On 08/05/2012

Dear Wendy, I am sorry but it is hard to identify a farm known as 'Ashwell Farm'. - It could be Ashwell End Farm but more research is needed.

By Peter Greener
On 08/05/2012

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