Ashburton is an ancient market town situated on the southern edge of Dartmoor whose name has derived from the River Ashburn - "the town by the Ashburn stream". Its parish holds a wealth of historical interest and connections with farming and traditions dating back to Saxon times.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Essebreton, an alternative for how the parish derived its name comes from perhaps a "farmstead or village by the stream where there were ash trees". Settlement in the area probably dates back to prehistoric times because of the evidence of ancient settlements all across Dartmoor.
It's prosperity derived from being one of Devon's former Stannary towns, as early as 1285 although the mining of tin in the area is believed to date back to Roman times. Ashburton also prospered from its connection with the woollen industry, peaking in the early C19th, but its collapse saw the population of Ashburton decline between 1851 and 1901 where its population reduced by almost a third.
Ashburton was once part of the main stage coach route between Plymouth and Exeter, having at least 30 coaching inns at its peak, although the introduction of the Railways saw their decline and only 6 of them survive today.
Information from Devon Places (Source: Devon Local Studies Library) shows that both a market and fair were held in the town from the C14th to 1935. A Turnpike gate was established in 1755.
Source: 1801-1991 Census ©Crown Copyright
Data originally from Devon Facts and Figures part of the Devon County Council website. [no longer available]
Map of the Area