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Ashburton

Ashburton Bull Ring - North Street Ashburton town centre

Ashburton lies in the heart of the South Devon countryside on the southern slopes of Dartmoor. It is roughly half way between Plymouth and Exeter and is an ideal base from which to explore the whole region from the moor to the coast. Among the various activities offered in the area are walking, pony trekking, canoeing and fishing. In addition, there are a variety of good food outlets and plenty of places to stay.

There are many lovely old buildings in this ancient stannary town which dates from Saxon times and has grown along the banks of the River Ashburn and its tributary the Balland Stream. The Parish Church of St Andrew has an impressive exterior with a 92 feet high tower. Near the base of this tower is the grave of a French prisoner of war who died in 1815, at the very end of the Napoleonic Wars. The church was originally erected in the 12th century but entirely rebuilt in the 15th century. There is a memorial to Lord Dunning penned by his friend Samuel Johnson and an ancient Parish Chest in the North Transept Chapel.

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Ashburton Methodist church Ashburton Methodist church
 John Wesley once declared that Ashburton was the most heathen town he had ever visited. Apparently he said this about many towns through which he passed. Eventually the Ashburton Methodist Church was built in 1835. Today the church is not only used for worship, but also serves as a community centre. In 1882, when the Benedictine monks came to Buckfast Abbey, there was not a single Catholic in Ashburton.

Around the turn of the century, Abbot Boniface Natter decided to revive Catholic life in the area. The first Mass was celebrated in a temporary chapel in a barn in 1911 and it was not until 1935 that the Church of Our Lady and St Petroc was opened.

Other buildings of note include the Card House, which is now a small supermarket, was once a gaming house. The slate hung frontage is carved with the different suits of a pack of cards. The Mermaid Inn, now a hardware store, was where General Fairfax the Civil War Roundhead leader stayed. Its medieval granite arched doorway is of interest. The Golden Lion was originally built in 1790 for a surgeon. It was the home of the Monster Raving Loony Party until 2000 but is now privately owned.

Ashburton Museum is housed in a building which was once a brush factory. It houses an interesting collection which, in addition to items of local interest, includes a large display of North American Indian artefacts.

The Chapel of St Lawrence is one of the town’s oldest and most interesting buildings. It started life as a private chapel for the Bishop of Exeter. In 1314 he gave the Chapel to the town to be administered by the Guild of St Lawrence, on the stipulation that a Chantry School was maintained there. This became a Grammar School, which celebrated 600 years in 1914. The school closed in 1938 due to a fall in numbers but the building was still used as an annex to the local primary schools until 1994. The building is now used as a Heritage Centre throughout the summer season.

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Ashburton Town Hall Ashburton Town Hall
River Dart Adventures is close to Ashburton on the southern slopes of Dartmoor. It comprises of about ninety acres of lovely parkland, once part of a Victorian country estate, on either side of the River Dart. About three miles down the road from Ashburton is Buckfastleigh, a small town with a wealth of family attractions.

Ashburton's nearest tor on Dartmoor is Buckland Beacon. From this high point there is a magnificent panorama of deep and wooded valleys, with the River Dart winding away towards Dartmeet and the wild moorland hills beyond. Buckland Beacon is 1281 feet above sea level. A local stone-mason has cut the Ten Commandments into the granite rock. There are many other interesting walks around Ashburton.