The pretty quaint market town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, England has much history. With little changed since the 18th Century.
It is known as one of Derbyshire’s finest old market towns.
Combining historic buildings and a wealth of high quality shops. The old cobbled market place, hidden alleys and yards are delightful to explore along with the wide and elegant Church street, which is considered to be the finest street of Georgian
buildings in the whole of the county of Derbyshire.
Many important and famous people have coloured the history of Ashbourne including Dr. Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie),
Izaak Walton, Thomas Moore and George Eliot. Princess Victoria (later to be Queen Victoria) passed through the town in 1832 and took a ‘comfort break’ at the Green Man hotel.
So I am sure you are picturing a highly civilized part of the country, BUT that is all about to change, for two days a year madness reins in this beautiful part of the country,
those quaint little stores get boarded up and any local with an ounce of sense go into hiding because of SHROVETIDE ~ a two day game of football played through the streets of the town.
The game is played every Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and consists of two teams.
The two teams that play the game are known as the Up'Ards and the Down'Ards (My family were actually the Down’ards). Up'Ards traditionally are those town members born north of Henmore Brook, which runs through the town,
and Down'Ards are those born south of the river Dove. Despite the name, the ball is rarely kicked, though it is legal to kick, carry or throw it. Instead it generally moves through the town in a series of
hugs, like a giant scrum in rugby, made up of dozens if not hundreds of people. There are two goal posts 3 miles apart, one at Sturston Mill (where the Up'Ards attempt to score), the other at Clifton Mill (where the Down'Ards score).
The Shrovetide football game is as old as the hills and has been played for centuries - possibly for more than 1,000 years.
There are many versions as to the true origins of the game - but the most popular seems to be the theory that the 'ball' was originally a head tossed into the waiting crowd following an execution.
The game has received true 'Royal Assent' only twice - in 1928 the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, turned up the ball. This is when the event officially earned the designation
Royal Shrovetide Football. Later, in 2003, HRH Prince Charles turned up the ball. He had agreed to start the game for the two previous years but had to cancel due to the death of his aunt, Princess Margaret, and Foot-and-Mouth, which forced the cancellation
of the game.
Shrove Tuesday in England is Pancake Day ~ where we traditionally eat the following pancakes, which I guess are more crepe like than the pancakes you eat here.
So to celebrate this special day, my sons and I could not resist making our old English Pancakes (this actual recipe was the one I was taught in high school)
Pancakes ~ serves 4
100g/4oz A P Flour
Pinch of salt
250 ml Milk
Oil for frying
Put the flour and salt into a bowl.
Drop the egg in the center, add a little milk and beat well with a whisk until smooth.
Whisk in the rest of the milk a little at a time.
Heat a little oil in the frying pan (there should just be enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
Ideally use a 6” pan.
When the oil is hot, add enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan/ Cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottom of the pancake is golden brown, then toss or turn it over and
cook the other side.
Best served sprinkled with a little sugar and some freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Below is a small video of this years Shrovetide.