Our church, the Grade 1 listed ironstone and limestone St Mary the Virgin dates back to the 13th Century. The church is a fine example of 14th century architecture with traces of earlier work. Both the south door and the spire are thought to be 13th century. The tower has a corbel table of seven heads and beneath them are shields, one of which bears the arms of the Bassett family. Richard Bassett was Chief Justiciar of England in Norman times, founder of Launde Abbey in 1119 and associated with the neigbouring village of Sutton Bassett.
It is recorded in the reign of Richard The First (1189), that half of the patronage of Ashley Church was given to Pipewell Abbey by Peter de Ashley. This indicates the presence of a church in Ashley in the 12th century. The earlier building was probably a wooden structure with a square tower and thatched roof. A friar sent from Weston Priory would have conducted services.
In 1254, under Henry 111, it is recorded that the 'profits' of Ashley rectory were valued at '10 Marks' and under Henry V111, in 1535, at £17 10s 7d.
In the south aisle two stone hea and a piscine in the wall indicate that a Lady Chapel existed in pre-reformation times.
Ashley Church dates from the 13th century but was completely restored in 1865 by the Reverend Richard Pulteney to designs by noted Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott and Clayton and Bell.
The Chancel is described by English Heritage as 'An outstanding example of the Victorian Gothic style at its height'. The wall paintings in the chancel are Victorian and the work of Albert Bell. The registers date from 1588 and the church plate included a chalice and paten dated 1591.
The ancient front is situated on the south wall of the chancel. The font in the nave was given in 1865 and is cut out of a solid block of pink marble. There are five bells in the tower. The organ was installed in 1868 by the Rev. R.T. P. Puteney, who did so much for the church and the village during his 22 years as Rector. He died in 1874 and the stained glass east window was dedicated to his memory.
In 1973, a complete restoration of the wall paintings and gilding in the chancel was undertaken, the bulk of the cost being raised by the village people. The work was carried out by Mr. Peter Larkworthy, great grandson of Arthur Bell and resulted in the appearance of the chancel as seen today. At the same time, the elaborate chandeliers in the nave were re-decorated, each small shield bearing the intials of a member of the village at that time. The kneelers and cushions throughout the church were worked by a small group of village people between 1978 and 1980.
The church was re-wired and the chandeliers converted to electricity in 1993. The tower and spire were restored in 1994. Most windows were restored and repainted in 1996. In 2001, the bells were refurbished and re-hung and the clock was electrified with an auto-wind mechanism. In 2003, the east wall and window were repointed. In 2008, the chancel roof was replaced to preserve the paintings. The churchyard is in good order, a yew tree was planted for the Millennium and an area was established for cremated remains. In 2007, a church yard project planted thousands of bulbs and some native trees. In 2008, the lead roof of the chancel was replaced.
Our church is in a Benefice of 5 chuches with a Priest-in-Charge, Rev. Sally Hughes. It is in the Rural Deanery of Corby, under the Archdeaconry of Oakham in the Diocese of Peterborough.
Come and join us at our Church services - all are welcome.
Rector: Rev. Sally Hughes,
28 Rushton Road,
Tel: 01536 770998.