No 4 Middle Row, Ashford Town

no 4 with orange cottage

No 4 Middle Row stands out.  On one side is the John Wallis pub; on the other the ‘Mobile Cottage’, with its vivid orange shop signage.  They all have the Kent Peg tiles on their roofs, but No 4 draws your attention for a number of reasons.  First, its gable faces the street, facing west .   In the 16th century, when this property was built, many townhouse shops were built with their fronts parallel to the street.  The gable is plastered and painted, concealing the timber that is apparent at the opticians at 7 North Street, mentioned here.  So, another old building, adjoining the Market buildings mentioned here

no 4 side view
Side beams have been plastered and painted over.

An additional feature of this low shop-front which captures the eye, however, is its nineteenth century balcony with cast iron filigree railings, supported by iron columns.  It makes an elegant appeal to the prosperous middle-class customers the Victorian butcher’s shop was trying to attract.

No 4 royal sun alliance badbe
Sun Alliance badge fixed to the front of the building, to show it had insurance. Private fire engines, serving the insurance companies, only attended properties that were insured.  What would have happened to the buildings either side, one wonders.  Would they have been allowed to simply burn?


Since the Millenium, this building has housed estate agents.  First, Miles and Barr, and now, Hunters.  Before that, it was home to the PDSA charity for more than 15 years, and until the early 1980s, it was occupied by the florist and fruiterer W  Trice, who had another property on Bank Street.

no 4 windows

For much of the 20th century, Waghorne family butchers served their customers from here, continuing a heritage that saw the 19th and early 20th century Doe and Crust* families also working as butchers from these premises.

Look at those lovely names.  Doe is reminiscent of the deer mentioned in the King’s Wood post – perhaps they sold haunches of venison.  Crust is a surname that shares its heritage with Kent.  It is a Middle English Kentish name, deriving from the Old French ‘Crouste’ meaning crust of bread: a nickname implying a stubborn or obstinate person.  Similarly, ‘Waghorne’ means to shake or brandish an instrument made from the horn of an animal.  So, as a nickname, “Waghorn” would have been acquired by a particularly enthusiastic or officious horn-blower or trumpeter.  The first recorded spelling of the family name in the UK is shown to be that of Roger Waggehorn, which was dated 1332, in “Medieval Records of Kent”, during the reign of King Edward II, known as “The Father of the Navy”, 1327 – 1377. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax.

These solidly Kentish names, fulfilling a job of butchering in these market buildings, continued a heritage, linked to the livestock market,  that had been going on for hundreds of years.

*I love ‘hearing’ the words Doe and Crust together – they should have been bakery partners – even  if Doe ought to be spelt Dough in this context …

2 thoughts on “No 4 Middle Row, Ashford Town

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