I relocated to Ashford just over four years ago, having lived in London all my life. It was the proximity to the Capital which made me feel less nervous about making the move – just 37 minutes on the high-speed to St Pancras. And Ashford was ideal for all the more pragmatic decisions needed to be made when you have a family: great schools for the kids … Seaside: half an hour’s drive away … Fields, forests, nature: five minutes in the car or a ten minute cycle. Get them away from the computer. Exhaust them with all that fresh air. Mission completed.
Now that we’ve settled into the area and, as I read more about Ashford’s enormous development in the next few years, I’ve been wondering what came before. I have an MSc in architectural conservation and have always been interested in buildings. Yet, more broadly, I’ve called this website ‘Ashford Heritage’ because heritage combines my favourite things: people, buildings, history, narrative – engaging stories about people’s lives in years, decades, centuries gone by, and their relation to place. The words, or the clothes, or the history may be different, yet we share a connection with the past; understand the present; and can feel excited for the future through understanding the tokens and symbols of our local heritage. We have inhabited the same buildings at winter’s dusk, or walked through the same cornfields with the warmth of the summer sun on our faces. We have experienced the same emotions of joy: cooing at a new baby in a family bedroom, or desolation, burying a loved one at a nearby cemetery. Regardless of which century we live in, we share the same human qualities, be it grit, ingenuity, perseverance or passion.
So, I will be blogging about what I discover: from visits to Ashford Museum in the centre of the old market town, to trying the cycle lanes along the ancient Pilgrim’s route of Canterbury Road; padding through the bluebells at King’s Wood, or geo-cacheing with my smartphone and the kids around Magazine Road. It’s both the original and the modern; the primeval and the present: it’s Ashford’s heritage.