It is thought that Ashford originates from a settlement that was established around 893AD, which became large enough to have a mention in the doomsday book, listed with a church and two mills under the name "Essetesford" in 1086. Ashford was designated a market town in 1243, and by 1600 had risen to become an important market town, primarily for livestock.
Ashford is in the centre of Kent, and was one of the first towns in Kent that drastically changed into a highly developed town with modern standards. Ashford International railway station was opened on 28 February 1996 and received trains from France terminating at London Waterloo. Now trains terminate at London St Pancras International. The town also has an airport with regular flights to France. The town's name is derived from "ash tree" and "ford" (meaning "river crossing").
To the north east of Ashford is the smallest town in Britain - Wye.
The main roads into Ashford are the M20, which runs from the M25 via Maidstone and on to Folkestone, and the A2070, which connects Ashford with Hastings in the south and the A28 to Canterbury in the north.
Eurostar high-speed trains running from Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille (Europe), Calais (Fréthun) and Brussels (Zuid-Midi) stop at 1 Ashford International railway station (AFK, QDH IATA). Passengers travelling by Eurostar to the UK from Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille (Europe), Calais (Fréthun) and Brussels (Zuid-Midi) stations undergo UK passport/identity card checks in France/Belgium before boarding, rather than on arrival in the UK. The UK passport checks take place after the French/Belgian passport/identity card exit checks in the stations. However, UK customs checks take place on arrival in the UK.
Passengers travelling to France/Belgium from Ashford International go through French passport/identity card checks in the station before boarding the train, whilst selective customs checks take place on arrival in France/Belgium following disembarkation.
Ashford International is also served by domestic trains from several major London stations (see below).
Domestic trains to Ashford station are operated by Southeastern and Southern Railway from London St Pancras (typical journey time 35 – 37 minutes), London Cannon St, London Charing Cross, London Victoria Ebbsfleet, Dover Priory, Canterbury West, Ramsgate, and Margate. The high speed trains from London St Pancras cost significantly more than the slower trains from other London stations. The slower trains will take 80 minutes and stop at several intermediate stations.
Ashford International has onsite car parking for over 1000 vehicles.
Most services are run by Stagecoach.
A hire car is a good investment to explore the surrounding country. For example Canterbury is a few pleasant miles away and the "Park and Ride "bus service to the center of Canterbury is tremendous and saves many hassles parking.
- AFM Private Hire, ☏ .
- Ashford Premier Taxi, ☏ .
- Blue Line Taxis, ☏ .
- United Taxis, ☏ .
- Xpress Cars, ☏ .
By mini coaches & minibuses
- Scotland & Bates.
- Kent Minibus Hire - Nova Travel.
- Crosskeys Coaches.
- Minibus & Coach Hire in Ashford.
- 1 Biddenden vineyards. For local wine and cider (very good and strong!)
- 2 Willesborough Windmill, Hythe Road, Willesborough. Open to the public at weekends. A white smock mill built in 1869.
- 3 Ashford Green Corridor. A natural 'green' route through Ashford.
- 4 The Agricultural Museum, Brook (Wye Rural Museum), The Street, Brook.
- 5 Godinton House and Gardens.
- 6 Woodchurch Rare Breeds Centre.
- 7 Kent & East Sussex Railway. Operates between Tenterden and Bodiam in East Sussex, passing through some very attractive countryside. A one-day adult unlimited ticket costs £27.50. Bodiam Castle is at the end of the line. A trip on the train and a visit to the castle make a good day out. There is a pub at the entrance to the castle which provides good food. The castle has a gift shop and a tea room.
- Hiking. The surrounding countryside, particularly the North Downs, are good for walking, with the Pilgrims' Way, North Downs Way and the Stour Valley Walk all in the area, catering for the long distance walker or the day-tripper.
- Woodland walks. Ashford is surrounded by woodlands which are ideal for day walks. To the North East of the town you can find Kings Wood, Denge Wood and West Wood. Kings Wood is large and it is not unknown for people to get lost and require police assistance. All of these woods have free parking.
1 Cineworld Cinemas, Eureka Leisure Park (near Junction 9 of the M20 motorway). 12-screen multiplex cinema. You can also find many restaurants here and a hotel. Short term parking in Sainsbury's car park, the other side of the motorway is possible.
2 Devil's Kneading Trough. A beautiful area on the North Downs and North Downs Way. It claims to have the best view in Kent, overlooking Ashford District. You can see as far as Beachy Head in Sussex. There is also an easy 1.5km walk to Wye Crown.
3 Wye Crown. The crown is best viewed from a distance, however it is a good walk and is on the North Downs Way. The view over Kent is stunning.There is no car parking above or below the crown, so the best way is to walk from the Devils Kneading Trough (1.5 km) or up hill from Wye following the North Downs Way (2.5 km).
Ashford is a hotspot in the southeast for shopping.
- 1 Ashford Designer Outlet, Kimberley Walk, TN24 0SD (1 mile (1.6 km) from town centre via Station Road and Avenue Jacques Faucheux, adjacent to Ashford International Station (Eurostar side)), ☏ , , email@example.com. M-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 10AM-6PM. Covered shopping centre with 85 designer brand stores, running the gamut from Armani to Zwilling. A major expansion project was completed during 2019 which increased the number of shops and removed some of the more downmarket food outlets (McDonald's). £5 parking a day.
- Tesco Crooksfoot Extra (just off junction 10 of M20). 24 hour. Supermarket.
Ashford is well served by many different restaurants. A short walk around the town centre will find most varieties of cuisine.
- Hoodeners Horse, The Street Great Chart, ☏ . Mexican English, cosy pub eaterie fresh food cooked to order and a range of real ales.
- Pizza Express, 14 North Street, ☏ . Typical Italian, pizzas, pasta dishes and salads.
- Mumbai Gate, Ashford Rd, Bethersden (on the A28, towards Tenterden), ☏ .
- Trattoria Romana, 32 Bank St., ☏ . Italian food in a friendly atmosphere.
- Paper Duck, 6-10 North Street, ☏ . Daily noon-3PM and 6PM-midnight. Oriental buffet restaurant with over 40 freshly prepared dishes to choose from, eat as much as you like. £5.80-10.80 per person.
Further out of town, pubs offer good food at reasonable prices. Wye also has some good restaurants.
- The Swan, A20 Charing (Maidstone side) (from roundabout in Charing, take Maidstone turn; other left after 100 m), ☏ . M - Tu: 16:00 - 21:00 W - Th: 12:00 - 22:00 F - Sa: 12:00 - 23:00 Su: 12:00 - 21:00;Food: W - Th: 12:00 - 15:00, 18:00 - 20:00 F - Sa: 12:00 - 21:00 Su: 12:00 - 17:00. 3 restaurants in one: Thai, steak bar and sushi bar - all are highly recommended and reasonably priced. Well decorated in an unusual style. Booking is advisable at the weekend.
- Plough, Stalisford Green. Particularly good country pub near Charing. Serves local produce, including local beers/cider.
- Bull Inn, Bull Hill, Bethersden, ☏ .
Locally produced Biddenden wine and cider are high quality. The cider at 8% ABV is only sold by the half-pint in some pubs. There is no shortage of good pubs and bars although the best tend to be in the villages around the town.
There are many good pubs around the town.
- Bar 27, 27 High Street. Very friendly bar with great food, nice interior and outside seating in Summer.
2 Riverside Inn, Torrington Road (opposite the Designer Outlet, off Asda roundabout then right into Beaver Road and then 2nd right again into Torrington Road), ☏ . Daily: food served M-Sa noon-9PM, Su 2-6PM. A 5-minute walk from the International Station this country-feel family pub has a reputation for homecooked food with daily specials and an extensive menu. Two beer gardens. Tuesday Steak Night and Wednesday Mexican Night.
3 William Harvey Inn, Church Rd, Willesborough, Ashford TN24 0JG (from Ashford town centre travel out along the A292, Hythe Road towards Hythe, with the Willesborough Windmill on your left turn right at the traffic lights in to Church Road), ☏ . A 350-year-old traditional pub
4 The Hare & Hounds, Maidstone Road,TN25 4NR (a couple of miles out of the town along the A20, heading towards Maidstone), ☏ . An old pub
6 The Queens Head, Ashford Rd, Kingsnorth, TN23 3EN (295 from Ashford International Station or on the A2070 Ashford Road), ☏ . 8AM-11PM. Local village pub just outside Ashford serving cask ales, home-cooked food. Breakfast, and lunches. Take-aways also available on bar food.
- Broadhembury Caravan & Camping Park, Steeds Lane, ☏ . Follow Romney Marsh Road through Kingsnorth and turn left into Steeds Lane. 3.7 miles from Ashford.
- Dunn Street Farm, ☏ . Head North-West along the A20 and then right to Westwell. 4.9 miles from Ashford.
- 1 Premier Inn, ☏ . Orbital Business Park, Sevington.
- 2 Travelodge, ☏ . Eureka Leisure park, near M20 junction 9. Just like every other Travelodge, but it is right next to fast food outlets such as Nando's, Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald's.
- 3 Holiday Inn Ashford - Central, Canterbury Road (Just south of junction 9 of M20), ☏ .
- Holiday Inn Ashford - North A20, Maidstone Road, ☏ . Basic rooms. Although on its own out of the town in the countryside the motorway unfortunately runs close by so always traffic noise. Small gym, friendly staff.
- 4 The Conningbrook, Canterbury Road, ☏ .
- Ashford International Hotel, Simone Weil Avenue, ☏ . Simone Weil Avenue, near M20 junction 9.
- 5 Boys Hall, Willesborough TN24 0LA, ☏ . Stylish 10-bedroom hotel in a Jacobean manor, with good dining. B&B double £160.
- 6 Eastwell Manor, Boughton Aluph, ☏ . An old manor house that must be seen. It is expensive to stay, but lunch is available by booking for £10 for 2 courses or £15 for three.
|Routes through Ashford|
|London ← Maidstone ←||NW SE||→ Folkestone/Channel Tunnel → Dover|
|Hastings ← Tenterden ←||SW NE||→ Canterbury → Margate|