The Ashton Family of Lubenham and Sandy



          In memory of
           Joan  Ashton


Joan Ashton and her mother, Connie, moved to their permanent home in Sandy in Bedfordshire in 1933.  They lived there for the rest of their lives. 

Joan was thus part of the Sandy community for all but the first five years of her life.  Many knew her as a school-teacher – a friend – a neighbour – a church bell ringer – a dinghy sailor – an outdoor activities leader – a Scottish dancer – and so much more.  However, very few really knew her.  Even good friends knew little of her hobbies and activities other than the one where they had met her.  None knew anything of her family background, except for the very occasional fragmentary references she made in passing. 

Little further would have ever been known about her, or her family, had she not [like her mother and grandmother] been a great hoarder, never throwing anything away in case it was needed, and always keeping documents, in case dreaded “officialdom” demanded some proof or information.  These documents tell an important story of the struggles of a small, dispossessed part of a large and wealthy family, from the late 19th Century and into the 21st Century.  It may have been a fairly commonplace story – but rarely is such a story so well documented. 

The collection of contemporary documents, including photographs and a wealth of personal papers and letters written by the members of the family, provides a rare insight into the values of late Victorian and Edwardian times.  In addition the everyday correspondence, photographs and post cards provide a background to travel, hobbies – including a passion for early motor-cycles, holidays and life in both wars, and provide an unrivalled collection of social documents.

An illustrated lecture From Lubenham to Sandy uses this very visual material to tell the story of four generations from landowning county JP and Alderman and his fourteen children; an  “unsuitable” marriage with the girl from the pub; midnight run-aways to London; and all the trauma of a family trying to retain their values.  Another talk focuses on the postcard correspondence between Joan’s grandmother and a number of other girls, and some boys, and particularly a girl in Derbyshire, who also sent photographs from those early days up to her wedding.  It also proved possible to contact her granddaughter.

A Report has been prepared to tell the story of Joan, her mother and grandmother, and their extended family.  It is based on this archive of documents, together with some supplementary research.  It was initially produced for the Executors as a memorial and tribute, however, to date they have not moved to publish.

Much of the significant documentary material has been passed to various Archives and similar organisations for storage and preservation.  To date material has been sent variously to: the Luton and Bedfordshire; Derbyshire;  Leicestershire and Bedfordshire County Record Offices, also to the National Army Museum; the Army Medical Services Museum; and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society Archive; the YHA collection in the Warwickshire Modern Record Centre; the Birmingham Training College Archive. 

Family photographs taken  by the Speight family, particularly Gulliver Speight at Market Harborough, are held in the Speight collection and will in due course be housed with other Speight material at Warwickshire County Record Office.  Some material remains to be housed.

More details of this photographer and his family can be found here on the Speight Photographers page.

Several other lectures are available, based on the Ashton Archive material, see: Lectures and Presentations.

Further details can be obtained from:- John Frearson –