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Ashby-de-la-Zouch

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Ashby-de-la-Zouch (formerly also Ashby-de-la-Zouche) is a small market town in the North West Leicestershire district of the county of Leicestershire, England. It lies within the National Forest, has a population of 12,758 (2001 census), and is known to locals as "Ashby". The associated adjective is "Ashbeian".

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Market Street Ashby-de-la-Zouch

"Ashby" is a word of Anglo-Danish origins, meaning "town of the ash [tree]". The Norman French addition dates from the years after the Conquest, when the town was given to the Zouche family in the reign of Henry II.

It has an historic 15th century castle. The castle area was the setting for Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. A local high school is named after the book (Ivanhoe College, for 11 to 14-year-olds). The local upper school, Ashby School, previously Ashby Grammar School, is a mixed comprehensive school for 14 to 19-year-olds and has its roots in the 16th century.

The parish church, St Helens, houses a rare 300 year-old finger pillory, which may have been used to punish people misbehaving in church.

Many of the buildings in Market Street, the town's main thoroughfare, have timber framing, but most of this is hidden by later brick facades. The "Bull's Head" pub retains the original Elizabethan half-timbering. There are also Regency buildings in this street.

Bath Street has a row of Classical-style houses dating from the time that the town was a spa. The demolition of the public baths is now a matter of some regret.

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The historic Bull's Head pub

Dolly Shepherd, 1887-1983, the famous Victorian aviatrix, made her return to parachuting from balloons in a display at Ashby, after recovering from a potentially fatal accident.

The town itself has been one of the fastest growing in the Midlands in recent years, and the historic centre is now surrounded by executive housing.

The heavy traffic which previously passed through the town has been substantially relieved by the A42 and A511 bypasses.

By far the largest employer in the town is United Biscuits, which provides about 2000 jobs. One of its production plants will close in 2004 with loss of 900 of these posts.

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Arms of the former Ashby-de-la-Zouch Rural District Council

Other employers in Ashby include Standard Soap, Calder Colour (paint) and Phillip Harris (laboratory supplies). There is also a concentration of high-tech employers. During the 80s and 90s, Ashby was home to video game software house Rare, also known as Ultimate Play The Game.

Nearby villages include Donisthorpe, Measham, Coleorton, and Moira. Another nearby town, Coalville, is somewhat larger than Ashby.

An ironic popular song known to older people is entitled "Ashby-de-la-Zouch By The Sea".

Geography

Ashby-de-la-Zouch is located at Template:Coor dms (52.7667, -1.4667)1.

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