Joan Ashton and her mother,
Connie, moved to their permanent home in
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
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,
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
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.
A Report is in preparation that
tells 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 and is
being produced for the Executors as a memorial and
Once the Report is published,
the documentary material will be handed to various
Archives for storage and preservation. At
present material is destined variously for the Luton
and Bedfordshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire
County Record Offices, also the
War Museum or the
Many of the older family
photographs were taken by Gulliver Speight of Market
Harborough. 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