Ashton was recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Estun’. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon (Old English) æsc for the ash tree and then ‘tun’ meaning a larger settlement – possibly with an administrative function.
The Old Norse for the ash was ‘askr’, but in this case the way that the name was recorded over the years has convinced place-name specialists that it is the Old English that is at the root of the name (if you will excuse the pun).
The Ash was a very important tree in the early medieval period. In Viking mythology Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life and the World Tree, was an ash tree. They also believed that the first man ‘Askr’ was made from a log found on the shore. In British folklore the ash was connected to rebirth and new life until the 1800s.
More practically, the ash had many uses and was used in the shafts of spears, indeed the Anglo-Saxons sometimes used ‘æsc’ instead of ‘spear’.
Ashton Hall is likely to be the original site of Ashton. At its heart the Hall has a defensive pele tower built in the 1300s. These were very popular around here if you could afford them – people were no doubt mindful of the Scottish force that burned down Lancaster in 1322!
Locally, Ashton Hall is famous for having been the home of James Williamson, Lord Ashton, the ‘Lino King’. He built both the Williamson Memorial and the Town Hall.
The photo of Ashton Hall dates from around 1905 when Lord Ashton was living there.