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Ashbourne Hall is a late Georgian mansion standing in extensive grounds overlooking a park a few hundred yards from the east end of St. John's Street. The Hall was separated from the town by a high brick wall, a line of tall trees and a set of imposing park gates. These gates faced down the street, reminding the inhabitants forcibly of the presence of the established order, as did the gates and towering spire of the parish church which closed the view at the other end of the main street. It was the principal large residence of the town and had been occupied since the 17th century by the Boothby family, baronets and lords of the manor. On the death of Sir William Boothby, the 9th baronet, in 1846 the family's long connection with Ashbourne was severed, and the Hall and park with its small agricultural estate were put up for auction in London. Withdrawn at £27,950, they were later purchased privately by John Fox, an Ashbourne solicitor, as a speculation, and within two months the estate was sold off in 46 separate lots. The Hall itself subsequently passed through various hands, being briefly owned by the local Roman Catholic priest before becoming the property of Captain Holland, a stranger to Ashbourne, whom again sold it in 1858.