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Ashbourne stems from a small Saxon village first mentioned in the Domesday Book. Here it is referred to under its medieval name of Essiburn. It came to prominence in the 18th and 19th century as a way point at the meeting of six coaching roads. Situated on the old main road from London to Manchester at the junction of the Peak District and the Midland Plain, Ashbourne in the 1850s was a characteristic English country town, with a population of around 3,300. It provided a focal point and market centre for many Derbyshire and Staffordshire villages in the surrounding countryside. This was an area that encompassed the spectacular beauties of Dovedale and the adjacent limestone uplands, increasingly frequented by tourists from the 18th century onwards. Bonny Prince Charlie proclaimed his father king of England when he was in Ashbourne on his abortive march on London.