ASHBY-DE-LA-ZOUCH, a market-town in the Bosworth parliamentary division of Leicestershire, England; 118 m. N.W. by N. from London by the Midland railway, on the Leicester-Burton branch. Pop. of urban district (1901) 4726. The church of St Helen is a fine Perpendicular building, restored and enlarged (1880); it contains monuments of the Huntingdon family, and an old finger-pillory for the punishment of misbehaviour in church. The Ivanhoe baths, erected in 1826, are frequented for their saline waters, which, as containing bromine, are found useful in scrofulous and rheumatic complaints. The springs are at Moira, 3 m. west. There is a Queen Eleanor cross commemorating the countess of Loudoun, by Sir Gilbert Scott. To the south of the town are the extensive remains of Ashby Castle. There are extensive coal-mines in the neighbouring district, as at Moira, whence the Ashby-de-la-Zouch canal runs south to the Coventry canal.
At the time of the Domesday survey Ashby-de-la-Zouch formed part of the estates of Hugh de Grentmaisnel. Soon after it was held by Robert Beaumeis, from whom it passed by female descent to the family of la Zouch, whence it derived the adjunct to its name, having been hitherto known as Ashby or Essebi. The earliest record of a grant of market rights is in 1219, when Roger la Zouch obtained a grant of a weekly market and a two days’ fair at the feast of St Helen, in consideration of a fine of one palfrey. In the 15th century the manor was held by James Butler, earl of Ormond, after whose attainder it was granted in 1461 to Lord Hastings, who in 1474 obtained royal licence to empark 3000 acres and to build and fortify a castle. At this castle Mary queen of Scots was detained in 1569 under the custody of the earls of Huntingdon and Shrewsbury. During the Civil War Colonel Henry Hastings fortified and held it for the king, and it was visited by Charles in 1645. In 1648, at the close of the war, it was dismantled by order of parliament. It plays a great part in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. In the 18th century Ashby was celebrated as one of the best markets for horses in England, and had besides prosperous factories for woollen and cotton stockings and for hats.
See Victoria County History—Leicestershire; History of Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 1852).