Shrovetide: What is the Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide?

It’s that time of year again for the annual Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide football match! For those of you who are new to the local tradition here are some details of the hundred-year-old event…

Ashbourne Town View Shrovetide 2019 Image by threesixsevennine photography

A fierce match between two teams determined by which side of the Henmore Brooke you were born on, Shrovetide is an ancient match dating back to the early 19th century. It entails two eight-hour periods of competition between the Up’ards (born on the north side of Henmore Brook) and the Down’ards (born on the south side), to score the famous Shrovetide Ball to posts at two ends of the town. The game takes place on the streets of Ashbourne and there is no certain number of players, anyone who can compete for the ball can be a player!

Shrovetide Ball Image by threesixsevennine photography

The Shrovetide Ball itself is new each year, hand-painted with a design relating to Ashbourne’s heritage and the dates of the intended matches taking place on the year. Two Shrovetide balls are hand-painted each year by official Shrovetide ball painters – Tim Baker and Simon Hellaby, who work closely with selected local people to create beautiful illustrations reflecting their lives, two are painted so that if the ball is scored on the first day by 5pm a second ball will be thrown up.

Ashbourne Shops Image by threesixsevennine photography

During the game, many shops and businesses board up parts of their front windows to ensure no damage is caused with growing crowds and competition on the days. The Henmores Store will also be closing at 2pm on both days (25th & 26th February).

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide 2020 will begin at 2pm on the plinth in Shaw Croft Car Park on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and play can continue up until 10pm.

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