Situated on the south side of the Stour Valley (part of the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Management Plan area), the village of Ashen had in 2011 325 residents living in some 135 dwellings. The parish boundary runs along the River Stour to the north and abuts the parish boundaries of Ridgewell, Ovington and Belchamp St Paul on its other sides. At its centre is a conservation area and the parish contains a wealth of listed buildings and other remains, including the 12th c. church, which is listed grade 1 and is of national importance. The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book (please see the separate pages on the history of the village and the church). The village has an active community with a village hall and a playing field and children’s playground, which has been recently upgraded to a high standard. There is a local arts club. There are regular events over the year, organised by the Village Hall Committee and the PCC, including a St George’s Day dinner, a Burns night dinner, an art and craft exhibition combined with a village barbeque and teddy bear parachute jump from the church tower, a harvest supper and auction and regular entertainments in the village hall and the church including jazz concerts and other musical events. There is an equestrian school in the village and other livery stables in the area. There are tennis courts and a bowls club at Stoke-by-Clare, just across the river. The national Stour Valley footpath runs through the parish along the river to the north and there are a range of other footpaths around the village and the local area. The village is accessed by lanes of considerable charm and antiquity including Doctor’s Lane and Hollow Road. There are shops and two doctors’ surgeries at Clare (including a Coop generally open all days of the week) and a community shop at Stoke-by-Clare. Higher order facilities including major supermarkets are available at Haverhill, Sudbury and Braintree along with an extensive range of leisure and other facilities. There is a church infants and primary school at Ridgewell and secondary schools at Haverhill (including an academy), Sible Hedingham and Clare (in Suffolk). The Stour Valley is rightly renowned for its landscape and historic buildings. Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds are reasonably accessible with their extensive facilities. There is a dial up Dart bus service to nearby centres. The nearest railway stations are at Sudbury, Braintree and Audley End with services to Liverpool Street.