Hundreds of people walk over it unknowingly every day on their way to get fast food, visit the bank or while looking for a new house.
But few know about Ashford’s town centre’s underground jail, unbelievably in the cellar of an estate agents.
Many people know Ashford is an old market town, but without being aware of the history of the buildings, it can be difficult to comprehend just how old Ashford really is.
The grade II listed building at 1 Middle Row, which Gould Harrison estate agents now occupies, is home to ‘the cage’, a tiny gaol cell dating from circa 1500, which gave its name to the whole building.
The late historian Walter Briscall thoroughly researched the property, noting that it belonged to the Lord of the Manor of Ashford, and the small underground chamber was accessible from the street.
Staff at Gould Harrison have always known about the cage at the back of the cellar, but it attracted new interest from surveyors carrying out a recent timber inspection at the site.
Property preservation company Timberwise took to Twitter to share their fascination.
Robert Matthews, Kent surveyor at Timberwise said: “It wasn’t in keeping with the rest of the basement – it’s under the pavement.
“It’s always exciting of course to find something like that. It’s another day in the office!”
The stone steps next to ‘the cage’, which are made of Kentish ragstone, led outside to the street and can still be seen intact with support from props and wooden beams.
Mr Briscall also recorded that the building was in an isolated position, with only temporary market stalls between it and the church.
Shops began being built in this area in the 1500s and the building stood in the heart of the market place. At one stage, it is believed that an open market was also held underneath the left-hand side of the building.
Richard Filmer, partner at Gould Harrison, said: “The premises have been operating as an estate agents for some decades and most of our clients and applicants are totally unaware of the building’s history, although there is a plaque on the corner of the building identifying ‘The Cage’.
“Obviously being in the heart of the town we occupy a very ancient site.
“Unfortunately to date, nothing is known of any of the miscreants that may have occupied the cage.”
What do you think? Email firstname.lastname@example.org