But he was summoned to Twickenham last week as injury cover, and now goes straight into the team alongside back-row colleagues James Haskell and Lewis Moody.
Harlequins number eight Nick Easter, a regular selection during the Ashton regime, was not considered due to a knee injury.
Narraway's Gloucester colleague Iain Balshaw is recalled at full-back for his first England appearance since last summer's tour of South Africa.
Surprisingly there is no place for Mathew Tait - England's best player in the World Cup final three months ago - either at full-back or outside centre, where Gloucester's Mike Tindall returns, or even on the bench.
Elsewhere, Gloucester wing and former Bradford Bulls rugby league star Lesley Vainikolo is named on the bench alongside fellow uncapped back, Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani.
Narraway is among seven players selected for the Six Nations kick-off who did not start England's last game, the World Cup final against South Africa in Paris on October 20.
The others are Balshaw, Tindall, his midfield partner Toby Flood, wing David Strettle, Bath lock Steve Borthwick and rising Wasps star Haskell.
Balshaw is joined in the back three by prolific try-scoring wings Paul Sackey, a World Cup star who has recovered from mumps, and Strettle.
Up front, Ashton has kept faith with five of his World Cup final pack, including the entire front row - Andrew Sheridan, Mark Regan and skipper Phil Vickery - with another starter, Simon Shaw, partnering Borthwick at lock.
Shaw has recovered from an ankle injury suffered during Wasps' Heineken Cup defeat to Munster 10 days ago, with Borthwick edging out Leicester's Ben Kay.
Regan, meanwhile, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Monday, retains his place above other squad hookers Lee Mears and George Chuter.
But although bench cover for the forwards is considerably experienced, all three reserve backs are uncapped - Vainikolo, Cipriani and Sale Sharks scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth.
The spotlight will once again be on England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who has seen off the twin challenge of Cipriani and Charlie Hodgson, to retain the number 10 shirt.
Wilkinson needs just 18 points to become the first player to reach 1,000 for England in Test matches.