Olly Morgan, Fraser Waters, Magnus Lund, Shane Geraghty, Louis Deacon and Andy Hazell have all been released from England's preliminary World Cup squad.
Ashton's England team have three warm-up games in August
Coach Brian Ashton has to name his definitive 30-man squad by 14 August, and the release of these six cuts the pool down to 40 players.
"It's been very difficult to let the six players go," said Ashton.
"They've all worked hard and it's been good working with them. I'm considering another cut at the end of next week."
Gloucester full-back Morgan impressed in his two appearances in last season's Six Nations, before a season-ending shoulder injury.
And Sale flanker Lund, who has 10 caps, was also a surprise omission.
The surviving squad members will reconvene in Bath next Tuesday and spend the rest of the week training.
They then have a week free before meeting on Sunday 29 July to prepare for the World Cup warm-up game against Wales at Twickenham on 4 August.
England host France the following weekend, with a return trip to play France in Marseille on 18 August.
"I've taken the decision to reduce the squad now because I've had a good look at everybody in the training camp," added Ashton.
"It's important that we spend more time giving consideration to those who will make the 22 for the first of our warm-up games."
Revised 40-man England preliminary World Cup squad:
Backs: N Abendanon (Bath), O Barkley (Bath), M Catt (London Irish), D Cipriani (Wasps), M Cueto (Sale Sharks), A Farrell (Saracens), T Flood (Newcastle), A Gomarsall (Harlequins), D Hipkiss (Leicester), C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), J Lewsey (Wasps), J Noon (Newcastle), S Perry (Bristol), P Richards (London Irish), J Robinson (Sale Sharks), P Sackey (Wasps), D Strettle (Harlequins), M Tait (Newcastle), M Tindall (Gloucester), J Wilkinson (Newcastle).
Forwards: S Borthwick (Bath), G Chuter (Leicester), M Corry (Leicester), L Dallaglio (Wasps), N Easter (Harlequins), P Freshwater (Perpignan), J Haskell (Wasps), B Kay (Leicester), L Mears (Bath), L Moody (Leicester), T Palmer (Wasps), T Rees (Wasps), M Regan (Bristol), S Shaw (Wasps), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), M Stevens (Bath), P Vickery (Wasps), D Ward-Smith (Bristol), J Worsley (Wasps), K Yates (Saracens).