Easingwold is a small and delightful market town almost midway between York and Thirsk.
Its name goes back to Anglo Saxon times when there were two settlements there: Uppleby, which may derive from the name of a Danish leader called Uplleby; and the lower part of Easingwold (what is now Long Street) where there was a village inhabited by Angles. The name Easingwold may have derived from the Saxon tribe the “Esa” and “wold” meaning wood or forest - Easingwold being the place where the Esa lived.
Easingwold was at one time surrounded by a vast woodland area - the Forest of Galtres - which was favoured for hunting by various kings and sundry royals up to Charles I. Easingwold’s Forest of Galtres Society is an organisation which actively promotes conservation and local history research.
Uppleby is no longer a separate village but its name lives on in one of Easingwold’s streets. Easingwold was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, and Charles I granted it a royal charter making it a town with the right to hold a market.
In those days, the town held two types of market - a weekly general market and a cattle market once a fortnight. The cattle market has now gone (though the “bull ring”, a cobbled area where bulls were tethered, remains) but the weekly general market still takes place and a farmer’s market is held once a month.
Easingwold has a strong connection with food - it lies in the very fertile Vale of York with a broad mix of farms - arable, dairy, cattle, pigs, poultry and sheep - and it has some award-winning food shops in the town and in nearby villages. Delicatessens are a bit of a speciality for Easingwold, and there are four excellent delicatessens in the town - each with its own particular areas of expertise. Two of the delis have a tea-room and there are many other excellent cafés and restaurants in or near the town, with cuisines including traditional English, Italian, Indian and Chinese.
Easingwold is great for shopping, with the many traditional shops that provide a personal and friendly service. It also has a supermarket, and several antique shops in town - with more in nearby villages.
Easingwold’s Parish Church (St John & All Saints) dates from the late 14th century, and is a beautiful building.
The Market Place in Easingwold is largely Georgian, though it also has some fine Victorian buildings. One of the latter is now the Galtres Community Centre, an excellent addition to the town’s facilities, with meeting rooms, a concert venue, a sports hall, a bar and with a fitness centre alongside. Also in the grounds of the Community Centre is the Tourist Information Centre, along with hard-court tennis and five-a-side football pitches.
For a small town, Easingwold has a wealth of sporting facilities in addition to the above. Easingwold Golf Club (18-hole) is less than a mile away, and the town also has a cricket and a football club. There’s a crown bowls green, and only a dozen or so miles in either direction there are renowned racecourses at York and Thirsk.
Easingwold has two parks - the Memorial Park is small, but has a well-equipped kids’ playground. Millfields is a larger park which includes Easingwold’s Millennium Wood. This was planted in the year 2,000 so hasn’t yet reached maturity, but it is already a very pleasant place to walk through.
Dotted around Easingwold are some charming villages including Coxwold (where Laurence Sterne wrote Tristram Shandy) and which has a very interesting church with an unusual octagonal tower, Kilburn (home of the Mouseman woodcarver Robert Thompson) and overlooked by the White Horse of Kilburn on Sutton Bank, Sutton-on-the-Forest where you’ll find Sutton Park with its delightful bluebell wood, and Crayke with a fine view across the Vale of York - you can see the Minster on a clear day.
York is the jewel in Yorkshire’s diamond-studded crown. A visit to the Minster is an absolute must - even if you’ve been before. And York is also home to the Jorvik Viking Centre, the National Railway Museum, the Castle Museum with its reconstruction of a typical Victorian street, York Art Gallery, the Yorkshire Museum and so much more.
In the other direction from Easingwold lies the bustling market town of Thirsk, which is where the vet Alf Wight, better known under his pseudonym James Herriot, lived, worked and wrote many of his novels. And Herriot is remembered there with “The World of James Herriot” museum - which includes an amazing display of old veterinary instruments. Another special place is the Thirsk Museum, which is the former home of Thomas Lord, the founder of Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Easingwold is a superb place to stay if you want an out-of-town location when visiting York. But it’s also the ideal spot for trips out to the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales, the Yorkshire coast (Whitby and Scarborough are only 40 miles or so away), and interesting towns and cities such as Knaresborough, Harrogate, Ripon, Richmond, Leeds, and Skipton - each with a wealth of attractions and steeped in history - are all within easy reach.
Interesting fact: Easingwold used to have its own railway - the Easingwold Light Railway opened in 1891 and was closed at the end of December 1957. It ran from Easingwold to the village of Alne and had the shortest line (2.5 miles) of any standard gauge railway in the country. It was the last privately-owned railway to close and was known locally as "T'Awd Coffeepot" (The Old Coffeepot).
Byland Abbey, Byland
Coxwold Cabinet Makers, Coxwold
Lund Gallery, Easingwold (visual arts, ceramics, jewellery)
Monk Park Farm Visitor Centre for Children, Bagby, Thirsk
The Mouseman Visitor Centre, Kilburn
Newburgh Priory, Coxwold
Shandy Hall, Coxwold
Squirrel Woodcarver & Crafts, Husthwaite
Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest
The World of James Herriot, Thirsk
Yearsley Forest, Yearsley
Go Racing in Yorkshire (covers all Yorkshire’s racecourses)
Yorkshire Xtreme Adventures, Felixkirk, Thirsk
The Angel Inn, Easingwold
Plus all the attractions of York, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Leeds, Ripon, Malton, Helmsley, Richmond