Ike’s Adventures in North Yorkshire – Part 5

Heather & Mark took Ike to North Yorkshire with them for a few days prior to the second UK Lockdown of 2020. Ike was very happy that the weather was back to being gorgeous and sunny on the next day of his North Yorkshire Adventure. This meant he was able to visit the beautiful and peaceful Kirkham Priory and learn lots of history.

Beautifully placed between the city of York and the town of Malton , the riverside ruins of Kirkham Priory are set in the scenic Derwent valley near the Yorkshire Wolds.

The Augustinian priory was founded in the 1120s by Walter l’Espec, lord of nearby Helmsley, who also built Rievaulx Abbey. The priory was surrendered in 8 December 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Legend has it that Kirkham was founded in remembrance of l’Espec’s only son who had died nearby, as a consequence of his horse being startled by a boar.

The area was later used to test the D-Day landing vehicles, and was visited by Winston Churchill.

The ruins are now Grade I listed, cared for by English Heritage. The priory was used by the military in training for the largest seaborne invasion in history, the D-Day landings of 6th June 1944. Amongst units moved to Kirkham were the British 11th armoured division, the aim being to give drivers experience of manoeuvring the equipment and to test various waterproofing compounds, using the banks of the River Derwent as the practice coastline. The high wall of the Western Cloister was used by troops, training with scrambling nets, which they would eventually use to make their way from the main transport ships to smaller landing craft.

It was such a beautiful sunny day, it was perfect for Ike to explore the beautiful ruins by the riverside and the lovely countryside.

After a great time at the Abbey, Ike and the Mr Men went to Old Malton, to have a walk through the old village and look for caches.

They then walked back along the river, admiring the beautiful mosaics that have been placed along the path. It was a great day to enjoy this walk, but they were sure it’s very different in winter, when the river area is liable to flood, and it would be very muddy! They found 4 clever caches in Old Malton, and admired some of the historic buildings.

About Old Malton:

Old Malton appears in the Domesday Book as Maltune (meaning Middleton), the present day settlement of Malton (or New Malton) came after Old Malton. St Mary’s Priory Church in the village was founded as a Gilbertine Priory in the 12th century. A church had previously existed in the village as recorded in the Domesday Book, but it is believed that this was damaged when Thurstan of Bayeaux (then Archbishop of York) burned the village to the ground in 1138 after the Battle of the Standard. Eustace Fitz-John, the local landowner, donated the damaged church to the Gilbertine order and they rebuilt the church as a priory. After the Dissolution, the church was reformed as the parish church of Old Malton which it remained as until 1896 when Old and New Malton were joined together as a civil parish. The church still exists today and is noted for being the only Gilbertine Priory church in use for regular worship in England. The building, though largely amended since the Dissolution and renovated by Temple Moore in the 19th century, is now grade I listed. In May 1547, Archbishop Robert Holgate issued letters patent which declared that three grammar schools would be built in the region including one at Old Malton. The school was in existence until 1835, when the incumbent vicar at St Mary’s church moved the pupils to his own school in nearby Norton. The grammar school buildings are still standing as two private dwellings and are now grade II listed. (Text from the history page of the Royal Oak Pub & Kitchen, Old Malton)

They found one more cache by the river, a very special type they had never found before, called a letterbox cache (because it has a stamp in). Then we walked back along the river, looking at the Mosaics and passed Orchard fields, known for its Roman connections.

One Reply to “Ike’s Adventures in North Yorkshire – Part 5”

  1. One can just imagine British troops doing preparatory military training and materials testing around the ruins and river at Kirkham. One wonders how much damage was done? A ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture from archives would be a superb find.

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