Click here for Thirsk’s Magna Carta baron William de Mowbray
Thirsk appears as a settlement in the Domesday Book under the name of Tresche. After the Norman Conquest most of the land was granted to Robert de Mowbray, after whom the surrounding Vale is named. The Mowbrays built a castle, but by 1176 it had been completely destroyed and was never rebuilt.
The Manor continued in the possession of the Mowbray family until 1723 when it was sold to Ralph Bell of the neighbouring village of Sowerby. Thirsk Hall, a Grade II* listed building in Kirkgate, remains in the occupation of the Bell family.
Twenty-three miles north of York on the A19, and also on the east coast mainline, Thirsk was the home of Alf Wight who achieved worldwide fame writing as James Herriot. His veterinary surgery in Kirkgate is now the ‘World of James Herriot’ tourist attraction. Opposite it stands 23 Kirkgate, the birthplace in 1755 of Thomas Lord, who founded Lords Cricket ground in London. The house is now the home of the Thirsk Museum.
The centre of Thirsk is a medieval cobbled square with a range of shops and the Tourist Information office. Markets are held every Saturday and Monday. Here is the iconic Clock Tower, built through public subscription in 1896 to celebrate the wedding in 1893 of the Duke of York and Princess May of Teck – later to become King George V and Queen Mary.
Thirsk also has a racecourse, swimming pool, cinema, St Mary’s church (15th century, Grade I listed), the Lambert Memorial Hospital, and nearby a modern auction mart in the Rural Business Centre.
Thirsk is a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town, and there are convenient walks around the town and surrounding area described in a leaflet and signed with interpretation boards.