North Yorkshire

Thirsk is a market town in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire.

Thirsk town centre is arranged around an attractive market place where a clock tower is the centrepiece. A market has been held in Thirsk since at least the early 12th century.

The town has become the centre of "Herriot Country", having becoming well known as Darrowby in the semi-autographical books of vet Alf Wight, who wrote as James Herriott. The vet and author is celebrated at the World of James Herriot museum in Thirsk at his original surgery (see below).

Just across Kirkgate, the Thirsk Museum charts the area's history and also features cricket memorabilia in the birthplace of another famous son of the town, Thomas Lord, who founded Lord's Cricket Ground in London.

Thirsk merges with the neighbouring village of Sowerby, but each has a separate church and civil parish.

 Town features

Thirsk is close to the North York Moors National Park.
Thirsk has one of Yorkshire's nine horse racecourses.
The town is at a bridge over the Cod Beck.
The town has a range of shops and supermarkets. Thirsk offers bakery goods, butchers, antiques, books, clothes, crafts, flowers, furnishings, gifts, jewellery, an outdoor market (Mon, Sat).
The town has a Post Office branch.
Thirsk has bank and building society branches.
The town has pharmacies.
The town has pubs and a social club.
The town offers a choice of inns, bistros, cafes, restaurants and take-aways.
Takeaway food outlets in the town include fish and chips, chinese, sandwiches.
Thirsk has museums.
The town has a community cinema.
The town has a leisure centre with swimming pool.
There are public toilets in the town with limited hours of use.
Places of worship: Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, other.
Thirsk has tourist information.
Places to stay in Thirsk include hotel, guest house, inn, caravan accommodation.


Thirsk station

Managed by: TransPennine Express
Operator/s: Grand Central - TransPennine Express -

Thirsk station is about a mile-and-a-half to the west of Thirsk town centre, beyond its racecourse.

Northern - Thirsk   Station and departure information at Northern website.

Bus travel

The town has buses to neighbouring towns and villages.

Road travel

Thirsk can be reached via the A19 A61 A168 A170 B1448

Places to visit

The World of James Herriot

23 Kirkgate, Thirsk
This museum paying tribute to vet and author James Herriot offers a wealth of things to see at his original practice surgery. The writer, whose real name was James Alfred Wight, wrote a series of semi-autobiographical books through the 1970s which were adapted for two films and a popular BBC TV series. Alf Wight continued to write through the 1980s and early 1990s, focusing more on children's books later in his life. The museum presents the house as it would have been in the 1940s and has an air-raid shelter in the cellar. There is a big display of veterinary instruments from the past to the modern day, a farrier's workshop, a massive collection of James Herriot memorabilia and a behind the scenes look at TV's 'All Creatures Great and Small' including a restored vintage car used in the series.

Further information at  The World of James Herriot website. More about Thirsk  Find Thirsk on map

Sutton Bank National Park Visitor Centre and Kilburn White Horse

Top of Sutton Bank (A170)
While the full figure of the Kilburn White Horse stands out from afar, it can also be reached by a 3-mile loop walk from the North York Moors National Park Visitor Centre at the top of Sutton Bank. The most northerly such figure in Britain, the horse was first created in 1857 when it was marked out by the Kilburn village schoolmaster and his pupils before the turf was cut from the limestone, now brightened with added chalk. The National Park centre also offers plenty of other walking and cycling opportunities, a fantastic viewpoint and is also a Dark Sky Discovery site.

Further information at this  North York Moors National Park - Sutton Bank webpage

Aldborough Roman Site

Front Street/Chapel Hill, Aldborough, near Boroughbridge
The village of Aldborough is on the site of a Roman Town, Isvrivm, which was on Dere Street, the main Roman road north from York (Eboracvm). The Romans made York their provincial capital in the north of England after invading the lands of the Brigantes, largest Celtic tribe in Britain, around 71 AD. Aldborough became the main centre of Romanised Brigantes. The present Roman site has the original walls of one corner of the town, set out in gardens laid out many thousand of years later in Victorian times. A collection of Roman finds can be found in the museum at the site and there are also two mosaic pavements in their original positions. The site is managed by English Heritage and is open throughout April to September. The site is best reached on foot as there is no car park.
 Find on map
More information at the  English Heritage - Aldborough Roman Site website.

Shandy Hall

Thirsk Bank, Coxwold
Shandy Hall, a grade I listed building with some original features dating back to 1430, was the home of Irish-born 18th century novelist and clergyman Laurence Sterne while he was Vicar of Coxwold. The house, then simply The Parsonage, was where he wrote 'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman' and 'A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy'. Shandy Hall's gardens are open to the public between May and September and the house itself on advertised days or by appointment. The Hall is maintained by The Laurence Sterne Trust.

More information at  The Laurence Sterne Trust website

Marmion Tower

Marmion Tower

West Tanfield
An impressive stone gatehouse to a lost manor house beside the River Ure which was once the manor of Elizabeth Parr, grandmother of Queen Katherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of King Henry VIII. The manor passed to Elizabeth Parr in 1513, but the gatehouse is now its only significant remains. The gatehouse was originally built during the latter part of the 14th century but has been remodelled several times. Its first floor has a splendid projecting oriel window. The 69 spiral steps of the tower can be climbed during its daily opening times. The tower is managed by English Heritage and there is no admission charge.
More information at the  English Heritage - Marmion Tower website.

Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey

Byland, near Coxwold, North Yorkshire
Byland Abbey features the ruins of one of the largest and grandest Cistercian abbey churches in England. Completed towards the end of the 12th century, it is noted for its Gothic architecture which inspired that in other church buildings, including York Minster. The lower portion of a huge rose window gives some idea of the scale and magnificence of the building before the dissolution of the monastery. The abbey also has tiled floors surviving from the 13th century. The abbey is in the North York Moors National Park about 5 miles south-west of Helmsley (6 miles by road) and 8 miles east-south-east of Thirsk (12 miles by road). The abbey is managed by English Heritage.

More information at  English Heritage - Byland Abbey website.
Find on map:  Byland Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx, near Helmsley, North Yorkshire
The first Cistercian abbey in the North of England was founded in 1132 but became one of the most important in the country, quickly growing to a 650-strong community within its first 30 years. However by the time of supression of the monastery in December 1538 the number had fallen to 23 monks. The abbey in the valley of the River Rye in the North York Moors National Park has substantial remains, particularly of its 13th century church which were saved from further collapse by repair work 100 years ago. The abbey also has a museum containing architectural stonework and other artefacts found at the site, including chess pieces, coins and small personal possessions. The visitor centre also has a tearoom. Rievaulx is 2.5 miles west-north-west of Helmsley and about 11 miles east of Thirsk. The abbey is managed by English Heritage.

More information at the  English Heritage - Rievaulx Abbey website.  Find Rievaulx Abbey on map

North York Moors National Park

Beyond the visitor centre are 554 square miles (1,435 square kilometres) of National Park with features including moorland and coast, historic stateley homes, remains of castles and abbeys, attractive villages and market towns and a historic railway. For more information see our page dedicated to the North York Moors

Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Extending south from the National Park and at the eastern edge of the Hambleton district is the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covering 79 square miles (204 square kilometres). The landscape is one of rolling hills with fields and woodland, charming villages, farms, monasteries, Iron Age earthworks and grand country houses with their designed parkland.

More information at the  Howardian Hills AONB website

Emergency services

North Yorkshire Police  North Yorkshire Police website.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service  North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service website.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust  Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust website.

Local government

Civil parish council

Thirsk Town Council
Provides some local services in the area.
Link to council website  Thirsk Town Council

District authority

Hambleton District Council
Hambleton district council is one of the seven large district authorities within the county of North Yorkshire with its Civic Centre at Stone Cross, Northallerton.

It covers 506 square miles of the mainly rural area in the northern area of North Yorkshire adjoining the Hambleton Hills, after which the authority is named.

The council area includes Bedale, Easingwold, Great Ayton, Northallerton, Stokesley and Thirsk. The eastern edge of the district is within the North York Moors National Park.

The council is made up of 28 councillors representing 17 wards, with between 1 and 3 representatives per ward. Councillors are elected every four years.

The district has extensive coverage of parish and town councils and parish meetings with 78 town and parish councils and 57 parish meetings.

Link to  Hambleton District Council website.

The political composition of the council after the May 2019 election was:

242 11
28 members

County authority

North Yorkshire County Council
Includes Hambleton and six other non-unitary districts of North Yorkshire.
 North Yorkshire County Council website.

Police and Crime Commissioner

Police and Crime Commissioner North Yorkshire
Covers the county of North Yorkshire and City of York.
 Police and Crime Commissioner North Yorkshire website.

Fire Authority

The North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was previously governed by the North Yorkshire Combined Fire Authority made up of elected members from across the broad areas of North Yorkshire and City of York councils which it serves. Following a ministerial announcement in June 2018 the governance of the fire service was transferred to the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire from 15 November 2018.
Further information at the  North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service website.
 Police and Crime Commissioner North Yorkshire website.

National government region

Yorkshire and the Humber

Ceremonial county

North Yorkshire


-1974: In the North Riding of Yorkshire.

Also in

 New     Places to visit     Gazetteer - a website. Made in Yorkshire UK   |  Terms of use  |  Privacy policy  with  No cookies  |  Contact  |