Visit Kirkham Priory – History, Visiting, Prices

in Malton

Address: Whitwell On The Hill, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO60 7JS

Phone: +44 01653 618768


Visit Website

Situated in the beautiful Derwent Valley in North Yorkshire, Kirkham Priory is an enchanting historical site that offers a captivating glimpse into medieval England. Located near the River Derwent, this priory, founded in the 12th century, has stood the test of time, bearing witness to significant historical events and stories.

Visitors can discover the story of the monk’s life and its historical significance while exploring the priory. A visit to Kirkham Priory promises a unique experience, allowing visitors to explore the riverside ruins and immerse themselves in the rich history of the Augustinian ruins.

The Founding and Early History

Kirkham Priory was established in 1122 by Walter Espec, a notable figure of the time. The priory was built to house Augustinian Canons, who dedicated their lives to religious practices and community service. Kirkham Priory played a significant role in the local religious landscape, with its Romanesque architecture reflecting the Norman influence.

The daily life of the monks revolved around prayer, study, and work, embodying the austere and disciplined lifestyle of the Augustinians.

Architectural Highlights of the Riverside Ruins

One of the most striking features of Kirkham Priory is its gatehouse, an imposing structure that greets visitors upon arrival. The priory’s architecture showcases a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, with elements such as high walls, arches, and intricate stone carvings. Key buildings include the cloister, the refectory, and the chapter house, each telling a story of medieval craftsmanship and monastic life.

The riverside ruins add to the site’s charm, creating a picturesque setting for history enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Historical Events and Notable Figures: Winston Churchill’s Secret Visit

Kirkham Priory has been a silent witness to many significant historical events. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, King Henry VIII ordered the closure of the priory, leading to its partial ruin. However, the priory’s story didn’t end there. The Second World War brought renewed attention to the site, with Winston Churchill’s secret visit adding a layer of intrigue.

Winston Churchill’s secret visit to Kirkham Priory during WWII was significant as it involved inspecting the troops and the testing of ‘wading’ vehicles for the D-Day landings. King George VI visited the priory as part of the preparations for D-Day, further cementing its historical importance. The priory’s connection to the de Roos family also highlights its significance in local heraldry and nobility.

Kirkham Priory Today

Today, Kirkham Priory is managed by English Heritage, ensuring its preservation for future generations. Visitors can explore the riverside ruins, enjoy free parking, and take part in guided tours that delve into the priory’s rich history. The site offers modern facilities, including picnic areas, making it a perfect place for a family day out. The priory‘s location in the Yorkshire Wolds makes it an ideal spot for walking, cycling, and enjoying the outstanding beauty of the surrounding countryside.

Cultural and Educational Importance in English Heritage

Kirkham Priory is not just a historical landmark but also a valuable educational resource. Schools and educational programs often include visits to the priory, providing students with a tangible connection to medieval history and architecture. The site’s cultural significance is celebrated through various events, particularly during the summer bank holiday, when visitors can enjoy special activities and reenactments. The story of Kirkham Priory is intertwined with that of the nearby Helmsley Castle and the town of Malton, offering a comprehensive historical experience.

Final Points

Reflecting on the legacy of Kirkham Priory, it is evident that this site holds a special place in England’s rich tapestry of history. From its founding by Walter Espec to its role in World War II, the priory’s story is one of resilience and significance. A visit to Kirkham Priory is not just an exploration of riverside ruins but a journey through time, uncovering tales of monastic life, architectural marvels, and historical events that shaped the region. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a serene spot for a picnic, Kirkham Priory is a destination not to be missed.

Discover the charm of this North Yorkshire gem and immerse yourself in its enduring legacy.

Practical Information

  • Kirkham Priory Address: Kirkham Priory, Malton, North Yorkshire YO60 7JS, England
  • Facilities: Free parking, picnic areas, guided tours, modern amenities
  • Nearby Attractions: Helmsley Castle, York, Malton

With its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful surroundings, Kirkham Priory offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit.


Full adult £5.60, free for members:

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