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Yorkshire Helmsley, North Yorkshire

Helmsley is an extremely attractive market town on the edge of the North York Moors. With its stone buildings, River Rye and Borough Beck, Helmsley is Yorkshire’s answer to the Cotswolds. Life is centred round the Market Place, still with its market cross and big monument to William, Second Lord Faversham 1798-1867, which was ‘erected by tenantry, friends and relatives, who cherish his memory’.

Market day is Friday and it is always busy with locals and also tourists. Although there is a small Co-Op, Helmsley has kept a wide range of small family owned shops.
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There is something for everyone from Castle Stores wool shop selling hats hand knit in Helmsley to the Fabulous Meat and Fish Company selling meat from local farms. Thomas of Helmsley is a very good bakers while Hunter’s of Helmsley has an excellent deli and also sells a range of local produce aimed at both locals and tourists. This is the place to visit for your holiday gifts. There is a traditional newsagent and tobacconist, a wine merchant, as well as boutique dress shops, cafes and fish and chips. Brown’s of York, the up market department store, also has a shop here.

Helmsley Brewing Company is a small brewery making very good beers. They have a small shop and also offer tours on a Wednesday.

Culture isn’t forgotten and the Helmsley Arts Centre has a regular programme of theatre productions, music, cinema, talks and workshops.

The Black Swan Hotel stands at the top of the Market Place and provides high quality accommodation and a gourmet dining experience. Classic afternoon teas are served in the tea room.
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If your tastes run to something a bit simpler, there are two other pubs in the Market Place, the Feathers and the Royal Oak, which provide accommodation and serve food and real ale. We can recommend the steak pie and beer in the Royal Oak.
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The Crown next to the Black Swan still has its sign but closed many years ago.

To the west of the Market Place is Borough Beck flowing through grass lined banks bright yellow with daffodils in March.
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Borough Beck.png

All Saint’s Church is a large church with an interesting selection of C19th wall paintings depicting the coming of Christianity to the north of England and Helmsley’s importance.
All Saints' Church .png

All Sints' Church - wall paintings.png

The ruins of Helmsley Castle peer over the roof tops. Dating from the early C13th, this had a curtain wall with massive square keeps on the east and west walls.
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It only ever saw military action during the English Civil War, when it was besieged for three months before surrendering due to starvation. It was slighted by the Parliamentary troops to prevent further military use, although west apartments continued to be lived in until the C18th.
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Below the castle is Helmsley Walled Garden which has been lovingly restored over the last 20 years, with Victorian greenhouses, fruit trees and conserving old, rare and endangered garden plants. The Stick Man has a workshop here making handmade walking sticks.

There is also Duncombe Park, built in 1713. The house is the family home of Lord and Lady Feversham and is closed but the gardens and parkland are open in the summer months. In the grounds is the International Centre for Bird of Prey which is open from February to Christmas and has three flying sessions a day.
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Not only is there plenty to do and see in Helmsley, it also makes a good base for exploring the North York Moors and Vale of Pickering. There are the ruined abbeys of Rievaulx and Byland close by. Ampleforth Abbey has an excellent tea room. Pickering has a ruined castle and is the terminus for the North York Moors Railway.
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