• CONTACT US if you have any problems registering for the forums.

Yorkshire Malton - Old and New

Malton is made up of two separate settlements, each with its own unique character

The area was settled by the Romans who built an auxiliary fort, Derventio, on the north bank of the river, in the area now known as Orchard Fields. The only remains are a few earthworks.

The ‘ton’ ending indicates an Anglo Saxon farm settlement and Domesday Book records a small settlement and church in what is now Old Malton.

New Malton, which is usually just called Malton, grew up as a walled settlement protected by the castle built on the site of the Roman fort. The two are separated by the wooded and grassed area of Castle Gardens and Orchard Fields. The two settlements have a very different feel, with Malton dwarfing its older neighbour.

Old Malton

Old Malton is an attractive small settlement just to the north east of its larger neighbour, larger New Malton.


The Domesday Book records a church and small settlement here. The name of Ladyspring Wood suggests there were springs near here and the church may have been built on a pre-existing sacred site.

The Saxon church seems to have been destroyed in 1138 after the Battle of the Standard between the opposing forces of Matilda and Stephen. Eustace Fitz-John, the local landowner, donated the damaged church and land to the Gilbertine order for the building of a priory. This was dissolved in the Reformation although the nave survives as the parish church.

Stone cottages line either side of the main road through the settlement.



There is a small green between the main road and Town Street. The Royal Oak Pub is here.


The Wentworth Arms is on the corner of Westgate with a thatched cottage next to it.


A grammar school was built in old Malton in 1547 and continued as a school until 1835. The building still has its small bell tower and is now a private house.


Apart from the pubs and St Mary’s Priory, there is little else to encourage the visitors to stop - there are no shops either.
Last edited:


1000+ Posts
Priory Church of St Mary and the Gilbertine Order

Only the nave and the south west tower survive of a once important Gilbertine Priory. This is the only one of the 26 monasteries founded by Gilbert of Semperingham to survive. There are a series of information boards about him in the church.

Little remains of the Saxon Church mentioned here in the Domesday Book apart from the remains of an Anglo Scandinavian cross shaft displayed at the back of the church.


The present church was built as a Gilbertine priory by local landowner, Eustace Fitz John in the late C12th. The workmanship was of very high standard and masons marks include those of men who worked at Ripon Cathedral.

The Order was founded in 1131 by St Gilbert of Sempringham in Lincolnshire and is the only religious order that began in England. It had 26 houses, mainly in the east of the country.


There were both monks and nuns in the order, although they were strictly segregated. Malton just had monks who were known as ‘regular canons’.

The Priory was endowed with farmland and was one of the largest and wealthiest of the Gilbertine Houses. Many of the canons represented the area in Parliament.


The north west tower collapsed in a fire that caused major damage to the north aisle at the start of the C15th. It was rebuilt in the Perpendicular style which explains the perpendicular window in the west wall, the ornate pillar in the north wall and different arcading at the back of the church.

The priory was dissolved in 1539 and the canons were pensioned off, although some became parish clergy in the area. Monastic buildings were used for building stones.
The church building became the parish church .

The central tower was taken down in 1636 as it was unsafe. The church sustained damage from canon balls during the Civil War. By the early C18th the church was in a ruinous condition. Permission was given to demolish the north aisle, remove the clerestory and shorten the east end of the church by removing the chancel, which had been the preserve of the monks.

There was a major restoration in 1877, undertaken by the architect Temple Moore, when the parish was faced with the imminent collapse of the remaining south west tower. The south aislke was removed. The Norman pillars of the south arcade can be seen in the south wall, but the arches have been filled in. The roof had to be replaced, based on a C15th design. Temple Moore was responsible for the organ case, panelling in the chancel and the splendid tester above the altar. Seven of the original 35 misericords survive. The rest are from the C19th restoration.

Last edited:


1000+ Posts
Priory Church of St Mary - the outside

It is worth walking round the outside of the church before visiting. It is set in a large grassy graveyard with old grave stones arranged around the walls. On the north wall, just inside the gateway is a coffin niche. In medieval times, most bodies were wrapped in a linen shroud before being placed in the parish coffin. The body was then carried in the coffin to their place of burial . Once in the ground, the coffin was returned to the niche for storage until needed again. This is a rare survivor.


Medieval stone coffins are propped against the wall.


Near them are the remains of the pillars of the central tower.


The gateway in the wall near here was once the original entrance to the cloisters.


The splendid archway attached to the north wall with its zig zag Norman carving, was the entrance to the chapter house which has been rebuilt here.


The west front is magnificent, but decidedly lop sided with only the south west tower surviving.


It still has its lovely carved Norman doorway.


Look closely at the bottom of the wooden door for the Thompson Mouse. Robert Thompson, the ‘Mouseman’, had his workshop in nearby Kilburn. He was responsible for much of the modern woodwork in the church and ten of his mice signatures can be found around the church.


The outer north wall of the church is very plain after the north aisle was demolished in the early c18th.


The south aisle was demolished in the C19th restoration work when the south west tower was in danger of collapse. Rather than rebuild the wall, the south arcade pillars were retained but the arches filled in.





1000+ Posts
Priory Church of St Mary - the inside

Only the nave of the original priory church survives and it still feels like a Norman building inside with the round Norman pillars of the filled in arcades, their round arches and the Transitional triforium above them. The nave is very simple and still has its C19th pews.




The perpendicular window at the west end is from the C15 rebuild.


The blind arcading at the back of the north wall and the elaborate pillar date from then.



The simple wooden roof with its painted bosses was part of the C19th restoration, as is the chancel with its lovely woodwork. The altar with its tall tester is particularly striking.


Some of the medieval misericords survive. The rest along with the choir stalls are C19th.





Against the south wall of the sanctuary is a C13th coffin lid.


The pulpit, lectern and font are all c19th.




There are display panels at the back of the church about St Gilbert of Sempringham and also a display case with artefacts found around the site. These include the remains of an Anglo Scandinavian cross shaft.



1000+ Posts
Malton - some history and background

On the banks of the River Derwent, this is sometimes referred to as 'New' Malton, to distinguish it from it’s older neighbour ,Old Malton. It is a traditional market town which has reinvented and reinvigorated itself over the last few years as Yorkshire’s Food Capital with a lot of small family run food shops. The town had become run down and sad, but now has a pride in itself and its appearance.


Even the top of the post box is decorated with crocheted food items.


The Romans had an auxiliary fort here, Derventio, on the north bank of the river, in the area now known as Orchard Fields. The only remains are a few earthworks.


This was also the site for an C11th motte and bailey castle. This dominated the surrounding countryside and controlled the river crossing and road system. A walled settlement grew up by the castle and the present parish boundary still follows the line of the walls.

The castle was later rebuilt in stone and supported Matilda against Stephen during the unsettled times of 1138. The castle was held by the Barons in their war against against King John, which led to the signing of the Magna Carta. The castle was destroyed by the forces of Robert the Bruce in 1322.

The castle was replaced by a spectacular new house in 1602. This was inherited by two sisters who fell out over ownership and took their case to the County Sheriff. He ordered the house to be demolished and the stones to be split between the two women. All that was left was the boundary wall and the gatehouse which has been extensively restored and is now an hotel.



Malton grew and thrived during the Middle Ages, with a market here by 1238. The town centre still retains the original cross pattern of streets leading to the gates in the walls.
As the settlement grew, the monks of the Priory built two Chapels of Ease to serve the population. The monks of St Mary’s Priory may have preferred to build two smaller subservient churches than one large and possibly rival church. St Michael’s Church was built in the Market Place.


St Leonard’s Church was built near the castle. They didn’t become separate parishes until 1855.


The borough of Malton was purchased in 1713 by the Hon Thomas Watson Wentworth, a wealthy landowner, after becoming an MP for Malton. His family invested heavily in the town and really put it on the map .

His son, the First Marquess of Rockingham, carried out extensive work to make the River Derwent navigable up to Malton. He also built The Talbot Hotel for those attending the races. This was later extended to cater for those taking the waters at nearby Malton Spa. He also commissioned the building of the Town Hall in the Market Place.

The second Marquess made further improvements to the Derwent River Navigation and was responsible for the creation of a turnpike road between York and Scarborough which passed through Malton. Streets in the town were cobbled and the bridge over the river to Norton was widened. He also served as Prime Minister twice.

A family Trust, the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate, now owns and manages much of the property in Malton, from their office on Old Malton Road.


The areas grew rapidly, trading in coal, corn and butter. The improvements to the River Derwent allowed extensive barge traffic carrying goods and large warehouses were built to store these.


The railway arrived in 1845 with the opening of the York to Scarborough line. The now closed Malton and Driffield branch soon followed and barge traffic declined.

Gas lighting arrived in 1832. and electric light by 1893. A waterworks supplied residents with water by 1867.

Malton continues to be a thriving market centre for the area today with a Saturday market and monthly farmer’s market. It also has a busy livestock market with weekly sales.



1000+ Posts
Exploring Malton

Malton is a very compact town and easy to explore on foot. The town is now bypassed by the A64 to the north. Yorkergate and Old Malton Gate were the main throughfare with Castlegate and Wheelgate leading to the other two gates in the town wall.

Malton map.jpg

Old Malton Gate is lined with attractive stone and brick buildings.


Just off it, down Church Hill is St Leonard and St Mary RC Church which is on the edge of the centre and the edge of the town and near the site of the castle.

St Leonard’s Church was founded in 1190 as a chapel of ease for St Mary’s Priory. The church was closed in 1969 and gifted to the Roman Catholic Church by the Anglican Diocese of York in 1971 as an expression of ecumenical goodwill. The Roman Catholics were looking for a larger building to replace their original chapel built in 1829. The Act of Unity in 1559 made it illegal to practise the Catholic faith in England. This was one of the first to be built once the law had changed to allow them to worship. It was the first English parish church to be returned to Roman Catholic use since the Reformation and is probably the oldest Roman Catholic church still in use in England. Its dedication was extended to include that of St Mary. It still retains much of its Norman interior and font. Unfortunately it was locked.


Although there is a large Asda by the station, Malton has avoided the blight of the chain stores and still has many small family run shops. Most of the shops are found along Yorkergate, Walkergate and the Market Place.



The old Palace Theatre on Yorkergate, built in 1845, is now a shopping mall with a small cinema above.


Market street lined with C18th buildings.



The Shambles off the Market Place was originally where the butchers were found. It is now lined with small specialist shops from a traditional cobbler to antiques and DVDs.


St Michael’s Church dominates the centre of the Market Place.


At the other end is the Old Town Hall, an attractive C18th stone built structure with open arcades. It ceased to be the town hall in 1974 and was leased to Malton Museum for a few years. It is now a restaurant.


The present Museum is in the old Assembly Rooms on Yorkergate which date from 1814.


The River Derwent marks the Boundary between Malton and near neighbour, Norton.


There are footpaths along the Derwent in both directions and details of a walk along the river to Old Malton here.

Malton is now establishing itself on the tourist trail and is a pleasant place to spend a few hours. Eden Camp and Flamingo Land with its zoo and amusement park are close by.


1000+ Posts
St Michael’s Church

As the Malton grew, the monks of St Mary’s Priory in Old Malton built two Chapels of Ease to serve the population. St Michael’s church was built in the market place and St Leonard’s Church (now the Roman Catholic Church of St Leonard and St Mary) was built near the castle. In 1855 they became separate parishes.

The church with its solid square tower dominates the Market Place and still retains much of its Norman appearance with round topped windows and dog tooth decoration. The tower is C15th.



There was a major reconstruction in the C19th when masonry was restored and Norman style windows added in the aisles, clerestory and chancel. The north side of the chancel was turned into the organ loft. The roof was replaced.

There is no information available in the church and little on the web.

The first impression on entering the church is very much of a Norman building with round pillars with round arches in the nave.



The stained glass is C19th.


The round chancel arch has Norman style carving and bird beaks at the ends.


At the west end, a simple Transitional arch with a round window above, leads into the tower.


On the back wall is a beautiful painted memorial to the dead of the First World War, which may be the most impressive part of the church.


There are few other memorials on the walls.


The font at the back of the church is C12th.


The chancel feels completely different to the rest of the church with its painted roof timbers and pale cream walls picked out in white. It could be from a different church... The choir stalls were made by Thompson of Kilburn (the Mouseman) in the mid C20th. The free standing altar dates from 1990.


Overall, I was disappointed by the church. I found the interior uninspiring and not even the Norman style architecture could enthuse me. It was flooded with light which gave a hard feel to the architecture. The chancel felt as if it belonged to a different building.

The church is open daily, and being in the centre of Malton doesn’t require any effort to get there. It is worth sticking your head in for a look if passing, but not making a special effort for.


10+ Posts
They are wonderfully informative and right up our alley. Will be using them as a guide for our next wander around Britain. Photos are great too, I love that you include so many.

How to Find Information

Search using the search button in the upper right. Search all forums or current forum by keyword or member. Advanced search gives you more options.

Filter forum threads using the filter pulldown above the threads. Filter by prefix, member, date. Or click on a thread title prefix to see all threads with that prefix.

Recommended Travel Guides

52 Things to See and Do in Basilicata by Valerie Fortney
Italian Food & Life Rules by Ann Reavis
Italian Food Decoder App by Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls
How to Be an American in Italy by Jessica Scott Romano

Share this page