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North Riding
Grid reference: SE582787
Location: 54°12’4"N, 1°6’25"W
Population: 1,345  (2011 census)
Post town: York
Postcode: YO62
Dialling code: 01439
Local Government
Council: North Yorkshire
Thirsk and Malton

Ampleforth is a village in the North Riding of Yorkshire, twenty miles north of York. It sits at the foot of the southern escarpment of the Hambleton Hills. It is perhaps best known as the location of a Roman Catholic public school - Ampleforth College, known as 'the Catholic Eton', in the grounds of a monastery of the same persuasion, Ampleforth Abbey.

The name ‘Ampleforth’ is from Old English, from ampre ford, meaning 'sorrel ford', so presumably a ford in a local beck where sorrel grew.[1][2]


The Ryedale Roman Bronzes, a ritual Roman metalwork assemblage, was found by two metal detectorists in a field near Ampleforth in May 2020.[3]

Ampleforth appears in the Domesday Book as belonging to the Archbishop of York, but that the land was possibly waste.[4]

Until immediately after the Second World War Ampleforth mainly consisted of houses built along the main road which serves as the principal thoroughfare. Here there are several buildings dating back to the 19th century including the village's shop and the adjoining Coram Cottage, constructed in 1856.

After the War the village began to spread southwards and further east along what now are called Mill Lane and East Lane. At the southern end of the village there is a former council estate constructed in the 1960s which formed the greatest part of the development. Construction of new houses continues today. Along East Lane small farms are gradually being developed into large homes so that the rural and residential split becomes less marked.


Stained glass window from St Hilda's Church

The Church of England parish church is dedicated to St Hilda, the abbess who founded Whitby Abbey.[5] The church dates back to Saxon times, with elements from the 13th century.[6]

Attached to the church is a Church of England primary school.

Ampleforth Abbey is a mile away. There is a Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady and St Benedict, which is served by the monks of Ampleforth and has been the parish church for the village's Roman Catholic population for many decades. It also has a primary school, St Benedict's, which is run as a systemic school.[7]

Ampleforth had a Quaker settlement on the edge of the village, in Shallowdale to the west. The 16th century Carr House Farm was occupied by flax workers to weave flax into linen.[8]

About the village

There are two public houses in the village; the White Swan and the White Horse. The latter takes its name from the large white horse which was carved into the hillside a few miles to the west.

The village was the setting of the Ampleforth Sword Dance, traditionally held at Christmas. The dance was of a Long Sword type which commemorates a legend of a traveller killed by the six swordsmen and when a doctor is called for to revive the dead traveller, a clown pushes him aside and brings the traveller back to life through his mystical moves. Cecil Sharp documented the dance in his book, 'The Sword Dances of Northern England', and he is credited with finding the last surviving man to have taken part in the dance (as the clown).[9][10]

The village used to have a railway station on the Thirsk and Malton Line that was a mile and a half south of Ampleforth. Services ran between York and Pickering from the 1930s onwards and the station closed in 1950, some years before the rest of the line did to passengers.[11]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ampleforth)


  1. Weightman, Paul (2016). Yorkshire and its Origins. p. 161. ISBN 978-1-326-47512-3. 
  2. Field, John (1980). Place-names of Great Britain and Ireland. Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles. p. 24. ISBN 0389201545. OCLC 6964610. 
  3. "Roman Ryedale Bronzes: 1,800-year-old Roman hoard to go on display at Yorkshire Museum". Yorkshire Post. 13 October 2021. Retrieved 13 October 2021. 
  4. Ampleforth in the Domesday Book
  5. "St Hilda, Ampleforth". Retrieved 25 September 2016. 
  6. A History of the County of York: North Riding - Volume 1 pp 461-464: Parishes: Ampleforth (Victoria County History)
  7. "Visiting St Benedict's Catholic Primary School at Ampleforth". Gazette & Herald. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2018. 
  8. Shepherd, Sue. "Quakers in Shallowdale". Retrieved 9 April 2018. 
  9. Sharp, Cecil (1913). "The Ampleforth Sword Dance". The Sword Dances of Northern England, together with the Horn Dance of Abbots Bromley. London: Novello & Co. p. 50. OCLC 758925. 
  10. "Ampleforth Sword Dance". Retrieved 25 September 2016. 
  11. Suggitt, Gordon (2005). Lost Railways of North & East Yorkshire. Countryside Books. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-85306-918-5.