Thirsk in North Yorkshire is a market town serving the Vale of Mowbray for nine centuries. Industries that thrived then included linen weaving, leather goods, malting and brewing, rope making, leather goods and basket making. Our quick stop at Thirsk on a Sunday morning, allowed us time to get to know the market town, shops, cafes, and the world of James Herriot.
Thirsk Market Square
What used to be a thriving market with stalls selling poultry and dairy products, covered butters’ stalls and open air butchery which included a Bull Ring, is now an equally thriving market for crafts, house plants, cakes, clothes, food and drinks.
The ancient practice of bull baiting by dogs as a form of entertainment before the bulls are sold for slaughter is one that is required by medieval market law. This took place in the Bull Ring where the bull is tied to an iron stake or placed in a hole in a ground. Trained dogs were then set at it until the bull is subdued.
The stalls, also known as shambles were demolished in 1857. There was also a Tollbooth or Market Hall which was destroyed by fire in 1834. What survived is the Bull Ring, marked out in cobbles near the bus shelter and the cobbled square which remained unaltered for over 150 years.
Thirsk Clock Tower
An ancient market cross was placed by the clock tower, built in 1896 to commemorate the marriage of the then Duke of York, three years earlier. The Duke of York married Princess May of Teck. Apart from telling the time, there were water trough for animals and horses at the base and a drinking fountain for people. Fast forward to today, the clock tower is a great meeting place and on a sunny day, it offers visitors a place to rest.
Thirsk Cafes & Takeaways
The one thing that Thirsk is not short of are cafes, delis and sandwich bars. Aside form the main chains like Greggs and Caffè Nero, you can find local cafes, bakeries and delis almost everywhere you turn. The most popular among them is the White Horse Cafe which also doubles up as a chippy serving Breakfast and Fish and Chip all day. It is located near the clock tower right next to Plenty Sandwich Shop.
Thirsk Pubs & Bars
The provincial town is also not short on watering holes. We found the Black Bull right next to the market square, Black Bar & Bistro across the road and Mowbray Arms, also near the market square. Other pubs nearly include The Red Bear, Brown & Anchor, The Old Red House, The Frankland Arms, Cross Keys Inn, The Lord Nelson and The Darrowby Inn.
Yarn bombing (Yarnbombing)
On our way out, we spotted a yarn bomb. Yarnbombing is a type of street art involving colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn, a softer and friendlier variety to graffiti paints.
You can find more here – Thirsk Shops & Buildings – Local and independent businesses in the market town.