Yorkshire is since the 1974 local government reorganisation split up into various counties, but is still widely seen as one enormous entity, and as far as this website is concerned it is being treated as one.
Yorkshire was always by far the largest county in England. Even before 1974 it was divided for administrative purposes into three Ridings (“thirdings”) – North, East and West, plus the City of York.
The county contains many different aspects, from the Pennine hills and moors, the beautiful Dales and the Vale of York, some enormous industrial cities and a long coastline, sometimes rugged, containing some of England’s best-known seaside resorts.
The City of York is one of the oldest and most historic places in England. Founded by the Romans, to whom it was known as Eboracum, it was the capital of a Danish kingdom and subsequently its Cathedral, usually known as York Minster, became the seat of one of the two Archbishops in England (the other is at Canterbury).
Along the coast are such famous towns by the sea as Scarborough, the very first seaside resort; Whitby, one of Yorkshire’s most historic towns; Bridlington, also famous for its Priory; Filey, with its picturesque fishermen’s cottages; and Redcar, which also has a racecourse.
There are also some smaller coastal villages, with a great deal of charm, including Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay.
There are some impressive rivers in the county, mostly flowing Eastwards to the North Sea from the Pennines. These include the Aire, Calder, Derwent, Don, Esk, Nidd, Ouse, Swale, Ure and Wharfe.
Yorkshire also boasts some of England’s biggest cities. Leeds, hugely important industrially, has some beautiful Victorian arcades and the fabulous Kirkgate Market. Bradford houses the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television. Sheffield is famous for the manufacture of steel and cutlery. Other large towns include Barnsley, Halifax, Huddersfield, Hull and Rotherham, while in the far North (now in Cleveland) is Middlesbrough, with its iconic Transporter Bridge.
Fountains Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey were both built by the Cistercians in the 12th century, and are now stunningly beautiful ruins. Other magnificent churches in the towns, in addition to York Minster, include Beverley Minster, Bridlington Priory, the ruined Guisborough Priory, Ripon Cathedral, Selby Abbey, Wakefield Cathedral and the ruined Whitby Abbey.
Castles abound, as well, at such places as Conisbrough, Helmsley, Pontefract, Richmond, Skipton and Scarborough.
Yorkshire has one of the most impressive of England’s stately homes – Castle Howard, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh.
And one of the country’s top spa towns is Harrogate, where the concept of the tea shop was born.
The great navigator Captain James Cook was born at Marton, which is now on the outskirts of Middlesbrough. There is a splendid birthplace museum in a beautiful country park. Cook also lived for a while at Staithes, and learned his trade at Whitby.
Yorkshire people are proud of their sport. Great Yorkshire cricketers include Geoffrey Boycott, Darren Gough, Len Hutton, Ray Illingworth and Fred Trueman. Top football teams include Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday.
Horse racing takes place at a huge number of racecourses – Beverley, Catterick, Doncaster, Northallerton, Pontefract, Redcar, Ripon, Thirsk and York.
The National Railway Museum is at York, as is the much-acclaimed Jorvik Centre. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with work by many famous artists including Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, is near Rotherham.
Lots of confectionery comes from Yorkshire. Rowntrees and Terrys are York companies, and Mackintosh’s are from Halifax. Pontefract cakes are made from the licorice grown around the town.
The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, lived at Haworth, and betweem them wrote such novels as “Jane Eyre”, “Wuthering Heights” and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”, all set around the moorland country. Bram Stoker set significant passages of “Dracula” at Whitby. James Herriot set his vet stories, including “All Creatures Great and Small” in the country around Thirsk.
Several TV series are set in Yorkshire, including “All Creatures Great and Small”. “Emmerdale” was formerly filmed at Esholt, but is shot now on the Harewood estate near Leeds. Goathland is the main setting for “Heartbeat”, which is also partly filmed at Whitby. “Last of the Summer Wine” is filmed at Holmfirth.
The much-loved cinema version of “The Railway Children” directed by Lionel Jeffries was filmed around the Worth Valley Railway near Haworth. The film of “Calendar Girls” was shot in the Skipton area.
Yorkshire covers an eighth of England’s area, and a tenth of its population.