Great Ayton- the boyhood home of Captain James Cook has a wealth of interest appertaining to the great explorer. A museum dedicated to the schooling of the young James features as one of many attractions in the village linked to Captain James Cook. A statue of the young James stands on the High Green, The nearby escarpment of the North York Moors has a monument to Captain James Cook and the site of the Cook family home is now a memorial Garden and is a location of an obelisk dedicated to the explorer.
A number of interpretation panels located throughout the village tell the story of the village with links to the time when young James lived here and also provide useful information specific to the panel location.
Great Ayton is a vibrant North Yorkshire village with a proud heritage. The village welcomes visitors to explore and enjoy the Cook experience, the attractive scenery and the hospitality on offer.
The surrounding moorland was laid down in the Jurassic Period, making the North York Moors National Park the original Jurassic Park! To the north, Ayton Moor has many prehistoric sites. A Neolithic chambered cairn there continued in use into the Bronze Age, and there is much evidence of Iron Age settlement.learn more
For many years treeless and used as rough pasture, the High Green is now the centre of the village. The far side of the green is dominated by the former Ayton Friends’ School, opened by the Quakers in 1841 as the North of England Agricultural School. The school began in the property with the imposing porch (previously this had been the house of Philip Hesleton, the merchant who ran the village linen industry in the 18th century).learn more
Great Ayton grew up as a village around Low Green, with its Church, Manor House and Corn Mill, three key buildings of an early settlement. The Domesday survey includes ‘Aytun’ and All Saints’ Church. Northerners had an unfortunate habit of rebelling against the monarchs in the south. Two Ayton men paid for their involvement in the 1489 rebellion by being hung in chains from the walls of York. Following the Rising of the North in 1569, many Aytonians were fined and some probably executed.learn more
Captain Cook’s father retired from Aireyholme Farm in 1755 and bought this site for ‘twenty-six lawfull shillings’. He built two cottages, living in one with his wife Grace while renting out the other. After Grace’s death, James Cook senior left the village in 1772 to live closer to his daughter Margaret in Redcar.learn more
Before the cottage was taken to Australia, the Government of Victoria wished to place a memorial on this site. The initial idea was for a block of stone from the promontory of Point Hicks, believed to be where Lieutenant Zachary Hicks of the Endeavour first sighted the new continent.learn more
A corn mill was an important part of the medieval village. Ayton Mill stood on what is now Mill Terrace, and dated back at least to the 13th century. The mill race carried water to power the mill, from upstream of the dam in the River Leven. At this point, the race crossed Goat Lane (now Easby Lane) by a ford, but in 1932 the water was taken under the road surface.learn more
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Great Ayton Parish Council would like to thank gratefully the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the LEADER Fund for their incredibly kind support throughout our Cook Family Memorial Garden refurbishment project.