Malton can trace its origins back to Roman times when the fort of Derventio was established on the north bank of the River Derwent. A Gilbertine monastery was built here between 1147 and 1154, but the first reference to a market was in 1283, and documents dating back to that time imply Malton was a place where craftsmen and others, such as butchers, came to sell their wares. More contemporary archives show the relocation of the town’s Shambles to its present site opposite the Town Hall, which itself was commissioned in 1749 and was originally a butter market. The town has continued to thrive and is now a must-visit for anyone interested not just in food – although it does have its very own Food Map – but in supporting small, independent shops, for which Malton is now well known.
We did say that Malton was known as the foodie capital of the North, and the ever-expanding number of independent food shops, cafés and restaurants help endorse this claim. Too many to list, firm favourites include Yo Bakehouse on Market Street. Known for their delicious scones and frangipane tarts, we defy you to walk past their window crammed with tempting treats and not go in! Afternoon tea is something of a must here, but the recently expanded café serves coffee, cake and sandwiches and there’s a takeaway service too. Another place to indulge your sweet tooth is Patisserie Malton on Saville Street. Open for lunch and afternoon tea, there’s a great selection of irresistible deli treats, pastries and baked goodies available. Owner Andrew also runs a takeaway service and a doorstep Afternoon Tea delivery on Saturdays. Malton isn’t all about sweet treats but it does have more than its fair share of amazing bakeries and cake shops. Costello's is a family-run bakery who have recently celebrated 20 years in baking. Inspired by old-time classics and childhood favourites, they’re all about real and rustic, using recipes which have been passed down through generations. Situated in Malton’s Market Place, they also have a click and collect service available from their outlet on Navigation Wharf so customers can order everything from mini cakes and brownies to their famous Bakewell tart online. Another great addition to the foodie scene in Malton is Florian Poirot in the Talbot Yard Food Court. Specialising in macarons, chocolate bonbons and desserts, everything is made onsite here and the boutique-style shop (open Wednesday to Sunday) is well worth a visit. Florian runs patisserie masterclasses and sugar workshops at his shop (book online), creates special cakes for special occasions and runs a useful click and collect service too.
But it’s not just about the sweet stuff here. Rare Bird Distillery is run by husband and wife team, Matt and Elizabeth Stewart. Based in Talbot Yard, their vision was to create a beautiful distillery which the public could visit. With exposed brickwork, wood floors and a stunning copper still called Florence, they have done exactly that. They also run a gin school onsite where you can create your very own gin. Elsewhere, Bad Seed Brewery creates superb craft beer, The Beecham Weigh is where you go for health food, and butcher and game specialist Derek Fox is the place for all things meat. Food 2 Remember in Talbot Yard is a butcher who makes everything onsite including home-made chorizo, sausages and fishcakes, and, for all-things deli, head to Malton Relish in the Market Place for cured meats and local cheese. To help take it all in, you can book a Malton Food Tour: a three-hour guided gastronomic walk around the town visiting artisan producers, tasting produce and discovering the secrets behind the many famous products. Malton has a regular Saturday market and a popular Monthly Food Market every second Saturday of the month, set against the magnificent backdrop of St Michael’s Church in the Market Place.
Away from the food scene, shops to seek out are Bowley & Jackson, an interiors shop specialising in shabby chic and vintage furniture and accessories, Hare & Wilde, with its range of homewares, kitchenware and Scandi-inspired accessories and, a real favourite, Kemps General Store. This is an emporium of the unusual and beautiful, with great gifts for everyone, so set some time aside to explore this treasure trove of amazing things. The Shambles is a collection of shops selling a wide range of vintage and antique furniture and curios. It’s also home to the lovely Selina Scott’s Goat Sock Shop, and Woodlark, designers and makers of furniture.
Many of Malton’s specialist bakeries and delis have their own cafés, but if you are in search of a dining experience, rather surprisingly there is less to choose, probably because much of Malton is about small and independent producers. Stew & Oyster has an outpost in Malton where you can expect to find all the classics on the menu: big bowls of stew, small plates to share and desserts from Yo Bakehouse. Chapter One Bistro is slap bang in the middle of the Market Place and serves homemade meals from breakfast through to early dinner (until 6.30pm). Making the most of the local produce, you’ll find the menu includes local scampi and lamb, but they’re best known for their burgers here. The Talbot is perhaps considered the mainstay of Malton and a champion of local produce. Food miles matter here and the menu includes a sharing board of Yorkshire-cured meats, Water Edge Farm steaks, and locally-caught fish. There’s a Feasting Room perfect for a family party, and the Talbot is also home to Malton’s Cookery School.
Tuis of Malton is a Thai restaurant and cocktail bar serving fusion dishes in a fun and friendly atmosphere, and The New Malton is a typically-characterful local pub serving great seasonally-inspired dishes. The Royal Oak Pub & Kitchen in Old Malton is housed in a Grade-II listed inn dating back to 1780. There’s a lovely cosy snug, lots of character, two roaring log fires when it’s cold, and a large beer garden when it isn’t. There’s a well-stocked bar, real ales on rotation, and the food is all freshly prepared using the best local suppliers and producers. Thursday is their legendary Pie Night, but the Sunday roast is equally popular.
There’s loads to see and do in and around Malton. There’s a Gin School, a Cookery School and food tours around the town – that’s before you explore its surrounds. Malton is on the edge of the North York Moors, near to Castle Howard and the historic Eden Camp, the Second World War museum on the site of an original POW camp. Transporting you back in time, you can experience the sights and sounds of war-time Britain at this atmospheric and moving museum. Also in Old Malton is St Mary’s Priory Church. Founded in 1100, this historic building is a magnificent example of 12th century Romanesque architecture and is the only surviving church of the Gilbertine Order that is still used today. Castle Howard should be on every history-lover’s list, but is a fascinating place for everyone and provides the perfect family day out. Considered one of the greatest palaces in Europe and a national treasure, it has been home to the Howard family for generations. The house itself is crammed with historical artefacts and paintings of international significance, and the surrounding gardens and estate are equally enthralling; there’s a walled garden, a woodland garden, lakes and waterways and a new family-friendly treetop attraction, Skelf Island. Scampston Hall, just four miles from Malton, is a Grade-II listed country house, famous for its gardens and serpentine lake designed by Charles Bridgeman and Capability Brown. A steam buff? Take a trip on the Moors railway through stunning scenery – the station is just down the road in Pickering – or for thrills and spills take the family to nearby Flamingo Land with its theme park and zoo.
The ruins of Kirkham Priory are found on the banks of the River Derwent, outside Malton. The Augustinian priory was founded in the 1120s by Walter l’Espec, who also built Rievaulx Abbey. Legend has it, the priory was built in remembrance of l’Espec’s son who died when his horse was startled by a boar. The ruins are Grade-I listed, and the priory gatehouse is a rare example of English Gothic medieval architecture. The priory also came to fame in the Second World War when it was used in training for the D-Day landings – the river was used for diving training and tanks and jeeps were put through landing practice on the river bank. Both Winston Churchill and George VI visited Kirkham in secret to watch the preparations.
Visit at the right time and to the east of Malton you’ll find purple fields filled with fragrant lavender. Wolds Way Lavender is a 12-acre site planted with over six acres of lavender. There are more than 120 different types of lavender and herbs grown here, a giant maze and a nature walk with an abundance of wild flowers and wildlife for visitors. A new sculpture walk adds colour and an interesting selection of sculptures, and in the Farm Shop there’s lavender, of course, and staff are happy to help with advice on growing your own.
This is racing country and Malton, and nearby Norton, are home to the the stables of trainers Brian Ellison, John Quinn, Richard Fahey, and Tim Easterby, to name just a few. Unfortunately, thanks to Covid-19, the hugely popular stable open days are not taking place this year, but you can sometimes see the horses on the gallops.