A brief history of Malton

Roman Beginnings

The earliest established building at Malton dates back to the late first century AD. The Roman auxiliary fort of Derventio was established under Governor Agricol, the Gallo-Roman general who was responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain. Around the same time he established another fort to the west and this site remained occupied after the decline of the Roman Empire and ultimately evolved into the present-day City of York. The fort of Derventio was established on the north bank of the River Derwent and a large civilian settlement grew up alongside the fort. The site remained occupied and was further developed throughout the four centuries of Roman occupation in Britain.

Medieval Times

During the 11th century, a timber Norman castle, Malton Castle, was built in what is now Castle Garden. This was rebuilt in stone by the time Richard the Lionheart visited the castle in 1189, and other visitors included Edward II, in 1307, and Robert the Bruce in 1322. The great house subsequently fell into decline.

The castle site was inherited by Lord William Eure in 1544, when he was also made a Baron. In 1569 Ralph Eure built a new house on the castle site and in 1602, the house was rebuilt in a much grander style. The property was spectacular and was described by the diarist and gunpowder plotter Sir Henry Slingsby as the rival of many other great houses in Britain, including that of Audley End.

This house was subsequently demolished in 1674. Today, The Old Lodge Hotel is the remaining fragment of the original Jacobean property, and its size is illustrative of the grandeur of the complete structure.

The 18th and 19th centuries, and the influence of The Fitzwilliam Malton Estate

The Borough of Malton was purchased by the Hon Thomas Watson Wentworth in 1713. From the outset the family invested heavily in Malton. Thomas’s son, the 1st Marquess of Rockingham, inherited the family’s interests in 1723 and it was he that funded extensive work to make the River Derwent navigable up to Malton. In 1739 he acquired York House and, the following year, the building now known as the Talbot, opened as a hotel for those attending the races in Malton. The town hall was commissioned in 1749 by the 1st Marquess, a year before his death. The building was first used as a butter market, butter being the main marketable product for many farmers of the day. The town hall was extended and changed at various intervals over subsequent years.

Charles Watson-Wentworth, the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (who was twice Prime Minster) made further investments to complete the Derwent navigation. He was also involved in the creation of the turnpike road between York and Scarborough which passed through Malton. During his tenure many of the town’s streets were cobbled and the bridge to Norton was widened.

The Malton Estate passed to William Fitzwilliam, the 4th Earl Fitzwilliam in 1782. It was he who, in 1809, approved plans for the Talbot to undergo a major refurbishment which included the addition of a third floor – together with new stables across the road from the hotel.

The hotel catered not only for race-goers, but also for those taking the waters at Malton Spa which was situated nearby.

Successive Earls Fitzwilliam continued to invest in the construction of more homes, workshops, factories and shop premises in the Town – as well as in public buildings such as schools, hospitals and meeting halls. The town’s Assembly Rooms were opened in 1814, a place in which ‘polite society’ could mingle.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, road and rail communications improved too. The development of the railway network flourished during the mid-1800s – the York to Scarborough railway opened in 1845 – and Malton grew as a result.

During the 18th century attention was also paid to improving the facilities for traders in the Town, in particular for the numerous butchers. The town’s Shambles, situated opposite Malton Town Hall, used to be located on the north side of St Michael’s Church, which still stands in the centre of the Market Place.

Following the death of Peter Wentworth Fitzwilliam, the 8th Earl, in 1948, and in the knowledge that the title would die out in the absence of a male heir, the Estate was divided to represent the interests of different parts of the family. The Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation, which represents the family interests of Lady Juliet Tadgell, owns property in Old Malton and agricultural land to the north of the Town.

Twelve generations later, much of Malton is still owned by the Fitzwilliam descendants, the Naylor-Leylands, and today, the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate* is the freehold owner of much of the commercial heart of Malton and represents the family interests of Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland who, with his son Tom, is taking the family’s work for Malton into its fourth century.

*Read more about Fitzwilliam Malton Estate here: http://www.maltonestate.co.uk/