From grand country houses such as Burton Constable Hall to exceptional local museums like Bridlington’s Bayle Museum and the distinctive, windmill-capped Museum Of East Riding Rural Life, East Yorkshire features plenty of attractions suitable for those aiming to leaven their travels with insight into the county’s people and places as they existed in the past.
Here are 10 of the best historic sites in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Burton Agnes Hall is an Elizabethan stately home with award-wining gardens, set in East Yorkshire, England. The origins of the estate can be traced back to 1173, when Roger de Stuteville built a Norman manor house on the site, part of which still stands today.
The newer, larger hall of Burton Agnes was built by Sir Henry Griffith in the early 17th century, based on designs that were thought to have come from Robert Smythson, an architect.
As well as thousands of species of plant, the walled garden holds many hidden horticultural treasures, including a maze constructed from yew trees and a ‘jungle garden’ featuring bamboo and large shrubs, plus fruit and vegetables.
Located in Kingston upon Hull, Wilberforce House is the birthplace of William Wilberforce, the British politician, social reformer and abolitionist. As the MP for Kingston upon Hull and subsequently Yorkshire in the late-18th and early-19th century, Wilberforce became hugely influential in the process of ensuring an abolition bill was brought to and passed in parliament.
Today Wilberforce House museum tells the story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the crucial role Wilberforce played in its eventual abolition.
3. Beverley Minster
Beverley Minster is a gothic masterpiece and one of the largest parish churches in the UK, larger even than a third of all English cathedrals. Located in Beverely, East Yorkshire, the minster’s origins lie in the monastery founded around 700 AD by Saint John of Beverley, Bishop of York, whose remains are buried beneath the nave.
Beverley Minster features shafts constructed from Purbeck Marble, the richly ornamented 14th century tomb of Lady Eleanor Percy and one of the few remaining frith stools in England which predates the Norman conquest.
4. Rudston Monolith
The tallest standing stone in the United Kingdom is located in a churchyard in the village of Rudston, East Riding of Yorkshire. Known as the Rudston Monolith, the monument stands at 7.6 metres and is nearly 2 metres wide and dates to the Late Neolithic or early Bronze Age period. It may extend several metres below the ground.
It’s possible that the Ruston Monolith stands at the centre of a range of prehistoric archaeological sites in the Yorkshire Wolds, which include henges and settlements. The parish church was sited here after the Norman conquest by the lord of the manor, who must have recognised or assumed the location’s ceremonial importance.
5. Skipsea Castle
Skipsea Castle was once a motte and bailey castle controlled by the Counts of Aumale. Built around 1086, its remote location may have protected a road and supported a nearby coastal port. In the 12th century, a fortified settlement was built on a ridge now known as Skipsea Brough, and enclosed by a large earthen rampart.
When the castle’s owner Wiliam de Forz rebelled against Henry III in 1221, the castle was destroyed. What remains of Skipsea Castle is a great mound, 85 metres in diameter and 13 metres high. In fact, the mound predates the Norman castle and has been identified as an Iron Age earthwork. Today it is managed by English Heritage and open to visitors.
6. Flamborough Lighthouse
Flamborough Lighthouse is an active lighthouse in the East Riding of Yorkshire, built in 1806 to mark the Flamborough Headland for vessels heading for Scarborough and Bridlington. The ligthhouse has been in contonious use, though the last lighthouse keepers left on 8 May 1996 following automation. Tours of the lighthouse are available, and the 119 steps to the top are rewarded with superb views.
The first lighthouse was built on the Flamborough Headland in 1669. It was made from chalk and still stands nearby, making it one of the oldest surviving complete lighthouses in England.
7. Sledmere House
The Grade I listed Georgian country house of Sledmere is located in the village of the same name in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The house is set within a park designed by Capability Brown, where visitors can enjoy an 18th century walled rose garden and a paved sculpture court.
8. The Museum Of East Riding Rural Life
The Museum Of East Riding Rural Life is crowned by Skidby Mill, an impressive four-sailed mill that is surrounded by its original outbuildings. A display on the restoration of the mill which was completed in 2010 can be viewed on the flour bagging floor, while in the mill’s outbuildings visitors can explore the museum’s collections of objects related to the rural and agricultural heritage of East Riding.
Another renovation began on Skidby Mill in 2021, which resulted in the closure of the mill tower and the removal of the sails. However, the museum and miller’s garden are fully open. Visitors can access the mill’s first floor, which contains a display of machinery used to grind animal feed at the height of Skidby Mill’s operation as a business.
9. Burton Constable Hall
Burton Constable Hall is an Elizabeth Country House and a Grade I listed building near Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Set in a 300 acre park designed by Capability Brown, the earliest part of Burton Constable Hall dates to the 12th century but the current structure is Elizabethan – the product of Sir John Constable’s 1560s building project.
Today Burton Constable Hall is one of Yorkshire’s finest country houses. Visitors can move through 30 rooms filled with furniture, paintings and sculpture, while walking trails canvas the large historic parkland. Inside the Stable Block resides a 60 foot long skeleton of a Sperm Whale which became stranded on the nearby coast in 1825.
10. Bayle Museum
The Bayle Museum is a local history museum in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, set within the 12th century stonework of the Bayle Gate and with a collection dedicated to local area. The Bayle Gate once served as a gatehouse to a Norman castle, and then to the 14th century Bridlington Priory.
The Bayle Museum’s main exhibition stretches over the building’s top floor, which once housed a porter who monitored the comings and goings of traffic through the gate. The museum has also been used as a prison, a town court, a schoolroom, garrison and town hall.