Although it is home to a small number of houses, Easby is not really a village as such. It is really just an area that has built up around the ruined Easby Abbey on the outskirts of Richmond.
Not to be confused with a village of the same name in the North York Moors, this Easby has a hotel overlooking the abbey and a small number of holiday cottages, but there are no real shops or amenities.
The Abbey is what draws people to the area. Founded by Roald, the Constable of Richmond Castle, in 1152, the priory is sometimes referred to St Agatha’s. Although that is the abbey’s real name, it is easier to call it Easby to avoid confusion with the small medieval church next to it – which is also called St Agatha’s.
Like other Yorkshire Dales monasteries such as Bolton Abbey and Fountains Abbey, Easby was abandoned after Henry VII began the English reformation in the 16th century. Over the years, the buildings fell into ruins, but some of its features, including its choir stalls, were saved and now reside at the parish church in Richmond.
The Abbey was once home to the Easby Cross, a majestically carved stone cross dating back to 800-820. A plaster replica can be seen inside the church, but the original is now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Both the church and the abbey are open to the public and there are no admission charges.
History buffs will likely be drawn to the town of Richmond itself where they can visit its striking Norman castle. Constructed from 1071, Richmond Castle was created by Alain Le Roux de Penthievre of Brittany who was a companion of William The Conqueror.
After being given the title of First Lord of Richmond, Alan Rufus (as he became known) was handed the job of dampening down opponents to the Norman conquest and the castle was designed to be a fortress against rebellions.
The castle was used as army barracks during the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the main legends to come from that period tells how a group of soldiers found a tunnel entrance under the building’s keep. Unable to fit through the gap themselves, they called on a drummer boy who was instructed to squeeze through and then beat his drum so they could gauge how far the tunnel went.
After the boy had walked around three miles his drumming stopped. It is believed that the roof tunnel collapsed, crushing the boy. On some cold nights visitors have claimed to have heard the sound of the boy’s drum eerily echoing around the castle.
Another key attraction in Richmond is the Georgian Theatre Royal which has a history going back to 1788 and is one of the oldest theatres in England. It originally closed in 1830, but was reopened during the 1960s and given a multi-million pound restoration in 2003.