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For people with Masham as a surname, see Baron Masham and Damaris Cudworth Masham. For the village in Yemen, see Masham, Yemen.
The Marketplace at Masham
Masham is located in North Yorkshire
 Masham shown within North Yorkshire
Population 1,235 (2001)
OS grid reference SE225808
Civil parish Masham
District Harrogate
Shire county North Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town RIPON
Postcode district HG4
Dialling code 01765
Police North Yorkshire
Fire North Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Skipton and Ripon
List of places

Coordinates: 54°13′22″N 1°39′15″W / 54.2227°N 1.6541°W / 54.2227; -1.6541

Masham (/ˈmæsəm/ MASS-əm) is a small market town and civil parish in the Harrogate district of North Yorkshire, England. It has a population of 1,235.[1] Situated in Wensleydale on the western bank of the River Ure, the name derives from the Anglo-Saxon "Mæssa's Ham", the homestead belonging to Mæssa. The Romans had a presence here, but the first permanent settlers were the Angles. Around 900 AD the Vikings invaded the region, burning and laying waste to the church and causing great suffering in Masham. They also introduced sheep farming, something for which the town is well known today.

The nearest railway stations are Thirsk and Northallerton. Both are on the TransPennine Express line; Northallerton is also on the East Coast Main Line.


Masham was historically a large parish in the North Riding of Yorkshire. As well as the town of Masham the parish included the townships of Burton-on-Yore, Ellingstring, Ellington High and Low, Fearby, Healey with Sutton, Ilton cum Pott and Swinton.[2] In 1866 the townships became separate civil parishes.[3] Masham Moor was an area of moorland to the west of the parish bordering the West Riding, common to the parishes of Masham and East Witton. It was divided between the parishes of Healey, Ilton cum Pott and Colsterdale in 1934.[4]

The area of the ancient parish, except Burton-on-Yore, was known as Mashamshire from the 12th century or earlier.[5]

St Mary's Church was most likely founded in the seventh century and stood somewhere near the present town hall on what used to be known as Cockpit Hill. The graveyard yielded 36 burials in a recent excavation. The present church — while having some Anglo-Saxon stonework and the stump of an eighth-century prayer cross — is mainly Norman with fifteenth-century additions. Masham was given to York Minster in the mediaeval period but, as the archbishop did not wish to make the long journey north to oversee the town's affairs, the parish was designated a peculiar.

Between 1875 and 1963 the town was served by the North Eastern Railway built Masham branch railway.

On 5 July 2014, the Tour de France Stage 1 from Leeds to Harrogate passed through the town.[6]


The market place is by far the largest in the district.[citation needed] It is tightly bordered on its south and west sides by ranges of two- and three-storey buildings. To the south-east, lies St Mary's Church, Masham with its large churchyard.

Of note for a relatively small town is that it is home to two working breweries, Black Sheep Brewery and Theakstons, situated only a few hundred yards from one another. It is also home to one of the oldest markets in the UK, receiving its first market charter in 1250. Wednesday and Saturday are market days, popular among both locals and visitors. Masham's importance as a major sheep market is the reason for the huge market place and its beautiful Georgian houses. The market originally thrived because of its nearness to Jervaulx and Fountains Abbeys, with the monks' large flocks of sheep. The annual Sheep Fair is in September.

Recurring events[edit]

Masham is home to the Masham Steam Engine & Fair Organ Rally. It was started in 1965 to try to raise money for the local town hall and it has gone from strength to strength ever since. The organisers are the Masham Town Hall Association. The Black Sheep Brewery sponsors popular annual folk festivals; previous performers have included Hugh Cornwell (of The Stranglers). A cultural highlight is Masham Arts Festival every two years. The next one will take place in 2015. The annual Sheep Fair is in September.


  1. ^ Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Harrogate Retrieved 25 August 2010
  2. ^ Genuki: places in the parish of Masham, 1822.
  3. ^ Vision of Britain: unit history of Masham
  4. ^ Vision of Britain: Masham Moor
  5. ^ William Page (editor) (1914). "Parishes: Masham". A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Tour de France Stage 1". Retrieved 15 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Masham at Wikimedia Commons