Askrigg is a small village and civil parish in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is part of the Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire, England. The village and its parish are positioned in Upper Wensleydale, 12 miles west of the main town, Leyburn, and 5 miles east of Hawes, the home of Wensleydale cheese.
Askrigg was granted a Charter for a weekly market by Elizabeth I in 1587 for the holding of a weekly market on Thursday, and of fairs in spring, summer and autumn. Askrigg's prosperity peaked in the eighteenth century when trade in textiles and knitting was most lucrative and the village supported many craftsmen and gained a reputation for clockmaking.
The neighbourhood of Askrigg was traditionally the home of the Wensleydale Metcalfe family who lived at nearby Nappa Hall. Mary, Queen of Scots, was once imprisoned in the house, possibly before she was moved to Castle Bolton further down the dale. Nappa Hall is a fine example of a 15th-century fortified manor house. It was built in 1459 by James Metcalfe at a time when there were frequent raids by the Scots. A single-storey central hall sits between two towers, a four-storey western tower and a two-storey eastern tower. The four-storey tower has a turret, lit by slit vents, for a spiral staircase that climbs to crenellated parapets. The taller tower retains its original windows, but sash windows were inserted in the 18th century in the lower two-storey block which housed the kitchen and service rooms, at the opposite end of the hall. In the 17th century, an extra wing was added. The hall remained in the hands of the Metcalfe family for centuries.
Askrigg's two- and three-storey stone houses and cottages line the main street, with the 15th-century parish church of St Oswald in the centre of the village in the old cobbled market place, complete with its market cross erected in 1830, stone pump and an iron bull ring set into the cobbles. The bull ring dates from the 18th century and earlier, when bulls would be tied here and then attacked or baited with dogs. A local historian wrote that “it used to be a custom in Askrigg for a man who wanted to fight to go and turn the bull ring over; if another man was feeling the same, he came and turned it back and they had a fight.”
One of the local pubs, the Crown Inn, has been known under this name since the 1850s and there has been an inn at this site since the late 18th century. The other pub, the Kings Arms, was built in 1767 as a coaching inn by John Pratt, a local who had made a fortune as a jockey. Pratt was a racehorse breeder and master of the Askrigg Harriers during the 18th century. He kept his hunters and pack of hounds in a yard behind the house he built on Askrigg’s main street in 1767. The kennels and stabling date to the late 18th or early 19th century. The kennels had a semi-circular enclosure attached and the long row of stabling lay beyond. Pratt's hunters were ridden in and out of his land through Robinson’s Gateways on the main street. The site has now been developed to provide holiday accommodation.
According to the 2001 census Askrigg had a population of 411. The village of Askrigg has a rich history as a former market town, but in more recent years it has become notable via its role as the fictional Darrowby in the BBC TV series All Creatures Great and Small.
The civil parish area covers the village itself and several small hamlets including Newbiggin and Woodhall. It is also known as Askrigg and Low Abbotside Parish, as it occupies the same geographic area as the two parishes combined. (Source: Wikipedia article, Askrigg, section: Geography)