Guisborough was formerly part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, from 1974 to 1996 part of the County of Cleveland and now one of the towns in the unitary authority of Redcar and Cleveland. Gighesbore is recorded in the Domesday Book and the ruined Gisborough Priory dates to the 12th century. The priory and Gisborough Hall (16th century, demolished and rebuilt) are spelt without the first U. Some other old sites and names use that same spelling.
Some theories date the town to the Roman occupation of Britain, when it may have been a military fortification. There are a few Roman artifacts that support this, such as an elaborate ceremonial helmet, the Guisborough Helmet, but the theory remains unproven.
Extensive residential development occurred during the 1960s and 1970s with the expansion of the chemical industry (at Wilton) and the steel industry (at Redcar).
Guisborough market, held every Thursday and Saturday with a few stalls attending on a Tuesday, has long been a focal point of the surrounding area. Originally selling cattle and other livestock, the market developed into a general market for fruit and vegetables, clothing and flower stalls. The market is open from early morning to late afternoon on the recently restored cobbles that line Westgate, the principal shopping street.
The Guisborough Helmet is a Roman cavalry helmet found in 1864 near the town. It was originally fitted with protective cheek-pieces, which have not survived; the holes by which they were attached can be seen in front of the helmet's ear guards. It is lavishly decorated with engraved and embossed figures, indicating that it was probably used for displays or cavalry tournaments, though it may have been worn in battle. The helmet was found in what appears to have been a carefully arranged deposition in a bed of gravel, distant from any known Roman sites. After it was recovered during road works it was donated to the British Museum in where it was restored and displayed.
Saint Nicholas' Church
Saint Nicholas' Anglican Church is home to the de Brus cenotaph. The church was possibly in existence in 1290, although the chancel dates from the late 15th century. Its nave and interior have been altered since then; the church, in its present form, is the result of a major re-building (1903–08), to a design by the architect Temple Moore.
Gisborough Hall, a Victorian mansion, was built in the Jacobean style, in 1856. It is the former home of the family of Lord Gisborough. The estate was owned by the Chaloner family from just after the dissolution of Gisborough Priory until the 1940s. It is a Grade II listed building converted to a hotel, as part of the Macdonald Hotels chain; it is a popular venue for wedding receptions.
The town shared in the prosperity of the Industrial Revolution through its proximity to the ironstone mines of the North York Moors. One of Teesside's leading ironfounders, Sir Joseph Whitwell Pease, chose Guisborough as his country seat, the Alfred Waterhouse-designed Gothic revival Hutton Hall, situated at Hutton Lowcross. It had its own station on the Middlesbrough-Guisborough branch of the North Eastern Railway which closed in 1964.