The town's skyline is dominated by a 15th century church tower. The town’s architecture is a mixture of quaint old houses and modern buildings and the town has several unusual street names reflecting its history from the Iron Age onwards.
It is now considered to be a commuter town for York, Hull and Leeds, although there is some employment in light industrial and commercial spheres as well as agriculture.
Pocklington lies at the centre of the ecclesiastical Parish of Pocklington, which also encompasses the small hamlet of Kilnwick Percy as well as a scattering of outlying farms and houses. Historically, it was an ecclesiastical parish in the Harthill Wapentake.
After being an urban district from 1894 until 1935, Pocklington was then absorbed into Pocklington Rural District, the municipal government for the surrounding rural area.
In 1974 most of what had been the East Riding of Yorkshire was joined with the northern part of Lincolnshire to became a new English county named Humberside. The urban and rural districts of the former counties were abolished and Humberside was divided into non-metropolitan districts. The new organization did not meet with the pleasure of the local citizenry and Humberside was wound up in 1996. The area north of the River Humber was separated into two "unitary authorities"—Kingston-upon-Hull covering the former City of Hull and its closest environs, and the less urban section which, once again, named itself the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Pocklington gets its name via the Old English "Poclintun" from the Anglian settlement of Pocel's (or Pocela's) people and the Old English word "tun" meaning farm or settlement, but though the town's name can only be traced back to around 650 AD, the inhabitation of Pocklington as a site is thought to extend back a further 1,000 years or more to the Bronze Age.
Pocklington developed through the Middle Ages while many similar places fell into dramatic decline. Pocklington owed much of its prosperity in the Middle Ages to the fact that it was a local centre for the trading of wool and lay on the main road to York, an important national centre for the export of wool to the continent. Wool was England’s principal export in the earlier Middle Ages.