The following article, written by Chris Berry, was published in the Yorkshire Post on Saturday 31st August 2013:
On the face of it the market town of Pocklington seems a little off the beaten track. It’s a handful of miles from the busy A1079 road that connects York and Hull but it doesn’t scream or shout its presence and at first glance neither does it appear to lead on to other well-known attractions.
In some respect that is probably the way many of the locals prefer it and why they choose to live in this relatively sleepy East Yorkshire market town, but Pocklington and its surrounding area actually offers a great deal more than you might expect and punches way above its weight.
If you enjoy the countryside then just a couple of miles on from the town is the delightful little unspoilt village of Millington with its fine countryside public house The Gait Inn run by ex-farmers Stuart and Helen Stephenson. Millington is a haven for walkers and cyclists and is situated in the wonderful rolling hills of the Yorkshire Wolds that are still largely ignored by tourists in favour of the Moors and Dales more’s the pity.
From the village of Millington I would urge you to take the long and winding road through the Wolds and contemplate the beauty of Millington Pastures. Once you have been here I guarantee that you will return again and again.
Just a mile and a half from Pocklington is the hamlet of Kilnwick Percy. It is home to Kilnwick Percy Hall a magnificent grade II listed country house built in 1845 and now a centre of Buddhist meditation. It’s also where you will find the massive championship golf course now known simply as KP and set over 120 acres with its 18 holes running to 6035 yards. KP is also much more than a golf course offering accommodation and a special events venue.
Burnby Hall Gardens and Museum is Pocklington’s most famous visitor attraction with its beautiful lakes featuring the most amazing hardy water lilies, a secret garden, Victorian garden and rockery. The gardens have won Gold in the Yorkshire in Bloom awards for the past three years and were the inspiration of Major Percy Marlborough Stewart who completed eight around the world voyages from 1906-1926. The Stewart Museum looks back on his career.
Major Stewart purchased what was then known as Ivy Hall in 1904. He travelled the globe, often with his wife, as in inveterate explorer, collector and big game hunter. When he was back from his expeditions he devoted his time to his gardens and bequeathed them and their family home to the good of the people of Pocklington on his death in 1962. His legacy remains one of the town’s greatest assets and is often referred to as one of Yorkshire’s hidden gems.
Pocklington is also home to the Wolds Gliding Club situated on what was once an RAF airfield. The club started life in 1969 when a group of Leeds City Council bus drivers and conductors formed what became the Leeds Gliding Club. Following two years of renting various airfields they took up residence at Pocklington where the Wolds Gliding Club has grown into one of the country’s leading gliding centres.
Of course gliding requires wind of some kind and Pocklington was once renowned for just that with a number of windmills.
The town’s centre is based mainly around Market Place and hosts a weekly market every Tuesday. What it misses out on high street retailers is more than made up for with a mix of independent shops, curios, pubs, coffee shops and Judson’s wine bar, a popular meeting place for young and not so young.
The Flying Man is the main late night bar in town and features live music every Saturday prior to moving into nightclub mode from midnight. Its name comes from a chap called Thomas Pelling who once tried to fly using home made wings. It didn’t work and he fell to his death!
Whilst that may have provided morbid entertainment the Ritz Cinema in Market Place used to provide the real thing every week. When it closed its doors for the final time it could have signalled the end for big screen entertainment in the town, but instead it brought about what is today a leading live performance venue and is now very much a player on the professional circuit.
Managed by the lovely Janet Farmer and James Duffy the pair have succeeded in bringing major names to Pocklington Arts Centre, a 200-seater auditorium, since April 2000 when the former Ritz Cinema became theatre and cinema rolled into one utilising what was once the Dress Circle seating area.
Steve Harley, Midge Ure, Ralph McTell, Kiki Dee and Radio 2’s Clare Teal have all sung the praises of the Arts Centre’s intimate atmosphere. US band The Magic Numbers and UK singing legend Joe Longthorne are both gracing the Pocklington theatre this autumn.
Pocktoberfest is another major draw for those from outside of the town It celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with headliners Richard Hawley and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze. This year’s charities set to benefit are Help for Heroes and the RNLI.
Pocklington Town Centre
Burnby Hall Gardens