Acaster Malbis

Image Credit: DS Pugh

Acaster Malbis is a small village in the unitary authority of the City of York. It’s located 5 miles south of the city and along the River Ouse. Overall, Acaster Malbis is 2,000 acres big and is home to two churches, an inn, and a popular holiday park. According to the 2011 Census, it is home to 669 residents.

Shopping in Acaster Malbis

Although Acaster Malbis doesn’t have its own shopping area, it’s close to McArthur Glen York Designer Outlet and the City of York. Both shopping areas are popular with people travelling all over the world to visit.


McArthur Glen York Designer Outlet is home to over 100 designer brands which are selling their items with discounts up to 60% less along with a choice of restaurants and cafes to eat and drink. On a sunny day, visitors enjoy the outdoor areas and no matter the weather, kids can run riot in the covered children’s play area. York designer outlet offers free parking, including a park and ride to the city centre.

Another area close by to shop is the City of York. There is a mixture of both high street and independent shops along with shopping centres, restaurants, and cafes. York has distinct shopping areas which have their own speciality. One of the most famous areas to shop in York is the Shambles and the Shambles Market.

Poplar Farm Caravan Park in Acaster Malbis

The site of Poplar Farm Caravan Park including caravans, boats, and the River Ouse
Poplar Farm Caravan Park. Image credit: Poplar Farm Caravan Park

The village of Acaster Malbis is home to a family run caravan park called Poplar Farm Caravan Park. Its location along the River Ouse makes it a popular place for those wanting a quiet holiday or a bit of time away from everyday life.

The site allows people to rent caravans, take their own, camp in tents, fish, and moor their boats. Poplar Farm Caravan Park also sells holiday homes.

The Ship Inn in Acaster Malbis

The Ship Inn in Acaster Malbis with its outside lights on.
Ship Inn. Image Credit: Tripadvisor

The Ship Inn is Acaster Malbis’ public house, which contains a bar, restaurant, and 6 rooms which people can pay to stay in. It’s a 17th century public house featured in Barbara Whitehead’s book, “The girl with the red suspenders”.

In August 2008, the Ship Inn had to close when the River Ouse burst its banks and flooded the building. 9 months later, the Ship Inn reopened to the public after being renovated and refurbished.

Just months after the public house reopened, the owners had reported many mysterious instances such as lamps flying off of the shelves and a ghost spotted in the store room where the spirits were kept. They’ve also witnessed the fire lighting by itself multiple times and on one occasion during the summer, they fire lit and a few hours later, despite having pints of water poured on it to put it out, the fire started up again.

The previous owners of the Ship Inn have reported to have seen the same ghost. They have also said that the chairs moved about despite no one touching them.

Hauntings at Acaster Malbis

Other than the Ship Inn, there is another known haunting to have happened in the village. Local legend tells the story of Sister Hylda and Friar John.

During the 13th century, it’s said that there were underground passages from a monastery home to a convent of nuns of the Cistercian. On the eve of Saint Mark’s day, Lady Abbess of Nun Appleton called the Archbishop from Cawood along with the nuns of St. Mary’s Abbey to conduct high mass.

Lady Abbess wanted to put Sister Hylda’s wandering spirit to rest. Sister Hylda’s ghost had been seen wandering around the convent, monastery, and surrounding areas for seven years.

The monks and nuns chanted together at the altar. Soon, Sister Hylda appeared before them and said,

“In me behold Sister Hylda, dishonoured, ruined, murdered by Friar John, in the deep penance vault. He stands by my side and bends his head lower and lower in confession of his guilt. I died unconfessed, and for seven years has my troubled, my suffering spirit walked the earth, when all were hushed in peaceful sleep but such as the lost Hylda. Your masses have earned grace for me. Seek the middle pavement-stone of the vault for the mortal relics of a soul purified and pardoned by the blood of the Redeemer. Laud and blessing to his gracious name for ever!”

Travelling In & Out of Acaster Malbis

As Acaster Malbis is only a small village, it doesn’t have major bus routes or a railway station. Instead, the Harrogate Coach Travel runs through the village along the York Askham Bryan to Tadcaster Route.

The Appleton Road makes for easy travel to Bishopthorpe and then on to York. Temple Lane to Copmanthorpe joins up with the A64, which is located just out of town.

Education in Acaster Mablis

John Knowles founded the first school in the village in 1603. Village residents built the school of brick and children in the village attended once completed. However, it’s no longer around.

As of 2010, the main primary education for Acaster Malbis is the Archbishop of York’s CE Junior School in Bishopthorpe. The closest secondary schools to the village are Fulford School, Millthorpe School, and Tadcaster Grammar School.

Religion in Acaster Malbis

There are two churches in the village, which are the Holy Trinity Church and Acaster Malbis Methodist Church.

The outside of the Holy Trinity Church in Acaster Malbis
Holy Trinity Church. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Holy Trinity is the Church of England and as of 1967 is a Grade I listed building. There has been a church on this site since around the 12th century. It was owned by the Malbysse family until 1360, when it was passed on to the Fairfax family, who pulled it down to build the current church.

The outside of the Acaster Malbis Methodist Church.
Acaster Malbis Methodist Church. Image Credit: York Methodist

Acaster Malbis Methodist Church was founded in 1880 and is in the centre of the village. Since being built, it has changed very little.

History of Acaster Malbis

Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Acaster Malbis moved to North Yorkshire in 1974. The village was a part of North Yorkshire until 1996, when it became part of the City of York unitary. Despite being a small village, Acaster Malbis has an interesting background.

The village is first mentioned in the 1866 Domesday book as ‘Acaster’. However, further records have been found, and it was originally called ‘Val-Caester’, ‘val’ meaning wall, and ‘caester’ meaning camp. The closely spelt ‘Castra’ has Latin origins and indicates that the Roman army was based here at some point. After the Romans left, Anglo-Saxons took over the area. They changed the village’s name to ‘Aca’.

During the reign of Kind Richard I, ownership of the lands were granted to the Malbysse family, giving the village its name that we know today. Acaster Malbis would be owned by the family for around 200 years. ‘Malbis’ is a Norman family name which in French means “very swarvy”.

Richard Malbysse lead the massacre of Jews at Clifford Tower in York. After King Richard I found out, he punished Richard Malbysse by seizing the land and estates owned by the family.

In 1314, John de Malbysse became sheriff of Acaster Malbis. Around this time, John’s daughter married into the Fairfax family, who would later own it after the death of John and his son Walter. The Fairfax family held onto the land and estates until 1745, when Lady Dawes bought it. Eventually, Lord Wenlock inherited Acaster Malbis.

In 1942, RAF Acaster Malbis was commissioned. It was built for the purpose of being a grass airfield. However, a year later, in 1943, it was reconstructed into a Class A bomber station, which handled the storage and disposal of ammunition.

RAF Acaster Malbis was later sold by public auction and then used as an airfield from the 1970s to 1980s. After this, the site fell into disuse.

A view of RAF Acaster Malbis airfield from the sky.
Acaster Airfield from the sky. Image credit: UK Airfields & Airports