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Hessay York

Hessay is a village and civil parish in the unitary authority of the City of York in North Yorkshire, England 4.7 miles (7.5 km) west of York.[1]


The rural village of Hessay enjoys a peaceful open setting within the vale of York, a glacial plane created in the last ice age.

To the east, York Minster is visible from New Road. To the west, RAF Menwith Hill is visible. To the north, both the Kilburn White Horse, and Bilsdale Television mast some 25 miles (40 km) away may be seen during darkness.[2]

The Name Shirbutt Lane is Derived from Shire Butts, from Days When the village was a Jousting Location, it is still possible on occasion to recognise the location of the jousting butts.[2]

Hessay is described in the Domesday Book at Hesdesai, the lake where the hazels grew.[3]

Hessay used to have a railway station on the Harrogate Line. The station closed to passengers in 1958,[4] but the Ministry of Defence sidings at Hessay were open until 1991 with closure of the unit effected by March 1996.[5]

According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 181,[6] increasing to 265 at the 2011 Census.[7] Before 1996 it had been part of the Harrogate district. Recent developments have increased the population to over 300 though the actual figure is not known.[8] There are approximately ninety houses in Hessay.


Although the village has no pub, no post office and no shop, it has two fine churches - St John the Baptist Anglican church[9] and the Methodist church.[10] The village was given to the St Mary's Abbey, York by Osbern de Archis and continued in their possession until The Dissolution.[11]

Centre of Yorkshire[edit]

In February 2012 the parish of Hessay was deduced to be at the geographical centre of Yorkshire by Ordnance Survey.[12] However, four years earlier, the honour was bestowed upon Cattal further west, with the ash tree at Barkston Ash also being pointed out as being the centre of Yorkshire.[13]


Hessay boasts an abundance of wildlife, Notable bird species include Barn Owls, Tawny Owls, Little Owls, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylarks, Green Plover (Lapwing), Oyster Catchers, Jays, Rooks, Magpies, Carrion Crow. From the population of small mammals which includes Field, Wood and Harvest Mice, Voles and Shrews, supports the upper end of the food chain of Merlins, Kestrels, Red Kites, Buzzards, Hobby, Sparrow Hawks, Goshawks, a Peregrine falcon has even been seen to take prey from the surrounding farmland. There is a small but increasing mumuration of Starlings which are believed to roost at the west end of Hessay Industrial Estate. Curlew Field Farm takes its name from the Curlews which nest in the Vicinity. Kingfishers and Grey Herons visit the many small ponds in the Parish which are home to newts and salamanders. There are many garden birds such as, blue tits, long tailed tits, great tits, Blackbirds, Song and Mistle Thrush, Robins wrens Tree and House Sparrows. The cuckoo can be heard calling in April and May.[2]

Bats roost in a number of buildings and trees in the village.


External links[edit]

Media related to Hessay at Wikimedia Commons

THE honour of being the exact geographical centre of Yorkshire has gone to a village near York despite similar claims from nearby parishes.

The Ordnance Survey used its own detailed records of the county’s boundary and the help of a computer programme to come up with a field in the village of Hessay as the dead centre of Yorkshire.

However, the Yorkshire Ridings Society, which promotes all matters Yorkshire immediately pointed out that a similar operation using a computer program four years earlier had given the honour to Cattal, a hamlet a few miles west of Hessay.

Barkston Ash, near Selby, also claims the honour, on the grounds that the ash tree at the centre of the village which gives it its name, is at the centre of Yorkshire.

The issue was on the agenda of the latest parish council meeting at Hessay, though members and residents decided not to officially mark their position at the centre of the county.

Chairman Mark Barratt said: “It’s on the agenda just to see if the residents of the village want to celebrate or mark it.”

He said he understood the centre of the county was once thought to be Moor Monkton Church, though he was not interested in creating a “storm in a teacup” over which parish held the honour.

Coun Roger Hildreth said: “I think we want to be cautious at to what we do because if it changes, and we have paid for a sign to say we are the centre of Yorkshire, we are going to look very silly.”

Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Ridings Society has declined, so far, to support either the 2012 or the 2008 Cattal decision and has called for a definitive solution.

It has also suggested the centre may be moving about, or that the matter should be decided on a yearly basis between Cattal and Hessay.