Ampleforth is an attractive village situated along the southern slopes of the Hambleton Hills, along the spring line which has assured a good source of water. The slopes run down to the Coxwold-Gilling Gap, a valley about six mile long and one an a quarter miles wide, which separates the Hambleton and Howardian Hills. The river Holbeck runs through the valley. The underlying soil is Kimmeridge clay and gravel. Historically, the village has existed since Saxon times and you can still see remains of the Saxon three field strip system, to the enclosures and high farming of the 1800‘s on the hill to the north of the village. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book.
The village is in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, about 23 miles north of York and 4 miles south of Helmsley. The main street of the village forms the southern boundary of the North York Moors National Park, with the northern area in the park, and the south outside. Ampleforth Parish covers an area of 2,420 acres.
The population of Ampleforth Parish, according to the 2011 Census is 1,345, with 760 in 342 households and 585 in Ampleforth College. The only major local employer is Ampleforth College, with farming, tourism and support services, the main occupations.
For electoral and administrative purposes, the parish of Ampleforth is part of Ampleforth Ward, along with other parishes: Coulton, Oldstead, Byland with Wass, Gilling East, Scackleton, Cawton and Grimstone. Ampleforth Ward is part of Ryedale District Council, a district of North Yorkshire County Council.
Historically Ampleforth was divided into three parishes or “wapentakes”, which meant that there was no overall squire and a community of freeholders began. This encourage a diversity of religions from the catholic community at Ampleforth Abbey to a quaker settlement in Shallowdale. The West End has been referred to as the “Protestant End” and the East End the “Catholic End”.
Until immediately after the Second World War, Ampleforth mainly consisted of houses built along the main street which serves as the principal thoroughfare, and St Hilda’s Walk. Most of the buildings date back to the 19th century and are built in local stone. After the war the village began to spread southwards and further east. Most of the construction took place in the 1960s, including a small council estate. In spite of their current age, these properties and those around Mill Lane and Fairfax Close are still referred to as “The New Estate”. Construction still continues today including the development of Abbey Gardens around 2015.