Helperby & Brafferton

The Junk Shop

It would appear that this is one village with two names, but it is certainly two villages. Which name comes first depends from which direction you enter the villages. Brafferton is the older village, of Saxon origin, though the first settlers were probably Roman. Brafferton evidently derives its name from 'Broad-ford-ton.' The villages are about 6 miles from Easingwold, North Yorkshire.

It was the Vikings who built Helperby a little later. Tradition says that the name Helperby comes from the River Swale providing St. Paulinus with 'help hard by' (or Helper-By) when he needed water for baptisms. Now here is a remarkable story. It concerns St. Paulinus, an Italian monk:

It was in the seventh century that Pope Gregory sent a mission to Britain under the leadership of St. Augustine. Paulinus was among this band. Their mission was a success, for Augustine achieved the conversion of no less a person than Edwin, King of Northumbria. Paulinus was sent further south and to Brafferton by his leader.

A letter later written by Pope Gregory tells of the report  he had received from Brafferton. Ten thousand men, not to mention the 'innumerable' women and children, flocked to hear the word of the Lord. Paulinus led his huge gathering down to the River Swale where, immersed in the water he baptized many. Then they too baptized others. No one, it is said, was hurt in the crowd nor harmed in the water. The water was found to have restorative powers and some clambered out on to the bank their infirmities healed. For a while the Swale was dubbed the Jordon of England. 

The Post Office

Today, Helperby  & Brafferton offer ideal settings for both dwellers and visitors alike. In July 2000 I went to the 'Helperby Street Fair' incorporating 'The Hidden Gardens of Helperby.' This is lovely, for a small fee you get to see the many splendid gardens belonging to local residents. 

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Images of the Villages (Click to enlarge)

The Main Street is cobbled and lined with houses of quality. A television drama 'The Life and Crimes of William Palmer' was filmed here. There are four pubs, two Village Halls, two Manor Houses, an antique shop named 'Junk and Disorderly,' a friendly Village Store and apparently the best butchers in the whole of Yorkshire.

It's places and events like these that make our County so very special.