In the first century AD, when the Romans sailed up the Ouse to Eboracum (York), they probably realised that an area of higher ground on a large bend in the river, in an otherwise flat landscape, offered a vantage point of strategic importance. Thus our village name Acaster probably comes from a combination of the old English word for river ‘ea’, with the Roman ‘ceaster’ meaning fortification. The second part of our village name comes from the ‘Malbis’ family, whose Norman French origins can be traced back to William the Conqueror in 1066, and whose links with the village are well documented from the mid 12th century. The tomb of Sir John de Malbyse (1316), with its life-sized effigy of a knight, lies in our 14th century village church.
A very comprehensive, extremely interesting, informative book, ‘ A History of Acaster Malbis’, (ok, so this is a plug!), with detailed information on the above and many other fascinating facts and articles, is available from reception!
One Hundred Years of Tourism
The farmhouse itself dates from the 16th century, the development of the farm as a holiday park can be traced back 100 years! In 1899 my Great Grandfather, Tom Smith, a salmon fisherman on the river Ouse (unfortunately the salmon have long since left!) had the first recorded caravan to stay on a piece of land adjacent to Chestnut Farm, (are we the oldest caravan park in Britain?) An article in the Yorkshire Evening Post dated 29th May 1939 titled ‘Where our caravan rested 40 years ago – Leeds pioneer of pre-motor transport recalls prodigious pies at Acaster’, describes these pioneering days of caravanning, ‘on a piece of land belonging to a fine Yorkshireman, Tom Smith’, with tales of ‘cooking sea pie, trapping lamprey, playing the game of brasses and the fate of the flag’.
After several generations of our family welcoming visitors to Chestnut Farm in the year 2000 we successfully completed the conversion and renovation of the traditional brick built farm buildings to form holiday cottages.
Each of the cottage names is a link to Acaster and its history, Ferry – a long lost link across the Ouse, the majestic river without which neither Acaster nor York would exist, Ings – old northern name for a riverside water meadow, of which there are two in Acaster, Church Ings being situated at the front of Chestnut Farm, Pinfold – a small brick enclosure situated on the village main street, with its origins in medieval times they were a common feature in villages, being used for the temporary confinement of stray livestock, Darling and Cowper - both these cottages are named after two Acaster families who’s names were given to the two village lanes which start / finish at the main park entrance, Ned – named after Ned Lane which no longer exists, however its location is shown on the 1763 estate map as running from Cowper Lane either through or alongside what is now Chestnut Farm Holiday Park!
We cannot guarantee that you will catch any salmon – however we can supply you with the recipe for sea pie and assure you of a warm welcome. As resident proprietors we are on hand to give any information to help make your visit more enjoyable.
Steve & Alison Smith
Check out our prices here.
Tom smith and his son Turton, salmon fisherman circa 1900