Cook Family Memorial Garden
Easby Lane, Great Ayton, TS9 6NT
The Cook Family Memorial Garden is located on Easby Lane in Great Ayton and is home to the Cook Family obelisk which was erected in place of the Cook Family home, otherwise known as Captain Cook's parents retirement home, when it was dismantled in 1934 and moved to the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne, Australia. The obelisk was constructed from stone taken from Point Hicks, Australia, which was the first land sighted by Captain Cook when he approached Australia.
Cook Cottage present day, located in Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne, Australia.
The memorial garden is an historic and thought provoking place to visit, you can take a few minutes to sit in the peaceful surroundings and imagine that Captain Cook's boyhood home once stood upon the grounds.
The newly refurbished garden will open to the general public on Saturday 18th May with lots of celebrations surrounding the grand opening. You can find out what's going on by reading our News Article or on our Apple News channel.
Great Ayton, the boyhood home of Captain James Cook has a wealth of interest appertaining to the great explorer. The Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum, a museum dedicated to the schooling of the young James, features as one of many attractions in the village linked to Captain James Cook.
Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum
Captain James Cook's father, after retiring from farm work in 1755, built a pair of cottages in the village. James Cook senior left the village in 1772 and the cottages were acquired by a local family. One of the cottages was demolished in 1928 to widen the adjacent Easby Lane carriageway with the remaining building advertised as “the home of Captain Cook" and auctioned for sale in 1930. It was eventually sold for £800 to the State of Victoria, Australia. There was much local speculation at the time that the Australians had been sold a “pup” as there was no evidence that James Cook the explorer had ever lived there.
Cook Cottage in 1895 - before the road was widened.
Notwithstanding architects from York surveyed the building and each stone and brick marked before dismantling for transport to Hull for shipping to Australia. The cottage was rebuilt in Fitzroy Gardens Melbourne and installed with antique furniture procured from a York shop.
The site of the cottage in Great Ayton was made into a Memorial Garden and an Obelisk erected to mark the site. The obelisk, a gift from Australia, is made from granite hewn from rock at Point Hicks – the land fall of the new continent sighted by Lieutenant Zachary Hicks of the HMS Endeavour. An identical obelisk stands at Point Hicks Australia.
Obelisk and Cook Memorial Garden prior to the refurbishment project
Cook Family Memorial Garden as it looks now prior to reopening
Foundations uncovered of the Cook Family Cottage
An old postcard from the Cook bi-centenary celebrations. Photos from around Great Ayton: Top left - Cook's birthplace in Marton: Top right - Cook Family Cottage on Easby Lane: Bottom left to right: Schoolroom Cook attended now Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum, Captain Cook's Monument and All Saints' Church where Cook's mother and five siblings are buried.
Great Ayton Parish Council took over stewardship from Middlesbrough Council of the memorial garden in 2004.
The Parish Council was awarded in 2018 a grant to refurbish the site from the European Union LEADER fund, which is the rural development fund for the UK alongside Defra and the European Union. Funding was awarded by Hambleton District Council's 'Making a Difference Fund' with support from Parish funds also. The refurbishment included marking the actual cottage footprint, an exercise which revealed the remains of the original foundations. Interpretation panels inform visitors of the history and by extending the siting of information panels to other “Cook locations” around the village, Great Ayton Parish Council intend to create an enhanced visitor experience.
The village of Great Ayton enjoys a significant local economy founded on visitor numbers. The Garden restoration Project which includes the construction of a new website is intended to increase visitor footfall – many from overseas, and enhance the attractions offered to visitors and the community.
There are many beautiful walks around the village and surrounding areas where you can trace the Cook Family history. Rest your weary legs in one of our lovely cafés, restaurants or pubs and check out the wonderful local independent businesses.