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The name has been variously written Guisborough, Guilsbrough, Gisbrough or Guisbrough (sometimes Gysburne), and by the Norman scribes in the Domesday Book and the ruined Gisborough Priory which dates back to the 12th century, Ghigesburgh.

From that valuable record we learn that Ghigesburgh contained three manors, one of which was the ancient demesne of the crown; the second was held by Uchtred, and the third by Lesing; but at the Conquest, these Saxon owners were hunted down, and their lands given to the Earl of Moreton. The town must have been a place of some note at that early period, for it possessed a church and resident priest. These manors were subsequently transferred by the Conqueror to Robert de Brus, Lord of Skelton

Saint Nicholas' Anglican Church, home to the de Brus cenotaph and built mainly from stone taken from the Priory. In 1842 Admiral Thomas Chaloner inherited the estate and in 1856 created the present mansion house Gisborough Hall
A curious 18th century market cross decorated with sundial and weather vane is located at the top of Westgate. Originally a Market cross to 'remind men that they had a sense of morality in the market' this was replaced with a ball as the Puritans banned the siting of market crosses.

Extensive residential development occurred during the 1960s and 1970s with the expansion of the chemical industry (at Wilton) and the steel industry (at Redcar).