Appleton Roebuck is the largest township in the South Ainsty area, covering some 2900 acres (1174 ha). It lies to the south of Acaster Malbis and to the west of Acaster Selby. The name means the place of the orchards. In the medieval period the township had large amounts of both arable and woodland pasture and it is the only township in the area which is listed as having a mill in the Domesday survey. The poll tax of 1379 records no fewer than 53 households, while Bolton Percy had only 19.
The township includes three moated sites: Woolas Hall, Nun Appleton and Brocket Hall. Woolas is probably the earliest, and the present house dates from the 15th century. While the land had been gifted to St Mary’s Abbey in York, it was leased back from the abbot and farmed by the Arques family. Brocket Hall is an unusual double moat, which has been described as ‘the best in Wharfedale’; it probably dates from the 12th century and would have had a large timber-framed house. The low-lying nature of the area meant it was easy to divert water courses to feed the moats and fishponds. The Nun Appleton site is smaller and an irregular shape.
The village quickly becomes the principal settlement of the area, although it doesn’t get its own church until 1868. It remained part of the parish of Bolton Percy until the reorganisation of the area in 1875, at which point Appleton Roebuck and Acaster Selby became one parish, while Colton and Steeton remained part of Bolton Percy. The village is rather dispersed, encompassing some smaller hamlets as well as the main settlement, which includes a large green. The church and the school sit opposite each other towards the west end of the village while there are two pubs: the Roebuck and the Shoulder of Mutton. To the south is the hamlet of Holme Green, which may have been the site of a mill.
Appleton Roebuck is today largely a commuter village, with easy access to both York and Leeds. Many of the village farms have been sold and developed for housing. It has a thriving school and both Methodist and C of E churches.