The village of Gilling East together with its neighbouring hamlets of Cawton and Grimston have a population of 345 of which 105 are under the age of 15 and 89 are aged over 60. There is no shop but a pub, 2 churches (Anglican and Roman Catholic), a village hall, the Ampleforth College golf course and clubhouse and the Ryedale Society of Model Engineers’ miniature railway. Autism Plus is developing a training workshop on the edge of the village. Sixty percent of the village population are Roman Catholic.
Holy Cross is a grade 1 listed building, with a Norman pillared nave, 14th century chancel, south aisle, 15th century tower and important monuments to the Fairfax family. The three bells date from 1664. The organ was installed in 1883. Repairs to the tower and the installation of the clock were carried in 1908 with money raised by the renowned cricketer Ranjitsinhj. Trinity College, Cambridge has been patron of the church since 1835 and since 1958, together with the Crown and the Archbishop of York, patron of the benefice.
In 2011 the north porch was restored with a Leader grant and further funding from the AONB and Trinity College Cambridge. In 2015, a block of pews was taken out of the west end to create more social space. Following the 2016 Quinquennial report a committee was formed to draw up an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant for repairs and improving facilities. This will give a welcome opportunity for outreach and wider engagement with the community.
There are 41 people on the church electoral roll. The average Sunday attendance is 15 adults out of a worshipping community of 30. Normally, a number of worship, social and fundraising events are held each year including a candlelit concert for the Ryedale Festival, annual concerts for local musicians, adult and children and an art exhibition for local artists.