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This is a village you can’t a-ford to miss
The village of Hovingham sits in the heart of the Howardian Hills. RACHAEL CLEGG made her first trip to the village to find out what it has to offer.
Some say that to get the true taste of a place you have to have experienced its public transport; to experience Hovingham, one has to have been to Hovingham Stores particularly as the village suffers from poor public transport links.
As a newcomer to the village, I made Hovingham Stores my first port-of-call. Within minutes, the parish council chairman, Alick James, and Richard Orange-Bromehead, chairman of the local branch of the British Legion, and member of the now dormant local Conservatives, are providing a brief history and sociological analysis of the village.
Initially, Alick had gone to the shop to buy coconuts and Richard to buy a paper. Both are in the store for almost an hour.
Alick has lived in Hovingham 20 years and jokes, "the locals talk to me now". However, his fondness of the village is clear. "It's nice being in a proper community; it's incredibly friendly and I fitted in immediately. There are only around 400 people here so everybody knows everybody."
This is certainly true; 99 per cent of the shop's customers are on first name terms with shop owner Margaret Goodwill or her shop assistant Katherine, a Hovingham resident of 60 years.
There are other catalysts to Hovingham's social fabric; the Malt Shovel pub is a former 17th century coaching inn, with its history mapped on the invoices that hang above the bar.
In 1914, it was a £1 to rent a room and eight shillings for funeral refreshments.
The church is also strong in Hovingham, playing a central role in village life and that of the school, which is Church of England.
Likewise, the village hall is an important meeting place, with social and sporting events such as the recently initiated table tennis club. It has provided a gathering point for younger people, "in addition to the shelter at the bowling green," adds Alick.
Other events highlight the personal nature of village life. Once every two years is the open gardens' event where members of the village open up their gardens to fellow villagers.
A standard fee is paid in exchange for a map, which marks all the gardens that are available for viewing.
Villagers spend two or three months preparing their gardens for the event.
There are also two big car boot sale events a year which everybody attends.
With no primary industry, the majority of Hovingham residents commute to Leeds, Hull, Malton and York to work.
It means the village's current aim is to create and attract light industry, particularly as some companies have moved out of the village to bigger premises.
Hovingham is not, however, redundant of trade; it has a fireplace company, a photographic studio, a bakery and a crested goods company.
One of the village's significant sources of work is The Hovingham Estate, which has been in the ownership of the Worsley family since 1563 and remains their permanent residence.
The estate comprises some 1,250 hectares of woods, a farm, a shoot, a hotel (The Worsley Arms) and a quarry. The majority of the Estate is tucked within the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Estate employs 16 members of staff.
Hovingham Hall is a grade I listed building and was built between 1750 and 1770 by Thomas Worsley in the Palladian style, though, unlike Palladian's classical villas, Worsley's is entered through the stables.
Hovingham Hall is the only house in England that was designed as a house and a stable the state bedroom is only a few yards from the stables.
The Estate is integrated into village life; its cricket field (the oldest privately-owned cricket field in the country) is used by Hovingham County Primary School.
The school is adjacent to Hovingham Estate and shares the vista. There are only 33 pupils in the school, an advantage for the newly-appointed head teacher, Maureen Skinner.
"It wasn't long before I knew all the names of the children; for example: there are only two students in year four. It is very friendly in Hovingham and I felt at home straight away."
Returning to Hovingham Stores to say goodbye confirms the local store is the quintessential means of experiencing a new village or town, and by far superior to any bus journey.