For decades they have welcomed travellers and pointed the way to some of England’s most idyllic villages.

Now the much-loved traditional black and white direction signs and village nameplates of the Howardian Hills National Landscape, North Yorkshire, are being given some tender loving care.

The refurbishment work follows a survey by volunteers from the Howardian Hills Partnership, who hit the road and recorded 40 old style direction signs across 47 villages and hamlets and reported on the condition of 103 name-plates.

A few of those inspected were relatively modern part-plastic replacements, whilst some of the older ones had corroded, been bent or faded badly.

Where repairs were not possible, cast iron replacements made by skilled craft workers in Staithes have been installed, faithful to the original classic design, as part of the on-going programme.

The work is being funded by the Howardian Hills Partnership in conjunction with local communities.

Ellie Hook, manager of the Howardian Hills Landscape, said: “Direction signs and name-plates are just the kind of thing we often taken for granted, but they actually make a big contribution to the sense of place. If they weren’t there we would really miss them. We’ve been careful to go back to the original design when replacement is necessary using cast iron and some of the new village name plates have reflective studs in the embossed lettering, a feature which seems to date back to the early 20th century. Retaining local distinctiveness is very much part of our management plan for the Howardian Hills. It’s also a community effort working with volunteers and local parish councils.”

Locations included in the project so far have included Hovingham, Stonegrave and Sproxton. Since the initiative began 69 village nameplates, many on stone plinths or millstones, have been restored or upgraded with the latest round of work seeing a further six done including Whenby and Brandsby.

The Howardian Hills National Landscape was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1987 and renamed as a National Landscape in 2023. The area covers 204 square km (79 square miles) of the North Yorkshire countryside, nestled between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York. It is a unique and captivating landscape with its well-wooded rolling countryside, patchwork of arable and pasture fields, scenic villages and historic country houses with classic parkland landscapes. The Howardian Hills Partnership, including a small staff team based at Helmsley, is funded by Defra and North Yorkshire Council and works to ensure the natural beauty of the area is conserved and enhanced. National Landscape Partnerships own no land and have no statutory powers, so work is delivered by convening strong networks with landowners, farmers and partner organisations, working together to plan projects and secure funding to deliver them. For more information go to