Your Day Out: Exploring Hovingham

A view of Hovingham.
A view of Hovingham.

Hovingham is a beautiful village in the Vale of Pickering, about eight miles south east of Helmsley. We approached it along the B1257 from Malton, and viewing it from the south, the limestone houses with red pantiles were seen as we entered the village.

Having left the old Roman road from Malton, it was interesting to see the backcloth of the Howardian Hills, with woodlands around the south and west perimeters that once were part of the forest of Galtres. One tree – the King Oak is over 900 years old in the cave of the head forester. Four generations of one family have worked in these woods.

In the village centre is Hall Green. Lime trees shade the entrance to Hovingham Hall. This Italian style mansion occupies the site of a Roman villa, and many remains have been discovered. It was built about 1760 by Thomas Worsley, surveyor general to George III. The vaulted riding school was built for exercising Thomas Worsley’s horses.

The hall, church and village gather round like a happy family, and despite a cold showery day, one felt a welcoming warmth. Well maintained village greens bordered by white fencing add to the village’s charms. All Saints’ Church, with its Saxon tower, dates from the 11th century. Its west doorway is heavy and massive, and the tower is very impressive inside, with a quaint patchwork of stones, some herringbone masonry, and a massive arch. Look for a fragment of a Saxon cross. There’s also a Saxon stone with eight figures beneath round arches. You’ll recognise two – Mary and Gabriel.

Hovingham Bakery and Spa Tearoom looked most appealing, prominently sited by the babbling stream, crossed by little bridges, and with outdoor tables and chairs for alfresco dining.

Charming cottages, with colourful little borders and window boxes were a delight in themselves, and Harwood Cottage with its sale of apples and leeks.

The Manor House, with wooden porch and black rails looked onto the village green with a seat and memorial.

The memorial was to the memory of William Cayley Worsley, second baronet. Born 1828. Died 1897. Erected 1899.

Admiring walls festooned with autumn foliage and berries, Main Street demands attention, selling newspapers, fuel, fruit, vegetables, meat and cigarettes at Hovingham Stores.

Consider dining at The Malt Shovel, and take a look at the attractive village hall, as High Street continues to The Worsley Arms Hotel beyond the quaint village school with its unusual ‘oriel’ or bay window.

Turning into Park Street as signed to Coulton 2.5 miles you’ll reach The Park, selling tea, coffee, sandwiches, cakes and pastries with the option of dining in or taking out. Were we tempted had time permitted? The cream dining tables and flower tubs looked most inviting.

Next, onto Parkside Lane, with an unusual water trough in the car park walling, opposite a mature lime tree to the left.

A handsome, tree-lined drive continues out of Hovingham. I suggest you stroll along the drive to fully appreciate the rear of Hovingham Hall. The long frontage of the 18th century house is most impressive. The spectacle is enhanced by the great lawn, which has been used as the village cricket ground. A cricket festival has been held annually for well over a century, with famous players appearing too.

The hall stands in a park with a lake, filled by a stream crossed by fords and small bridges. Having explored the drive’s scenery, return to the village and maybe photograph the hall in its superb setting.

Before leaving this area, you may wish to take the road to Cawton. About a mile or so from the village is the Spa House. In the grounds are springs said to possess powerful medicinal virtues. These attracted numbers of people at the beginning of the 19th century. About 1838 it was hoped to develop Hovingham as a spa. A company of shareholders was formed for the erection of baths and commodious inn (The Worsley Arms), but this scheme however failed to develop.

Location: Hovingham is eight miles east of Helmlsey and eight miles west of Malton.

Refreshment: The Malt Shovel and The Worsley Arms, Hovingham Bakery and Spa Tearoom and The Park cafe.