Which would be your ultimate chocolate box village in Yorkshire? There are many to choose from and what adds to many is the pub in the centre.
When local lad Jake Leonard found that The Crown Inn in Hutton le Hole was for sale three-and-a-half years ago he didn’t let the North York Moors grass grow under his feet in doing something about it. He knew that here was an opportunity to put down roots and build a family life that would stand him on good stead for years to come.
“I grew up around here. My parents moved from Middlesbrough to Danby and then to Nawton when I was ten. Nawton is just five miles away and of course Hutton le Hole has always been one of the most popular villages in North Yorkshire. The stream running through it, the sheep grazing freely and its picture-postcard appearance draws families every year. I was running a pub in Malton when The Crown came up for sale and it was too good an opportunity to miss. I knew the previous landlord really well and the day it came on the market I rang him to check what was going on.”
Within an hour Jake had contacted his boss Richard Murray-Wells who owns Clarence Vaults in Malton, where Jake was working at the time. Within that same hour the deal was done and he had been offered the chance to run the pub of his idyllic rural dreams.
“I’m definitely a country kid. If I go down to London then within 24 hours I’m ready for being back home again and I’ve largely been involved in the hospitality trade since being a pot washer in a cafe in Helmsley when I was just 13. I’ve travelled quite a bit on mainland Europe, America and Australia and did six summers as a baker in the kitchens of Camp America cooking three meals a day for 300 people in New Hampshire, but the countryside around here has always drawn me back.”
Whilst Jake knew he lived in a beautiful part of the world it was another business he set up on his return that made him fully aware of how much he loved his homeland.
“I started my own taxi business and ran it for three-and-a-half years before selling it. Taxi driving made me appreciate Ryedale even more. I found myself exploring even more of it and finding places I’d never been before when picking up customers.”
“During the summer Hutton le Hole attracts crowds in their hundreds every day. Our first Easter here was red hot and that weekend alone we served over 1,000 meals. The staff were run ragged. I hadn’t realised just how busy it could be. The contrast is the wintertime. If there’s sleet, snow or frost predicted then we are quiet, but we’ve just had the mildest winter I’ve ever known up here.”
Hutton le Hole has a couple of bed and breakfast establishments, two caravan sites and a number of second homes that are rented out as holiday cottages. The farms are largely situated outside of the village. Amenities other than The Crown are limited, but in the Ryedale Folk Museum next door to the pub the village has another attraction.
“Over 50,000 visitors come for the museum every year and that brings us trade too. We run darts and dominoes teams and get our fair share of local people who support us well. I’d like to see a few more shooting parties using us, but that may come.
“The village has been well preserved and that’s not about to change. We still have no street lighting and all you can really buy is beer, food, ice cream, teas, coffees, cakes and gifts.”
Six months ago Jake moved his family – wife Emma, a personal fitness trainer, and their son Lewis, four, and daughter Lucinda, two, into The Crown. He well have travelled far and wide, but he’s found that a move of just five miles has been the best journey of all.