Village of the Week: Welburn on the Castle Howard estate remains quintessentially British
Welburn is an estate village near Castle Howard with maybe around 500 residents. The actual number will be less as Welburn now incorporates newer housing developments but the heart of the village is very much traditional and a snapshot of estate life from a bygone era.
The village lies a short distance from one of the busiest roads in North Yorkshire - the A64 - and while you can argue it is perhaps a commuter village, it without doubt carries traffic heading for Castle Howard, the feel of a quiet and rural village remains.
It is uncomplicated in layout, there hasn’t been much added on here and there. Main Street is just that, it is the main street in the village. One off shoot is a lane that takes you to the church, the village hall and houses added in 1960. The other goes in the opposite direction towards farmland.
Farming was, and still is, one of the biggest trades in the village where most of the houses are from the 18th and 19th century.
Welburn has a pub, it calls itself “one of those lucky finds” and “without pretension”, and The Crown and Cushion (apparently it re-named itself after Queen Victoria passed through the village on her way to Castle Howard) is at the heart of the village.
So is the village hall. It started going in 2007 and is home to several groups and organisations. What rural village is complete without a WI and an indoor bowling club? Welburn has one and it also has a horticultural group, country dancing, l ocal h istory group, wine C lub and an art & c raft club.
The village school, Welburn Community Primary School, was rated as Good when it was inspected by Ofsted in 2019.
It was listed as having 88 pupils on the registers and it was noted that the school was much smaller than the average sized primary school.
It may be that Welburn is unfortunately affected by an ailment that is crippling many Yorkshire rural villages and that is that locals are being priced out and taking with them the feel of generations and communities - and in time other services.
A terraced house, although completely charming, is on at £250,000. The only other house listed for sale in Welburn is a terrace bungalow for the same money.
You can see why people want to live here though without a doubt.
The village is on the edge of the Howardian Hills an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty between the Yorkshire Wolds, the North York Moors National Park, and the Vale of York. They are named after the Howard family whose ancestry can be traced back to the 1400s and who still own local lands.
In fact it is a branch of the Howard family that owns the Castle Howard estate that is just a few miles away from Welburn and has been within the same family for 300 years.
That is not a bad view to have from your window - more than a thousand acres of countryside, farmland and ornate gardens as well as one of the grandest houses in England.
Just a few years ago, The Howardian Hills made their first appearance in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide - by being named the most desirable postcode in the north.
The Howardian Hills led the 2020 guide's list of the top 10 locations in the north, beating Alnwick on the Northumberland coast, which took second place.
The area features several villages on or near the Castle Howard estate - including Welburn and also Terrington, Slingsby, Gilling, Ampleforth, Hovingham, Crayke, Oldstead and Oswaldkirk - which are known for their attractive period properties.
The Sunday Times’s expert judges assess a wide range of factors, from schools, transport and broadband speed to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street to produce the definitive guide to the UK's finest locations to call home.
They have travelled thousands of miles around the UK, visiting the locations and talking to locals. They look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well-designed homes, and places bursting with community spirit.
Experts praised the Howardian Hills' 'handsome, mellow stone villages' and access to the market towns of Malton, Thirsk, Helmlsey and Easingwold. Castle Howard is praised for not 'defining' the area despite its significant presence, allowing each village to enjoy its own identity.
Welburn, with its individual amenities - there is also an independent, family-owned deli and bakery and post office – it is also one of the last remaining villages in the north of England to still have a red phone box - has an active parish council campaigning to preserve and protect the village.
A parish plan was drawn up after several surveys of residents to find out what people liked about living in Welburn, what they didn’t like and also what they wanted to see action taken on.
The countryside and beautiful surroundings were the biggest scorers but on the flip side - issues such as the business of the A64, car parking in the village and fears that more houses will be built were also raised.
As alluded to, it is an issue in rural communities that services are being lost and this was detailed in the parish plan,
It said: “Although considerable concern has been expressed over the possible future closure of any of our facilities, the actual usage figures show a different story. Whilst it can be expected that some facilities are, by their nature, only used infrequently or when the need arises, the others rely on regular footfall whether it be locals or passing trade.
“In real terms it comes down to the old adage `Use It Or Lose It`.”