The tiny Yorkshire village which created its own woodland for the locals to enjoy

Holtby is a small village - but it has huge green credentials. Credit: Gary Longbottom
Holtby is a small village - but it has huge green credentials. Credit: Gary Longbottom
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Holtby may be one of York’s smallest outlying villages but it wears its green credentials with pride.

Around a decade ago when one of the remaining farmers decided he did not want to carry on renting a one acre field owned by the village, the Parish Council decided to turn it into a woodland everyone could enjoy.

Holtby has a number of historic features. Credit: Gary Longbottom

Holtby has a number of historic features. Credit: Gary Longbottom

Formerly called Constable Field, as historically the rent paid for the village policeman, it was planted with 660 trees donated by the Woodland Trust. A group was set up to carry out maintenance of the wood called the Holtby Woodlanders and it is now a well established green space enjoyed by visitors and residents.

And it didn’t stop there, a line of 20 trees has been planted on the approach to the village called Straight Lane and a large pond called Weir Pond has been restored. The pond, which once watered livestock is now a wildlife haven and even has its own resident geese who are well known throughout the area.

Former parish councillor and co-ordinator for the Friends of Weir Pond, Derek Utley said the village was very proud of its woodland and the pond.

“The woodland is very much used by walkers and is one of the walks on the Jorvik Way.”

As well as its greenery, the village is steeped in history which can be seen in its buildings. Some of the older houses date from 1750 -1850 and a number are listed buildings.

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There are also a few quirky pointers to its past, a Victorian letter box is mounted in a wall and two pre-war road signs can be found at each end of the village. There are also two disused public water pumps which only stopped functioning when piped water reached the village in the 1950s.

True to the spirit of Holtby Parish Council, a slightly different use was found for the red telephone box which had been decommissioned by BT.

Buying it for the nominal fee of £1, it was decided to turn it into an information centre.

Mr Utley, who was involved in turning it into Holtby Village Information Centre said it has permanent descriptions which show walking areas and also has a section for community events.

With no commercial amenities, one of the main meeting places is the Village Hall. Currently being extensively refurbished, it is available to hire and is used by a number of groups and for community events such as Harvest Supper meals.

The first Saturday in every month, it also becomes the Holtby Trader Shop, selling fair trade goods and hosting local suppliers. As well as shopping it offers the opportunity for a coffee and a chat.

The other focal point in the village is The Church of the Holy Trinity which, in its current form, is built on the original Norman foundations dating back to around 1170. Inside it has oak panels and furniture made by the famous Robert ‘Mousey’ Thompson and a modern stained glass window celebrating the millennium.

Factfile

In the 19th century The Yews was one of 12 local farms supplying chicory roots to ‘Chicory Smith’ a York merchant who had a national monopoly on the produce which was used for blending with coffee.

Holtby is one of the 12 small villages within the City of York Council area to have Washed over Green Belt status. In the Village Design Statement, it describes this as being villages which are generally relatively remote from the main transport corridors with limited potential for new development and contributing to the main objectives of the Green Belt.