Enduring strength of Monk Fryston - Village Focus

Adapt to survive, that is the recurring message to rural businesses as the agricultural rulebook gets redrawn and the same can be said for village high streets as consumer spending habits change.

Faye and Kevin Coles run Monk Fryston Post Office and Village Stores, and their barn conversion offering guest accommodation has just been named Best New Business in Deliciouslyorkshires Taste Awards.

With the right offering in the right place there is life in the village shop yet and certainly so in the case of Monk Fryston Post Office and Village Stores.

Run by husband and wife Faye and Kevin Coles for the last ten years it offers a lifeline service, in the form of a post office, following the demise of local bank branches.

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The village shop has served the community for more than a century.

Monk Fryston Hall, a hotel and the former longstanding home of the Hemsworth family.

“We wanted to keep that up,” said Mrs Coles, who has lived locally all her life and up until three years ago worked as a speech therapist.

The secret to the shop’s success has been to move with the times.

“It’s been a question of reinventing ourselves every few years and thinking about diversification.

“We refurbished the shop in the summer and we worked out that the biggest footfall comes from the post office, the newsagents and the deli and takeaway food we offer, so we revamped it to ensure its longevity.

“Because of the closure of local banks, people use the post office more as a bank.”

The couple also strengthened their business model two years ago when they renovated a barn adjacent to the shop and opened it as a bed and breakfast - a sideline which has just been named Best New Business in Deliciouslyorkshire’s Taste Awards.

Beyond the shop there is plenty going on in Monk Fryston. The village, which lies between York and Leeds, has an active community association and church community, as well as a popular school.

Regular local events include Proms in the Pavilion at nearby Hillam Cricket Club, a beer festival and a village bonfire.

Formerly an agricultural stronghold, many of the farms have become livery yards for horses. Going back further, the village has a fascinating history.

Sue and Ray Newton, as secretary and chair of the local history group, Monk Fryston Time Team, have led efforts to uncover its secrets. With funds from the Heritage Lottery, the group organised an archeological dig which turned up Mesolithic flints, plus pottery and other artefacts associated with the monks of Selby Abbey. Also unearthed were the remains of an old road, thought to have been used for moving locally quarried magnesian limestone to Selby Abbey.

“It was probably hauled by oxen and then on rafts,” Mrs Newton said.

“Where we did the dig, we found an outcrop of the limestone. A lot of the old buildings here are made out of it.”

It seems that this is a village, and a community, with an enduring strength.


Monk Fryston Hall is a hotel in the village which was once the home to the Hemsworth family for 350 years.

The family is credited with bringing a clean water system to the village, among other achievements.

Monk Fryston: Past and Present, a book telling the story of the village is available, priced £3, from the village shop, nearby Bert’s Barrow and The Crown Inn and Cross Keys pubs.