Playing the market

Hovingham Market
Hovingham Market
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IT isn’t technically a market town, for it isn’t a town. Yet the stalls that line the narrow streets in the picturesque Howardian village of Hovingham have become a veritable countryside shopping mall.

As of last weekend, 100 monthly markets have come and gone, without the need for a planning review by the council nor even a set of temporary traffic lights.

Hovingham Market

Hovingham Market

Instead, the locals have taken it on themselves to put up the stalls and in many cases stock them with local produce. The “home made” selection sits alongside goods from professional traders and farmers for whom Hovingham is now a regular destination.

The village population amounts to only around 350 but on market days – the first Saturday of the month plus an extra one in December – around three times as many people squeeze into the car parks at the Malt Shovel and on the Hovingham Estate, behind the Main Street.

Since we last made Hovingham the subject of our Village Focus, the numbers have swelled and by last weekend’s milestone, the coffers were sufficiently full to give away £200 worth of market vouchers to visitors.

The event also saw the creation of an anniversary cake by several farms and bakeries from surrounding villages.

“We’re very keen on local provenance, so and we ask that the bacon for the butties is bought from the local farmer and the bread rolls are bought from the Hovingham bakery,” said Caroline Davis, one of the organisers.

The pace at which the market has grown from a seedcorn idea into a significant local attraction can be ascribed to the 100 volunteers who communicate with the stallholders, maintain the newsletter and website and negotiate with the council.

“We have someone on the team who can navigate his way around the various councils and authorities and who knows how those things work,” said Ms Davis.

With co-operation from across the village and without a main road anywhere near, there has been no need to create diversions for visitors – though queues on the B1257 between Barton-le-Street to Stonegrave are to be expected on market days.

The market chairman is Pete Stark, a local farmer who has maintained a stall since the first one in October 2009. He said: “The market champions local food, art and crafts. We support local community groups who, through the market, can meet residents in a safe and friendly environment and raise funds.

“It is often a surprise to visitors to learn that our market is run entirely by volunteers.”

The stalls run as community projects have raised nearly £100,000 since the initiative began.