Village focus: Hovingham

The North Yorkshire village of Hovingham. Picture by Gerard Binks.
The North Yorkshire village of Hovingham. Picture by Gerard Binks.
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There can be few more inviting smells than that of freshly-baked bread and so when a wholesome whiff reaches your nostrils on a stroll through the delightfully quaint village of Hovingham, it is hard not to feel at ease with the world.

The source of the smell in question is Hovingham Bakery and Rolling Pin Cafe, picturesquely located in a one-storey stone building next to the ford of Marr’s Beck which flows northwards through the village.

The business is run by husband and wife, Simon and Victoria Kelly, who took it over last November.

Victoria is Swedish and brings a Scandinavian influence to the style, service and baked goods on offer. Simon has always been a chef and has spent years working in Michelin-starred kitchens. He can be found hard at work in the village from 4am preparing doughs for freshly baked cobs and loaves each day.

The couple live in nearby Helmsley and had been looking for premises to launch their own venture for years.

“We had been looking for our own thing to do and never really found anything we really wanted or could afford,” Simon said.

“Hovingham is gorgeous and the setting for the bakery is postcard. Business is very good and we have been increasing since day one.”

Some of the Kelly’s baked goods help stock a pop-up café at the village’s market which is held on the first Saturday of every month – including today. More than 50 stalls typically feature and it attracts up to 1,000 visitors, far more people than the village’s 350 residents.

Regardless of its size, this village on the edge of the Howardian Hills has an active community. An action group, formed in May 2009, can call on about 100 regular volunteers whose role it is to actively promote community spirit and involvement.

The group co-ordinates the village market and its pop-up café is hosted each month by a different local community group or band of volunteers to raise money for a specific cause, such as the local church or village hall.

The group has undertaken all sorts of tasks, including putting up nest boxes for owls and bats, wildflower planting and encouraging residents to bed bee-friendly plants. Volunteers even clear the snow in winter, repaint railings, clean signs, tidy pavements and build litter bins to keep the place looking spick and span.

Phil Chapman, the group’s co-ordinator and parish council chairman, said: “This must be the only village in North Yorkshire where villagers go out and clean all the street signs in the village.

“We have around 120 of them but if you have a dozen volunteers you can get it done in two hours and we usually manage to end up at a local hotel which provides us with a coffee and a cake – it all instils a bit of community spirit.”


Hovingham has a school, a playground, The Malt Shovel pub and The Worsley Arms which has 20 bedrooms.

Its cricket club plays in front of Hovingham Hall; reputedly the country’s oldest continuously played on private cricket ground.

The hall is home to the Worsley family. It was built for Thomas Worsley between 1750-70 and was the childhood home of the Duchess of Kent.