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Westow is a village and civil parish in the Ryedale district of the county of North Yorkshire, England. The village lies in the historic boundaries of the East Riding of Yorkshire. Westow is situated in the lee of Spy Hill, bordering the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 3 miles (4.8 km) from the A64 road linking Leeds to the East Coast, 5 miles (8 km) west of the market town Malton, and 15 miles (24 km) east from the city of York.
The village has deep associations with agriculture and is surrounded by a traditional, diverse farming landscape, much of it estate owned and managed. The village has views to the North York Moors National Park to the east, and the Yorkshire Wolds to the south.
Westow has a village cricket team with records dating back to 1875. There are regular Pétanque tournaments in the village involving teams from all over Yorkshire. Lands around Westow are the setting for traditional, seasonal field sports which provide income to the local agricultural community and serve as social events. The Middleton Hunt covers the area and is well subscribed.
The civil parish also includes the hamlets of Firby and Kirkham. The population of the civil parish was 339 in the 2011 Census. Neighbouring villages are Crambe, Whitwell-on-the-Hill, Welburn, Howsham, Leavening and Burythorpe.
Parish records of graves dating back to 1500s build a view of a small community established around agriculture. It is highly likely the village origins are older than this as the Ryedale area has significant evidence of Medieval and Roman settlement and activity. In all probability the location of Westow was originally chosen and occupied at a time when farming techniques were undeveloped and people were highly dependent on the natural environment and what it can provide. Westow is surrounded by fertile soils with good irrigation, and in the lee of the hill it is partly sheltered from north and easterly winds. These characteristics are likely to have led to the location of Westow being chosen for settlement. Today as throughout the centuries, for some residents village life continues to revolve around farming and agriculture, or providing services those living in the area. With improved mobility and recently telecommuting, others have chosen Westow for the country living, commute to towns and cities for work or work from home, whilst others have retired into the area.
The oldest part of Westow village lies within a conservation area and is south of the village pub, along 'Main Street'. Property predominantly comprises detached, semi-detached and terraced houses and cottages, finished in traditional locally quarried oolite limestone, with red pan-tile roofs. There are fifteen Grade II English Heritage listed properties in Westow. These include the church, the pub, Westow Hall, Yew Tree Cottage, Chantry Cottage, Corner House, Fox & Hounds House, Herbert Cottage, Manor Farmhouse, Tarrs Cottages, and High Farmhouse amongst others.
This property market attracts considerable attention. Property is generally freehold and much has stayed in the same ownership for some time, often generations of the same family. Much property and surrounding land is owned by the private country estates of Garrowby Hall, Westow Hall, Castle Howard, Whitwell Hall and Kirkham Hall. This has a major influence on the market as the owners generally have no desire to sell. In addition, in recent years a small number of commuters and city dwellers have chosen the village for second homes for the country life and due to good road accessibility to the transport links to London and Edinburgh.
- Kirkham Priory, built by Augustinian monks in 1121 on the banks of the Derwent River;
- Castle Howard, a stately home built between 1699 and 1712 for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle;
- Wharram Percy, a deserted medieval village;
- Richard III's seat and the tomb of Edward of Middleham, the Prince of Wales at Sheriff Hutton;
- Stamford Bridge, the scene of the Vikings defeat in 1066 by King Harold Godwinson;
- Howsham Mill, the restored water-mill that used to serve Howsham Hall;
- Yorkshire Air Museum, preserving the areas military aviation heritage;
- Hovingham Hall, the childhood home of the Duchess of Kent;
Point-to-point racing takes place annually at Whitwell-on-the-Hill to the West of the village and is a popular, well-attended event.
The village is a popular way point for cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers as from the A64 road it is on the edge of excellent driving roads stretching from Beverley across to Helmsley and to Whitby on the North East English coast.
The village is also in military low-flying airspace zone (LFA12). On week days the sight of all types of military aircraft on training missions is a frequent and spectacular occurrence. Most frequent are the Short Tucanos from RAF Linton-on-Ouse.
World War IIEdit
During the Second World War Kirkham Priory was used for large scale trials of D-Day wading and amphibious vehicles by the British Army and was visited secretly by Winston Churchill and King George VI. Women's Land Army (WLA) civilians were billeted in the village.
Bombs were dropped close to Firby Hall by a German aircraft. In October 1942 a German Aircraft (Junkers Ju 88A from 7/KG4) was hit by ground defence fire during a low level attack on Driffield aerodrome. It crash landed on Richmond Farm, Duggleby with one fatality.
Many evacuees from Hull, which was heavily bombed during the Second World War, were housed with Westow families.
The nearby market town of Malton, five miles away, is the closest place to find most amenities, including hospital, police and fire stations, railway and bus stations, shops, restaurants, tennis and squash courts, swimming pool, rugby and cricket clubs, cinema and schools.
There are no schools in Westow.
Governance and politicsEdit
Westow used to lie within the Ryedale Constituency, held from 1987 by Conservative MP Mr. John Greenaway, until the constituency was abolished in 2010. It is now within the Thirsk and Malton constituency, held by the Conservative Kevin Hollinrake with a 19,456 majority, one of the more 'safe' seats in the country.
The lowest tier of governance is the Westow Parish Council, which represents an area that includes Westow, Firby and Kirkham. It has specific responsibilities to undertake on behalf of the parish residents and a small amount of budget from local council taxes. There are nine Parish Councillors and a Parish Clerk who meet usually every two months throughout the year.
- The East German dissident and writer Thomas Brasch was born in Westow in 1945, the son of German Jewish Communist émigré parents.
- Christopher Beckett, 4th Baron Grimthorpe, OBE, DL, (16 September 1915 – 6 July 2003), was a soldier and company director and resided in Westow Hall. He married Elizabeth Lumley in 1954, and was awarded the OBE in 1958. Beckett was the eldest son of Ralph Beckett, 3rd Baron Grimthorpe.
- Lady Elizabeth Lumley was born in July 1925. She is the daughter of Lawrence Roger Lumley, 11th Earl of Scarbrough and Katherine Isobel McEwen. She married Christopher John Beckett, 4th Baron Grimthorpe, son of Ralph William Ernest Beckett, 3rd Baron Grimthorpe and Mary Alice Archdale, on 17 February 1954. Baroness Grimthorpe's home is Westow Hall.
- Edward Beckett, 5th Baron Grimthorpe, (20 November 1954–) is a British peer and Westow Hall his childhood home. His father was Christopher Beckett, 4th Baron Grimthorpe and his mother Lady Elizabeth Beckett, Baroness Grimthorpe (née Lumley).
- Westow in the local press, "The Village With Hidden Talents"
- Wartime memories of Women's Land Army in Westow
- Wartime memories of staying in Firby
- Kirkham's Role in D-Day preparations
- Details of North Yorkshire aircraft crashes
- Diary of wartime events in North Yorkshire
- Baron Grimthorpe's obituary
- Malton connection to Charles Dickens
- Ministry of Defence Information on Low Flying Area 12
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