With a meandering beck and white picket fence ‘zipping up’ a wide expanse of undulating grass, edged by beautiful stone cottages, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Hutton le Hole has always been described as a picturesque village.
Wrong. In fact the Victorians regarded it as ‘ill-planned and untidy’ due to the overcrowded homes of weavers and smallholders, the green used as a farmyard and the beck as a sewer. Luckily today things are more pristine with a clear moorland stream, Hutton Beck, that splashes and winds its way through the pillowy mounds that form the village green.
The origins of the village’s name is still debated but hole is thought to reference the Bronze Age burial hollows in nearby moorland.
The open-air Ryedale Folk Museum, with more than 20 reconstructed buildings including an Iron Age roundhouse, is the perfect place to find out more about the heritage of both the village and the North York Moors.
Hutton le Hole might be rooted in history but there is still plenty going on, with art exhibitions at the museum and events, from duck races to Easter egg trails, organised by the village hall, while see talented artisans at work, including Belgian chocolatiers and a bakery.
Nearby is the equally beautiful village of Lastingham, nestled below Spaunton Moor’s escarpment. Here it’s worth visiting St Mary’s Church, famous for its atmospheric eleventh-century crypt, and see where Anglo-Saxon monk, Cedd of Lindisfarne (later St Cedd), was laid to rest in 664. William I set about restoring the abbey in 1078 and the crypt today probably dates from that time. It’s one of the most impressive pieces of early Norman church architecture and is unique in England in having a central aisle, two side aisles and a nave. Warm up afterwards in the village pub directly opposite the church.
Or head south to Appleton le Moors, a classic example of a 12th century planned village whose houses originally all had long gardens, or garths, 330 feet long, stretching to the back lane. Keep an eye out for the house known as 'Three Faces' (opposite the Village Hall), whose carvings above the door are of three 'blood suckers' – namely a priest, a doctor and a lawyer.