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The village of West Heslerton, near Malton in North Yorkshire, has officially gone on sale to prospective buyers after over 150 years of family ownership.
When Eve Dawnay sadly passed away in 2010, the village that had been passed down from generation to generation for a century-and-a-half faced an unsure future. Eve inherited it from her father in the mid-1960s and managed to gain the respect of local people with her generously low rental prices. Those who lived alongside her remember her fondly, but many are fearful of the possibility of rising costs once new owners are found.
The village itself hosts 43 houses, a pub and restaurant, playing fields and a sports pavilion, along with the beautiful 21-bedroom West Heslerton Hall. A popular figure among locals since moving into a smaller four-bedroom house in the village centre, Ms Dawnay died without an heir and as a result the village was passed down to beneficiaries.
“Miss Dawnay was a wonderful lady,” said Tom Watson of Cundalls estate agency. “She was very kind and the property rents are, and have always been, very low.”
For many, the charm of the area has been its lack of modernisation over the last 50 years, but with potential investors showing an interest in its purchase, the likelihood of further development is a distinct possibility. With over 2000 acres of undeveloped countryside, residents are hoping that the incoming buyer will share Eve’s hopes and vision for the village, ensuring that local life can carry on untouched by the outside world and without the risk of rental prices being hiked.
The new owner(s) can expect an annual income of £388,000 from rent and agricultural subsidies, but that is likely to increase if further development is carried out. Eve’s sister Verena moved to London once she turned 18, but still considers being raised in West Heslerton a privilege and a blessing. However, she agrees that times have changed and understands that seeing new life breathed into the local community could benefit the residents further.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity – I just hope we can find the perfect buyer,” added Tom Watson.
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