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Westow From Spy Hill.jpg
Westow village
Westow is located in North Yorkshire
Westow shown within North Yorkshire
Population 339 
OS grid reference SE753652
Civil parish
  • Westow
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town York
Postcode district YO60 7
Police North Yorkshire
Fire North Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament
List of places
54°04′39″N 0°50′58″W / 54.0775°N 0.84933°W / 54.0775; -0.84933Coordinates: 54°04′39″N 0°50′58″W / 54.0775°N 0.84933°W / 54.0775; -0.84933

Westow is a country village and civil parish in the Ryedale district of the county of North Yorkshire, England. The village has a population of around 300, measured at the 2011 Census as 339.[1] Until 1974 the village lay in the historic county 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 an active village cricket team with a strong family tradition and records show the team existed as far back as 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. 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. Westow's strong sense of community remains.

Village landmarks[edit]

  • The parish Church, St. Mary;
  • The parish War Memorial;
  • The village pub, The Blacksmiths Arms ;
  • Westow Hall (location for the annual village summer fete);
  • The Cricket Field;
  • The Village Hall;
  • The Village Playground;
  • The Village Pétanque court (formerly the tennis courts for Westow Hall);
  • Westow Croft (until 1970s serving the area as the maternity hospital);
  • The hill overlooking the village, Spy Hill;
  • The woods to the West of the village with a 5 km circular path, Howsham Woods.


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.


Nearby places of interest[edit]

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.

Westow in wartime[edit]

  • A community cross commemorates Westow villagers who gave their lives in the First World War;
  • 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 Westow during the Second World War;
  • During the Second World War 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;
  • A Halifax Bomber crashed on a training flight near Greets Farm, Welburn in 1942;
  • A P-51 Mustang crashed at Fotherdale Farm near Thixendale in 1945;
  • Many evacuees from Hull which was heavily bombed during the Second World War, were housed with Westow families.

Transport and services[edit]

Local services available in the village of Westow include:

  • The village pub
  • Daily Royal Mail Collections and Deliveries
  • Milk and paper delivery services
  • Mick Walker, Butcher
  • Peter Hutchinson, Tailor (notably 8th generation of family)
  • Joiner
  • Plumber
  • Weekly refuse collection
  • Limited bus service to Malton
  • Broadband services available
  • Supermarket home deliveries available (all major supermarkets)
  • Courier (all major couriers serve the area)
  • Local organic produce services
  • Fuel oil, LPG and wood supply services (mains electricity only)
  • Accommodation

A neighbourhood watch scheme also operates in the village.

The nearby market town of Malton (5 miles) offers a good range of 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 is easy access to York, approximately 14 miles its varied facilities, including mainline railway station with direct services to London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.


Westow does not have a school, however a number of facilities are a short drive away:

Governance and politics[edit]

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. He was widely known in Anglo-German and left-wing circles in Britain. Thomas was the son of German Jewish Communist émigré parents. In 1981 he received Bavarian Film Awards, Best Director.

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).


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 11 August 2015. 

External links[edit]