Holme on Spalding Moor, East Riding

PUBLISHED: 08:33 30 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:07 20 February 2013

RAF Holme on Spalding Moor opened in 1941 as a Bomber Command Airfield. A memorial to the squadrons stands by the main entrance

RAF Holme on Spalding Moor opened in 1941 as a Bomber Command Airfield. A memorial to the squadrons stands by the main entrance

Could this be the longest village in the East Riding asks Chris Titley

High on its hill, All Saints appears to have a lofty disdain for Holme on Spalding Moor. The church cannot help but look down on the rest of the village whose residents need strong legs (or a car) to worship here.

At one time, its said, all of Holme was on a level with the church. That was when Spalding Moor was uninhabitable boggy marshland and everyone clung to the hill for sure-footed sanctuary. When the moor was drained, the village promptly decamped downwards leaving All Saints alone and aloof.

Its a very splendid isolation. From here you can see across the Vale of York to the horizon line of power stations puffing clouds into the sky.
The church rewards the climb as much as the view. Part of the Nave dates back to the 13th century, the crude stone font to the 12th and it stands amid a large and picturesque graveyard. More modern history is commemorated in stained glass with a window dedicated to RAF 76 Squadron who were stationed at the nearby airfield. It bears the words To see the dawn breaking safely Holme.

A steep descent sees the visitor land in the heart of Holme itself. This is a busy village and at seven miles, perhaps the longest in the East Riding.

One of the most prominent buildings, easily spotted from the hill, is Holme Hall. It was built in the 18th century for the 4th Baron Langdale of Holme, a descendant of Sir Marmaduke Langdale who was a prominent royalist in the English Civil War and fought alongside Prince Rupert at the Battle of Marston Moor. Today the hall is a Sue Ryder Care home.

Another Holme landmark, dating from the same century, recalls those who found themselves at the opposite end of the social scale from barons or knights. The workhouse has a distinctive circular brick tower where rule-breaking unfortunates were looked away.

To the south of the village, near the River Foulness, is the Bursea Chapel, built in 1872. The original chapel is said to have been founded in the 1500s by monks who would guide pilgrims safely across the marshland on their way to worship at Whitby. Elsewhere in the village youll find the Holme Beacon, a replica of the one constructed in Elizabethan times ready to be lit if England was invaded.

But Holme is not hidebound by history. Its a lively, active place where the past is not forgotten but the present given priority. So the old airfield, opened by Bomber Command in August 1941, home to American airmen in the 1950s and later used as a flight test base by aircraft companies including Blackburn Aviation, is now a thriving industrial estate.

And the railway line, victim of the Beeching axe, is today a well-trodden route for walkers. Madge Johnson, a resident of Holme on Spalding Moor for 40 years, wished the village still had a rail link. You could jump on the train at Holme on Spalding Moor and go to Market Weighton, to Hull or to the coast. You used to buy away day tickets.

That aside, she wouldnt change much about the village. With other members of the parish council shes working hard to ensure new, affordable housing is built here so the younger generation can stay.

The people are very friendly, she said. We very rarely seem to have any trouble. I wouldnt say its a quiet village, but we never seem to have a lot of bother.
Quiet? Far from it. One of Holmes distinguishing characteristics is how much is going on. It has no fewer than five pubs, including the Blacksmiths Arms, with its unusual wall-mounted sun dial and a bowling club behind the car park. Ye Olde Red Lion, meanwhile, has its own stone-built circular well, festooned with flowers and stocked with Koi carp.

There are plenty of independent shops too. These include a recently refurbished post office, butchers and bakers both run by the Laverack family, and Margarets DIY which residents swear by. It has a bit of everything in, says Madge.

A little over a year ago a Drop-In Coffee Shop opened on the High Street. Managed by the Christian Fellowship, it has proved very popular. And the village hall built by Holme traders 50 years ago last December is home to an impressive number of activities including badminton, bridge, keep fit, cubs, scouts, mothers and toddlers, and the WI.

When they retired, Karl and Ann Sheridan wanted to move from their home in the West Midlands to Yorkshire, to be near Karls sister. But where? After looking at various options they visited Holme on Spalding Moor and knew it was the place for them. It seemed to have a lot to offer, said Karl.

We had a look round, spoke to people here and discovered theres a thriving community and good community spirit. Its got a lot of amenities here, which a lot of villages havent, theres a butchers, bakers although there are no candlestick makers unfortunately
They moved in two and a half years ago and we havent rued the day. We like it very much.
Karl is a member of the Holme Amblers, run by Paul Whitworth, and says the area is great for walks. Holme does have a good number of public footpaths around. Theres quite a lot here to offer from the tourist point of view.


Theres Yellowtops Country Park, which offers fishing and cabins for holidaymakers. Thats virtually on whats called the old rail trail. You can walk from Bubwith to Holme, and from Holme to Market Weighton, all on a nice secluded track thats free from traffic and next to some picturesque scenery.

In fact, says Karl, you could fill your whole day up in this village. We are finding that a lot of people are discovering Holme on Spalding Moor. Nearly everybody that weve met whos moved here has been thrilled to bits with the decision. They come here and they do get a warm welcome.

Where it is: Holme on Spalding Moor is found where the A163 meets the A614 about halfway between York and Hull.

Where to park: In the village hall car park its free. The entrance is opposite Joffcos Restaurant on the High Street.

What to do: Walk along the Bubwith Rail Trail, enjoy refreshments at the restaurants, cafs and pubs and visit All Saints Church.

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