It was a typical village on the surface; smaller than most with no more than 300 men, women and children living within its boundaries, but with an honourable history of a thousand years. Nestled at the foot of the Yorkshire Moors in the bowl of Lake Pickering it was in the heart of a strongly rural area which had seen its farms decline and tourism fill the void in line with national experience. Nevertheless farming remained a significant factor in the lives of many villagers, even at the close of the first decade of the 21st century.
Over the years the village services had been lost; the shop had closed along with the joiner’s yard, the tailor’s, the butcher’s and the school. New houses had sprung up without any increase in services; the new inhabitants often worked away from the village. All in all it could have been viewed as a picture of a typical village in typical decline.
Unusually the village post office was still open, albeit only 2 days per week, providing a focus for those collecting pensions. The Village Hall tried to keep community events on the calendar, and a local bowls team won fame, if not fortune, in the local league.
Quaintly, doors were often left unlocked – although not as often as in the old days. Hardened Yorkshire farming families had diversified into exporting products to a global customer base. New home-based businesses were to be found in a number of households, offering children’s clothing, independent tradesmen, beauty therapies and specialist IT systems development and training.
It was a place of quiet determination, humour and neighbourliness. While the ancient church with its Saxon foundations and Victorian high gothic interior echoed around its tiny handful of worshippers, the people in the village exhibited those virtues and kindnesses often preached but rarely observed.
But tradition also dictates that every close-knit community has a seething brew of human triumph and tragedy beneath its placid surface. The village was no exception.