The Yorkshire village – West Heslerton – comes with a historic hall that has 21 bedrooms, 42 houses, a restaurant/pub, a sports pavilion with playing fields, a mechanics garage and over 2,000 acres of countryside.
Eve Dawnay used to be the owner of the village, but when she died five years ago, she left everything to her family. Now, the entire village is going up for auction and will be sold to the ‘kindest’ bidder. The estate is worth around £20 million, and the family are hoping to find a buyer that can afford to buy the estate, but also somebody that is willing to conserve the unique village’s way of life.
The Dawnay family have owned the village for around 150 years; Eve Dawnay inherited it when her father died in 1964. In 1948, she had graduated with a BA in French from Oxford University and then, before returning to Yorkshire, she carried out some work in Paris and London. As well as doing well academically, Eve was also a very skilled craftswoman.
Director of Cundalls estate agency, Tom Watson is handling the sale and has said:
“Miss Eve Dawnay was a wonderful woman, she was very kind-hearted and the rent for the tenants of the village is, and have always been, extremely low. This has helped to keep the village community happy and content, with a variety of different age groups. Obviously, the residents of West Heslerton are hoping that the person to buy their village will have the same compassionate nature as the late Eve Dawnay.”
Thanks to affordable rent for the villagers and Eve’s clever social engineering, this has ensured that the village’s community is vibrant and full of life. The village supports a variety of activities such as football, bowling and cricket.
Watson expects that developers will be very interested in the sale, and investors will be ready to exploit the opportunities that are on offer:
“This investment would be perfect for somebody who wants to build up a legacy, someone who would like to be remembered. The estate has more or less stayed the same for the last 50 years, so it is now a blank canvas, ready for the next person to shape the village for the next generation.
“The village has potential, there are endless possibilities to modernise buildings, develop land and take advantage of the commercial opportunities. However, I do know that in an ideal world, Miss Dawnay’s family hope to see the estate carry on in its distinctive way of life.”
Verena Elliott is Eve’s younger sister, she now lives in London and has said:
“It isn’t the most beautiful village, but my family, especially my great grandfather, grandfather, father and Eve, loved it. I think that it would be hard to find a village that has a community that is as loyal and lovely as West Heslerton. This kind of sense of community is becoming more and more difficult to find nowadays.
“But times have changed, and I am excited to see what new life will be breathed throughout the village.”