From Plough Stots to Pollinators

The Goathland Reading Room is a single-storey brick building located in the centre of Goathland, a rural village in North Yorkshire best known for its appearances as Aidensfield in the long-running television series ‘Heartbeat’. Constructed in 1894, it was built by village subscription, with the intention that it should be used as a reading room or library, a place where the educated could read to the poor.

In recent times, the building has been occupied by a number of community groups, most notably the traditional longsword troupe, the Goathland Plough Stots, who rehearsed and housed an exhibition of dance memorabilia in the premises for a number of years. The Goathland Plough Stots is one of Yorkshire’s traditional long sword teams and may even be the oldest still performing together and dancing a bespoke dance which dates back to the early 19th century. When the building proved too small for their needs in 2018, the Reading Room was occupied by the Porthole Foundation who used it as a venue for music performances and training workshops.

When the building was handed back in 2023, the Duchy was approached by community interest company, BeeArc Project. This is a community initiative which aims to explore the cultural, social and environmental significance of the honeybee and its role in the community. The project will provide a space in Goathland for performances, exhibitions, meetings, workshops and craft activities which will encourage others to get involved in the work of the charity and foster further investigation into the links between honeybees and human health.

Commenting on the letting of this 110-year old reading room to the BeeArc Project, the Duchy of Lancaster’s Senior Estates Surveyor for Yorkshire, Archie Rose, said: “The old Reading Room is ideally situated in the heart of the village. It will help to raise awareness of the BeeArc community project which links the importance of the honeybees to the rest of mankind and will hopefully bring the community together in common cause. We look forward to welcoming them to the Duchy tenant family.”

Goathland is one of five rural estates which makes up the Duchy of Lancaster’s historic Yorkshire Survey. Covering approximately 9,521 acres, it includes a large area of internationally important heather moorland, the majority of which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Duchy’s other estates in Yorkshire include: Cloughton, Marishes, Pickering and Pontefract.