The grace of god’s own country


The Yorkshire countryside is like nowhere else on earth, with vast greens space, quaint cottages and fabulous food. Stephen Penn sampled all three at the newly renovated Yorke Arms

A delicious ­five-star meal and a sumptuous ­five-star stay are often crafted in a similar fashion, especially when the key ingredients of passion, style and love come into play. This indulgent combination is more than evident in the sleepy Yorkshire village of Ramsgill, home to the historic Yorke Arms run by Chef Frances Atkins – one of the ­first women in the UK to be awarded a Michelin star.

After more than two decades at the helm of this esteemed eatery, Frances and her husband Bill made the bold decision to hang up their hats and plan for retirement last year.

In a twist of fate, however, Yorkshire born-and-bred businessman Jonathan Turner decided to take on the ivyladen building in the Nidderdale Valley and give it a new lease of life. His investment came with one condition; that Frances remain at the helm.

“When I became aware that The Yorke Arms was up for sale, I knew I had to buy it,” says Jonathan. “As a Yorkshireman, I couldn’t bear the thought of someone from out of town breezing in and taking it over. I wanted it to remain a destination restaurant, with Frances doing what she does best and the property’s true Yorkshire heritage fully intact.”

Adds Frances: “Jonathan’s deep-rooted love of Yorkshire, his style and panache are infectious. It really struck a chord with me. He has a genuine enthusiasm to create something even more special here and we hit it off straight away.”

The winning combination of Chef Atkins’ talent and Jonathan’s love of Yorkshire has resulted an exciting new chapter for the Yorke Arms, perhaps most evident in the extensive refurbishment undertaken, led by Jonathan’s wife Karen.

Tweed from Abraham Moon, the last remaining vertical woollen mill in Great Britain, and silk from James Hare which started from a cottage in Leeds in 1865, are all part of the characterful new look.

“It was incredibly important for us to keep the Yorke Arms in touch with its heritage roots, using materials sourced from the local landscape and working with local craftsmen and tradespeople,” Karen explains. “The county of Yorkshire has such incredible talent on the door step. We knew instinctively that tapping in to this creative pool would be a rewarding experience.”

The finished result certainly delivers on its goal. Communal spaces are ­filled with charming features including hand-painted murals by Yorkshire-born artist Laura Middleton and selected restored furniture pieces preserved from the original restaurant.

All 18 suites and bedrooms sport individual Yorkshire themes, such as Jowett, designed with memorabilia from the esteemed local car manufacturer and Trigger, featuring creative lamps crafted out of shotguns, marking the importance of the local shooting tradition. Rooms are also decked out with quirky additions, including traditional wireless radios adapted for Bluetooth and quirky antique furniture.

“Every room was planned in detail months ahead to ensure no space felt generic. It had to feel like home for guests,” Karen adds. “Nothing was bought in duplicate. Instead, we sourced items from antique merchants to ­the themes for each individual space. For those items we couldn’t buy - we had them made. It was a lengthy process, but thanks to the hard work of all those involved, we couldn’t be more delighted with the ­finished result.”

Teamed with Frances’ award-winning menu, the renovated restaurant-with-rooms is already causing quite a stir with the nation’s foodies, offering a choice of two dining options: The Yorke Arms Restaurant by Frances Atkins and The Little Dining Room.

Private dining is also an option in the Onion, a ten-seat outdoor venue located centre-stage in the vegetable garden with menus featuring local suppliers and produce harvested from the gardens wholesome range of organic produce.

Prices for a double room, dinner by Frances Atkins and breakfast start from £375.00. To ­find out more visit www.theyorkearms.co.uk, email enquiries@theyorkearms.co.uk‑ or call +44 (0) 1423 755 243.

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