How We Live Now; Eviction and Homelessness in the North York Moors Upland Estates..


This post was originally intended as an upbeat antidote to some of the previous ones…there’s only so much a reader wants to hear about someone’s stolen bicycle or dead tortoise!… positivity breeds positivity and all that (although I have a feeling that two positives repel or cause huge explosions or something? I didn’t pay much attention in Physics lessons).  I wanted to tell you all about my exciting decision to take a stand at next year’s BCTF in Harrogate and share the journey from here to there … but then I met my neighbour in the supermarket.


Known locally as “Cyanide Sue”* I was nervous when she called me over for a friendly chat by the soap powder, in 14 years she had only ever ignored or sworn at me. But she genuinely seemed friendly and we parted with me offering any help they may need on the farm. However, at the till she dropped the bombshell ” I hear you’re moving” …

Now some of you have been reading Witchmountain for years and maybe some just discovered it but even if we only met here in this virtual space I think you will have seen that my love for this place has been self evident and deeply passionate. This house on the edge of the moor and more importantly the garden I’ve made and the view beyond; over the field to the big oak and across to Arden Moor,  has been my life support for 14 years. The idea that I would leave voluntarily is so unlikely that I laughed it off and assumed it was just a nasty parting shot from someone who had never made me feel welcome at Snilesworth.



Three ignored calls later and the land agent confirmed my fears. I am to be evicted with two months notice and my home given to the son of my suddenly “friendly ” neighbour. My world has fallen apart. I took a jar of homemade jam to the Lodge and spoke to the landowner, Toby Horton , begging the Trustees of the Estate not to make me homeless… like a character in a novel by Catherine Cookson, not much has changed around here in 300 years!

The fog and drizzle seemed appropriate and the situation almost comical… penniless artist pleads with landed gentry offering jam and appealing to a mutual love of this place, this land in all its seasons and hardships. “Unfortunate circumstance”, “beyond our control”, ” the agenda for managing upland estates and the North York Moors National Park… we only want farmers and gamekeepers, not outsiders”….  Perhaps I should hold my tongue for fear of making it worse but from where I sit, looking out through misted windows, it couldn’t be worse. What century do we live in?


Anyway, all that was two days ago and there has still been no official contact from the estate or its agents… not even a courtesy call to check I hadn’t died of  shock. They are well within their legal rights to evict a tenant with only two months notice, and no reason needs to be given apparently ( Under a Section 21 notice) , but morally it seems so wrong when I have always paid my rent and cherished this little piece of heaven; even promoting it and introducing them to Joe Cornish who has taken groups of photographers to the Lodge for weekend workshops.

Meanwhile, before the bombshell, I had been preoccupied with the idea of Home and was drawing imagined places, cottages surrounded by huge flowers or standing alone on a hill. The tower is a symbol from an image my dad made in the year I was born called “The Masterpiece in the Tower” I always found it haunting and strangely prophetic. This morning a protoype mug design arrived in the post and now seems a good point to stop and grind some beans to fill it with coffee…maybe with a dram of Highland Park to take the edge off the day!


So, thank you for reading and much love to you from Witchmountain, while I can still send it, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

If anyone is interested in writing on my behalf I think letters or e-mails could be directed to The Trustees of Snilesworth Estate, c/o John Hoddinott,15/17 High Street, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, YO51 9AW


*Please note I did not coin this nick name, nor do I condone mean and unfriendly behaviour or name calling. I hope this post reflects a true and balanced account of the situation despite my emotional involvement.

*Since writing this my daughter has started a petition. If you would like to sign it we would be eternally grateful. Thank you.



10 responses to “How We Live Now; Eviction and Homelessness in the North York Moors Upland Estates..

  1. I’m very sad to read this; i’vr only recently discovered your blog and your art but it has alway been very evident how much you love where you live and how much it seems to influence and inspire your work. It’s a horrid situation to be put in and you have my deepest sympathy as it must be a real shock and struggle even more so as you appear to have been so wholly left out of the (communication) loop!

    I really hope you manage to succeed in keeping your much loved house! Stay strong and sending positive vibes from a fan! X

  2. Gutted for you! Moving to N. Yorkshire from the dreaded South and loving it, as you do, I can’t imagine being put in the same situation. It’s feudal! Hope you manage to persuade the ‘powers that be’, that you can stay. Keeping everything crossed for you.
    Jacqui xx

  3. oh kim i’m heart broken for you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx there must be some rights you have!! it just seems too awful that they can do that. come and see me at the studio soon and we can have tea and talk fighting talk x x x

  4. Hi Kim,
    I’m so sorry to think of you having to leave Witchmountain…….I hope something happens that can change this around for you.

  5. It saddens me to know that there are people out there with such stony cold hearts 😦 Come to Stokesley, I will buy you tea and cake and try to cheer you up even though we’ve never actually met. Xxx

  6. Deeply saddened to hear this awful news. It is, as already said positively feudal and morally reprehensible. I hope the situation is resolved but if it is not, I wish you every good wish in the world to help you find another safe, beautiful haven. (This time, with more permanent roots and kinder neighbours and land owners). I too have only recently discovered your blog but we have communicated when arranging to meet with your father William, who showed us round his amazing exhibition at MIMA.
    Good luck.

  7. I was so sorry to read this Kim and it all sounds so Dickensian. We can only hope that something good is going to come out of this bad. Witchmountain must live on and I know you have so many supporters out there.

  8. Ho Hum. …Well, whatever may happen, your relationship with the moors, the enjoyment and inspiration that brings can remain, it isn’t tied to a property.
    My sister was evicted from Farndale last year along with quite a few others – the estate turning the homes into holiday cottages, ‘Orrible flaming carry on… They did get some press coverage but on your own it’ll be harder, it’s the bile that these situations create which seems to be the most destructive aspect, it can become all consuming, that feeling of being ‘done over’. I hope, somehow, that the experience turns out constructive, in hindsight.
    I am not certain but there may be a cottage in Bransdale free – you’d need to contact The National Trust agents. Just a thought, if you’re at a loose end and are looking for somewhere out in the sticks.
    From Hob Hole to Witch Mountain, goods luck – and, yes, the in-side-out symmetry there did make me chuckle.

  9. Pingback: Introspection and Indiscretions | WITCHMOUNTAIN

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