Dear Reader: Knaresborough's rich history + houses damn houses!

Part of the gorgeous Waterside at Knaresborough.
Part of the gorgeous Waterside at Knaresborough.

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

I was lucky enough to be invited in for a cup of tea at a house older than the United States of America last week.

The historic property was located at the Waterside in Knaresborough, one of my favourite spots locally, and many other people’s, too.

Sitting in this historic property just yards away from the River Nidd with its faintly by-the-seaside feel, I realised I didn’t really know this person and she didn’t really know me.

Yet, there I was, sipping tea in her kitchen in the summer light in what appeared to me a perfectly idyllic setting.

It’s one of the privileges of journalism to be given access to places you have no right being, though it does come with its responsibilties, too.

Much of the house is said to date back to the 13th century and King John at the time of the Magna Carta.

What conversations its ornately carved dark wooden panels made of oak must have soaked up over the centuries.

The building had started its life as one of the king’s royal hunting lodges at a time when deer ran nearby.

Nowadays what concerns members of the recently-formed Waterside Residents Association are cars, cyclists and tourists.

These more modern creatures aren’t exactly running wild but…

Since man and woman first emerged from the cave and felt a pressing need to build their own shelter I’m not sure there’s ever been a new housing development that’s been popular with anyone living anywhere near its immediate vicinity.

And I’m no more immune to this particular human foible than anyone else.

As I drove past Jennyfield in Harrogate along Skipton Road on the A59 towards Birstwith on Monday afternoon to interview the organisers of the village’s popular annual show I spotted an outgrowth of new housing on what was, until very recently, green fields.

It had sprung up just about on the spot where Tesco had dreamed for more than 10 years of constructing a giant new superstore.

My first reaction was surprise but, even before I’d changed gear, that had quickly turned to anger.

Such is the mounting tide of imminent development across the district, whichever way you choose to drive out of Harrogate these days whether north, south, east or west, the chances are you will travel past somewhere that’s already earmarked by developers for new housing.

The obvious danger is that one village after another will soon be sucked into Harrogate’s orbit until the boundaries are rubbed out completely and the town becomes a small city.

No one actually wants this to happen. No one, it seems, is thinking about the need for more schools or roads or infrastructure, never mind the affect on the quality of life.

But in the complex tangle that is planning these days, that is apparently what is going to happen.