We paid Rishi Sunak's neighbours a visit to find out what the former PM is really like

-Credit: (Image: Yorkshire Live)
-Credit: (Image: Yorkshire Live)

Kirby Sigston isn’t really a village.

It’s more a scattered collection of farms, cottages and manor houses, one of which is the home of a multi-millionaire who was, until Thursday, Prime Minister.

As a place to lick your wounds away from the furore of Westminster, Kirby Sigston is about as good a place as you'll find – if you can afford it. That last property to sell in this village, three miles from Northallerton, fetched £800,000, according to Zoopla.

It’s easy to see what attracts upwardly mobile folks to this village without a discernable centre. It’s pretty, very pretty. Imagine what foreign tourists, who’ve never visited the British countryside, envisage when they think of rural England. They probably conjure images of somewhere that looks like Kirby Sigston.

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The gently undulating fields, the ancient woods, the endless hedgerows and the well-maintained cottages are that image. American tourists, who think we’ll know their mate ‘John from London’, envisage a countryside full of castles. We’ll ignore them… wait a minute.

Kirby Sigston had a castle dating back to 1336, possibly earlier. The home of the de Sigston family was most likely abandoned at the turn of the 16th century, although the moat and central mound remain. It’s on private land, but you can see it from main road and the public footpaths that bound the site.

Kirby Sigston has a church, a very old one. Off Chester Lane, is St Lawrence’s, a grade-I listed church with a 12th century knave and a 13th century chancel. It’s often closed but there’s a sign at the entrance with a number to call if you’d like to see inside.

Kirby Sigston Manor - the home of Rishi Sunak -Credit:Yorkshire Live
Kirby Sigston Manor - the home of Rishi Sunak -Credit:Yorkshire Live

There is also Kirby Sigston Manor, home to one Mr Rishi Sunak. This late-Georgian house is of course, private but you can see its rather impressive lake from the lane which joins St Lawrence’s and Chester Lane. For obvious reasons – a protester allegedly defecated in the lake last month – the property was guarded by police when Yorkshire Live visited on Wednesday.

Kirby Sigston villagers seem to like Rishi even though we spotted a Liberal Democrat placard prominently displayed in his next door neighbour’s garden. Just across the stream that feeds Rishi’s lake is dairy farmer Edgar Chapman. The Chapmans have farmed at Kirby Sigston for generations.

Edgar, who’ll sell you creamy, raw milk straight from his heard of Friesian cows, says: “It’s a very nice, quiet place… All the neighbours are good.”

Speaking of neighbours...

The former PM, who lost his premiership in a landslide Tory defeat on Thursday, moved to Kirby Sigston in 2015 when he was elected MP for the now defunct Richmond constituency. The seat was once the safest Tory seat in Britain.

Rishi made himself popular with his fellow villagers appearing at local events and hosting dinner parties in his garden.

Edgar, 79, says: “We used to see him a lot before he was Prime Minister. She [Rishi’s wife and tech firm heiress Akshata Murty] is lovely.”

Kirby Sigston Manor, the grounds and lake -Credit:Yorkshire Live
Kirby Sigston Manor, the grounds and lake -Credit:Yorkshire Live

“He’s too nice to be a politician,” Edgar adds. Peter Kay (not the comedian) lives virtually opposite the couple whose estimated net worth is greater than that of King Charles III.

Of Kirby Sigston, Peter, who is originally from Bury, Lancashire, says: “Everyone knows each other and looks out for each other.”

And of Rishi he adds: “You couldn’t wish for a better neighbour.” Now he’s no longer PM, Peter, Edgar and their fellow villagers will probably be seeing more of Rishi.

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