Words Nigel Lewis
New research shows the village is back in fashion as more of us turn our backs on the grit of urban survival. Mention villages to most Londoners and they may assume you’re talking about one of the capital’s urban ersatz. But according to research from Strutt & Parker, a fifth of the home movers want to live in a real village, away from the city.
Escaping city life and embracing the country is a trend created by both high house prices in urban areas as well as the opportunities presented by home working, not to mention a desire to don wellies and waxed jackets. Other reasons, the research highlights, include lower living costs, a healthier lifestyle, more privacy and being closer to family and friends.
To identify the modern ‘good lifers’ Strutt & Parker categorised those moving to villages into different types. These include ‘the Downtons’ who are wealthy families who escape the city for a prime village house, and ‘Rusticarians’. These are young entrepreneurs who home work from a broadband bungalow or cyber cottage. And finally we have the ‘rural newbies’; families looking for somewhere to raise their children.
Those with a bucolic bent also want, outstanding countryside views (or sea views), walking trails, sporting facilities, cycling or biking trails and equestrian facilities, the research shows. They’re clearly a hard bunch to please. For Strutt & Parker it is simple – a community of between 3,000 and 10,000 houses. But for the vast majority of London families shipping out, close proximity to a train station is going to be essential. Here are three villages that come close pastoral perfection.
This is a popular village with those wanting the country lifestyle in Cambridgeshire but who also need to commute back to the City. It’s an hour and 20 minutes from Liverpool Street to Shelford station, which makes it just about commutable. The village’s treats include pubs, restaurants, banks, cycle shops, a deli, bakery and garden centre.
What can you buy there? Try this five bedroom, high-spec house with a double garage and garden. It’s for sale with Strutt & Parker at £1,495,000
Thruxton is an ancient village close to the A303 on which you’ll drive to Andover train station. From there trains can be caught to London Waterloo which takes an hour and 20 minutes. The village has a green, two pubs, a church, community hall and a school. A garden centre is scheduled to open soon, and there’s a petrol station cum farm shop in Weyhill, the next village along.
What can you buy there? A four bedroom cottage with a huge garden in the centre of Thruxton, opposite the village green. On the market for £575,000, 01722 344058.
This ravishingly beautiful village sits on the River Thames between Oxford and Didcot and is renowned as the home of Herbert Asquith, the prime minister who took Britain in the First World War. The village has a school, a village hall, cricket and football pitches and three pubs including a popular gastro pub. London is just 45 minutes away via Didcot, which is a short drive from the village.
What can you buy there? This plot of land, which is on the market for £325,000, has planning permission for a five bedroom home almost on the water’s edge of the Thames. The Thames bimbles past the wonderful 1.4-acre plot.