THE MICHELIN-STAR CHOICE
WILTSHIRE may seem a daunting commute away but choose wisely and your exquisite village home, surrounded by beautiful countryside, can be reached in a little over an hour.
Where is it? Seven miles south-east of Marlborough, in the heart of the North Wessex Downs. The commute: Great Bedwyn has its own railway station and services to Paddington take from 73 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £5,724. Plus points: this is a big, busy village in gorgeous countryside. Marlborough is a smashing local market town to have on the doorstep, with lovely shops and restaurants. And although the train journey isn’t the fastest, having a station within walking distance helps.
“The community is very active with many clubs and societies,” says buying agent Linda Jeffcoat of Stacks Property Search. “There are two village pubs, a post office, and village shop. There is even a Michelin-star restaurant, The Harrow, five minutes up the road in Little Bedwyn.” To add to the appeal, Great Bedwyn Church of England School is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. And the downsides? You’ll need a car to ferry kids to senior schools in Marlborough or Hungerford. There is a shortage of properties on the market, particularly family homes, and when they do come up they sell at a premium. Some homes in the village were hit by flooding in 2012. Property prices: you could pick up a twobedroom terrace cottage for about £350,000, a four-bedroom detached period family house for about £800,000.
CASTLE COMBE THE RAVISHINGLY PRETTY ONE
Where is it? Five miles from Chippenham, and within the southern half of the Cotswolds. The commute: trains from Chippenham to Paddington take from an hour and 14 minutes, and an annual season ticket costs £10,060. Plus points: when the much-delayed electrification of the Great Western Railway reaches Wiltshire, supposedly this year, journey times will be cut to about an hour. Prices are likely to jump as a result. The village has gorgeous houses, a pub, a couple of tea rooms, and is as pretty as they come. And the downsides? High commuting fares. The nearest town, Chippenham, is a bit dreary so head to Bristol or Bath, which are both within 20 miles. There’s no primary school, but one of the nearest is Trinity Primary School, in Acton Turville, rated “good” by Ofsted. Castle Combe is thronged with tourists in summer. Property prices: be warned, they’re high. A two-bedroom cottage would set you back in the region of £500,000. You could pay £1 million for a four-bedroom family house and £3 million for a large manor house with an acre or two.
RAMSBURY FOR VILLAGE PUBS AND RIVER WALKS
Where is it? Another of Marlborough’s satellite villages, Ramsbury is seven miles north-east of the town and again within the North Wessex Downs. The commute: from Hungerford station, six miles away, services to Paddington take from one hour and eight minutes. An annual season ticket costs £5,580. Plus points: Ramsbury is a “stunning village in a very picturesque valley”, says Lucy Winfield, of Private Property Search. There are three village pubs, walks along the River Kennet, and the M4 is handy. Locals include H&M boss Stefan Persson, one of the world’s richest men, who owns a 10,000-acre estate. The village primary is rated “outstanding” and Marlborough’s has excellent secondaries. And the downsides? Fairly punchy property prices, particularly for pretty period houses. Property prices: a two-bedroom period cottage is about £250,000, with a four-bedroom period house from £750,000 to £900,000.
£895,000: a four-bedroom house at Forest Hill, Great Bedwyn. Carter Jonas (01672 647007)
£650,000: a four-bedroom detached cottage in Castle Combe. Call Hamptons (01225 686084)