WORTH COM­MUT­ING: CAM­BRIDGE

Cam­bridgeshire’s se­cret vil­lages have £277k homes and com­mutes of just an hour. By Ruth Bloom­field

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Front Page -

WHILE Ox­ford­shire has never tried to keep its charms un­der wraps, it’s great col­le­giate ri­val seems con­tent with a lower pro­file, though Cam­bridgeshire’s big skies and long views have their own ap­peal. More im­por­tantly Cam­bridge is bet­ter for Lon­don com­muters with gen­er­ally faster trains to the cap­i­tal. Vil­lages close to Cam­bridge are see­ing prices rise as buy­ers rip­ple out of the city, but the av­er­age home in Cam­bridgeshire still costs just £277,000. In Ox­ford­shire the av­er­age is al­most £354,000.

HADDENHAM: THE VALUE OP­TION

Where is it? 15 miles north of Cam­bridge. The com­mute: the near­est sta­tion is Ely seven miles away, with trains to King’s Cross in just over an hour and an an­nual sea­son ticket from £5,926. From May, a new sta­tion at Ch­ester­ton, north of Cam­bridge and 13 miles from the vil­lage, will open giv­ing fast ser­vices to King’s Cross and Liver­pool Street in about an hour. Plus points: there’s a shop, two pubs, a post of­fice, and a com­mu­nity cen­tre. Robert Arken­stall Pri­mary School is rated “good” by Of­sted. Prop­erty prices: about £200,000 for a twobed­room cot­tage, £260,000-£275,000 for a three­bed­room semi and £350,000 buys a four-bed­room house. A full-scale coun­try house, with a cou­ple of pad­docks, would cost about £650,000. And the down­sides? Se­nior school­child­ren will need to get to Ely. Ely Col­lege has been in spe­cial mea­sures, although Witch­ford Vil­lage Col­lege and So­ham Vil­lage Col­lege both have “good” Of­sted re­ports and of course Cam­bridge has some of the best in­de­pen­dent schools in Bri­tain.

GRANTCHESTER: TOP DOG

Where is it? Two and a half miles south-west of Cam­bridge, and the right side of the city for the sta­tion. Nov­el­ist Jef­frey Archer’s a lo­cal. The com­mute: trains from Cam­bridge to King’s Cross take from 53 min­utes. Di­rect Liver­pool Street trains take just over an hour. An an­nual sea­son ticket costs from £5,100. Plus points: one of the most de­sir­able vil­lages in Cam­bridgeshire, Grantchester has been home to the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of No­bel Prize win­ners and the Ed­war­dian poet, Ru­pert Brooke. Sur­rounded by lovely Grantchester Mead­ows and run­ning along­side the River Cam, it has three great pubs, pretty tea­rooms and is still within 10 min­utes of Cam­bridge cen­tre. Prop­erty prices: a mod­est two-bed­room cot­tage could be £400,000, with a four-bed­room semi at 700,000. One of Grantchester’s gor­geous Ge­or­gian manor houses would cost up to £3 mil­lion. And the down­sides? Hous­ing stock is in very short sup­ply and there’s no vil­lage school. Fawcett Pri­mary in ad­ja­cent Trump­ing­ton gets a “good” Of­sted re­port. In sum­mer Grantchester is swamped with tourists.

THE EVERSDENS: BUSY, DINKY TWINS

Where is it? Great Evers­den and Lit­tle Evers­den vil­lages are six miles south-west of Cam­bridge. The com­mute: avoid the scrum at Cam­bridge sta­tion. Head to Shep­reth, three miles away, for trains to King’s Cross from 54 min­utes. An an­nual sea­son ticket costs from £4,940. Plus points: Ste­wart Chipchase, as­so­ci­ate di­rec­tor of Sav­ills, says these dinky neigh­bours are ar­che­typal English vil­lages with a strong com­mu­nity. “They’re close enough to Cam­bridge to en­joy the city while be­ing within straight­for­ward reach of Lon­don.” There are reg­u­lar film nights at the vil­lage hall, a free vil­lage mag­a­zine is pro­duced by res­i­dents and there’s a ten­nis club, a book club, and two restau­rants — La Per­gola at The Wheat­sheaf pub, and Cam Spice, both of which go down well with lo­cals. Prop­erty prices: homes range from pe­riod cot­tages to large, de­tached mod­ern houses and culsde-sac of post-war semis. Ex­pect to pay £340,000 to £440,000 for a three-bed­room cot­tage or a semi, £625,000 to £650,000 for a four- or five-bed­room cot­tage with large gar­den, and more than £1.5 mil­lion for a manor house in a few acres. And the down­sides? You will drive ev­ery­where as there is no lo­cal post of­fice or school. The clos­est pri­maries in­clude Hasling­field En­dowed Pri­mary School and Bar­ton Church of Eng­land (VA) Pri­mary School, both rated “good” by Of­sted.

“And is there honey still for tea?”: left, idyl­lic Grantchester on the River Cam, home to war poet Ru­pert Brooke who wrote The Old Vicarage, Grantchester in 1912

£675,000: a four-bed­room listed cot­tage in Lit­tle Evers­den, right. Through Carter Jonas (01223 787123)

£785,000: a six-bed­room pe­riod house set in two acres, with out­build­ings, at Hill­row, Haddenham. Call Strutt & Parker (01223 787117)

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