Until recently, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, with its antique shops and tearooms, was the lesser cousin of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds outpost for media, celebrities and politicians. Now, however, buyers from London are struggling to choose between the two, according to James Walker of Savills, with many specifically targeting Tetbury. ‘The countryside around Tetbury is marginally less populated, giving it a greater rural feel, but it actually has far better accessibility.’
Of course, Chipping Norton’s appeal has longer roots. Property owners based in the golden triangle between the town and the pretty villages of Kingham and Charlbury have access to numerous good pubs and the Daylesford Organic farm shop. ‘You can have an excellent meal out at a different pub every night of the week,’ says Tom Hudson of Middleton Advisors. After a day’s hunting with the Heythrop, it’s possible to be in London in an hour and a half by car via the M40.
The train from Charlbury into Paddington takes less than 80 minutes and from Oxford it’s just 50 miles. ‘It’s beautiful countryside, yet you never feel as if you’re cut off,’ explains Harry Gladwin of Knight Frank in Oxford. However, Tetbury, although smaller, has just as much to offer, insists Sam Trounson of Strutt & Parker in nearby Cirencester. ‘It’s much cooler than it used to be and it’s a smarter address. There’s an amazing cheesemonger, a wine bar, a delicatessen and the Highgrove Shop.’
Among the most sought-after villages are Westonbirt, Shipton Moyne, Long Newnton, Cherington and Rodmarton. According to Rupert Sturgis of Knight Frank in Cirencester, the area has less of a London scene than Chipping Norton, but residents prefer it that way. ‘Horses are the biggest pull. There’s hunting with the Duke of Beaufort’s, Badminton and Gatcombe horse trials, polo at Westonbirt and an excellent Pony Club branch.’
Although the journey from Tetbury into London along the M4 takes slightly longer than the drive from Chipping Norton, the commute by train from nearby Kemble station takes 100 minutes and the railway lines are soon to be upgraded to faster tracks. Bristol is within 30 miles. Buyers deliberating between the two areas will find that there’s no significant difference in property values. Instead, schools are usually the deciding factor, according to Mr Gladwin. ‘About 75% of buyers are moving due to a particular school. Chipping Norton has access to the Oxford schools, such as The Dragon, St Edward’s and Radley College, whereas Tetbury is close to Westonbirt, St Mary’s Calne and Beaudesert.’
However, notes Mr Hudson, the provenance of the buyers makes a difference, too. Londoners based around Notting Hill traditionally take the M40 to Chipping Norton, but Tetbury attracts those
who travel from Chelsea and Fulham along the M4. ‘You’ll see more red cords,’ he warns. But Mr Sturgis says this doesn’t indicate that the town is stuck in the past and has clinching proof: ‘We have the better mobile-phone reception.’
With the source of the River Avon within its 18 acres, Worwell Farmhouse, a short walk from Tetbury, Gloucestershire, combines the best of town and country. Built in vernacular style in 2009, it has formal and family living spaces, six bedrooms and an annexe. £1.7m through Strutt & Parker (01285 653101)
Once the home of Ernest Brian Trubshaw, the first British pilot to fly Concorde, in April 1969, Northlands is situated on the outskirts of town. The property has elegant reception rooms and four bedrooms and comes with a detached two-bedroom coach house, garden and parking. Chesterton Humberts (01285 650955)
Near Chipping Norton
Bledington Mill, Bledington
This 18th-century Cotswold mill house is ideally placed between the popular villages of Kingham and Bledington. It has six bedrooms, an annexe, a stable yard, other outbuildings and a magnificent water wheel, all set in 14 acres of gardens, paddocks and grounds that also house a swimming pool and offer scope for fishing. Knight Frank (01865 790077).
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