A county ‘of spires and squires’, Northamptonshire has a great many attractive country houses. Many were built from the Elizabethan to the Georgian period, using local materials such as the pale grey Lincolnshire limestone, clay from the banks of the river Ouse, and Collyweston slate for roofs.
There are still a number of large estates in the county, and many houses that have been lived in by one family for generations. This means that the supply of country houses is limited, and farmhouses with land are relatively rare.
Northamptonshire is a county of mild and unspectacular scenery, but the landscape of large fields and woods is ideal for hunting; the Pytchley is one of England’s most famous packs.
The county is as close to London as Berkshire, but considerably less expensive, especially at the top end of the market. Commuting is easily possible, especially from the south of the county, as rail and road links to London are good.
Several areas are favoured by buyers, including the stretch of country between Daventry, Banbury, Brackley and Towcester; the area round Oundle; and the villages on the fringes of large estates. Commuters to London prefer areas with easy access to the mainline stations of Kettering, Milton Keynes and Bedford.
Northampton, Wellingborough, Towcester, Kettering, Corby, Daventry, Brackley.
Train: Euston to Northampton, 1hr; St Pancras to Kettering, 55min.
Car: Northampton is 58 miles from central London, via the M1; Kettering is 72 miles, via the M1 and A43.
Northampton High School (01604 765765). Girls only, age range 3-18, day. www.northamptonhigh.northants.sch.uk
Quinton House, Northampton (01604 752050). Co-educational,age range 3-18, day. www.quintonhouseschool.net
Northamptonshire Grammar School, Pitsford (01604 880306). Boys only, age range 9-18, day.
Maidwell Hall, Northampton (01604 686234). Boys, ages 3-13; girls ages 3-8. Day and boarding. www.maidwellschool.co.uk
Spratton Hall, Northampton (01604 847292). Co-educational, ages 4-13, day.
Oundle School, near Peterborough (01832 273536). Co-educational, age range 11-18, day and boarding. www.oundleschool.co.uk
Wellingborough School (01933 222427). Co-educational, age range 4-18, day and boarding. www.wellingboroughschool.org
Golf courses: Cold Ashby, Northampton (01604 740548); Northamptonshire County, Church Brampton (01604 842170); Oundle (01832 723267); Kettering (01536 511104); Staverton Park, Daventry (01327 302000).
Hunts: the Pytchley, the Woodland Pytchley and the Grafton.