Country Life has identified the best places to live in Berkshire within easy reach of London for commuters.
Commute: Thatcham (London Paddington, 54 minutes). Drive to station: about 13 minutes. Frequency of trains: 1 per hour (peak). First train in: 6.02am; last train home: 11.30pm. Annual season ticket: £4,228. Annual car-park ticket: £556.50.
The Country Life verdict: This is The Duchess of Cambridge’s stomping ground, so residents are becoming accustomed to the press camping out. Handy for Elstree prep school and concerts at Douai Abbey. It’s attractive countryside-the village lies in an AONB and there’s a rare-breeds farm.
Best address: ‘The Manor House, owned by the Middletons, is the best location in the village, with great views. Their old home, Oak Acre, is a close second,’ says Nick Ashe of Property Vision.
Alternatives: Cold Ash, Woolhampton.
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Commute: Maidenhead (London Paddington, 19 minutes). Frequency of trains: 11 per hour (peak). First train in: 4.55am; last train home: 11.49pm. Annual season ticket: £2,936. Annual car-park ticket: £813.50-£1,234.50.
Tip: Once Crossrail is completed, in 2019, the journey to Liverpool Street will be 46 minutes.
The Country Life verdict: A gourmand’s paradise, Bray is home to two restaurants with three Michelin stars-the Roux brothers’ Waterside Inn and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck-but it also has all the things you might need for everyday living.
Best address: The Fishery’s estate.
Alternatives: Holyport, Littlewick Green, Pinkneys Green, White Waltham.
Commute: Pangbourne (London Paddington, 49 minutes). Drive to station: about 14 minutes. Frequency of trains: 3 per hour (peak). First train in: 5.33am; last train home: 11.33pm. Annual season ticket: £4,228. Annual car-park ticket: £813.50.
Tip: You have to change at Maidenhead for some fast trains, although things will be easier when Crossrail opens at Maidenhead.
The Country Life verdict: This is real shooting, game-cooking country. The village is largely owned by the Iliffe family, who brought bulk selling to the UK Christmas-tree industry in the 1970s. The estate has preserved the picture-book look of the square, which is surrounded by black-and-white 17th-century cottages and Cromwellian red-brick houses. The Royal Oak pub serves good grub and there’s a shop, post office and butcher.
Best address: ‘There is a striking Queen Anne house in the village called Englands Piece, owned by the estate and let to a tenant. You can’t buy it, but letting it is almost as good,’ believes Alex Barton of Strutt & Parker Pangbourne.
Alternatives: Frilsham (home to The Mike Robinson Game & Wild Food Cookery School and the excellent Pot Kiln restaurant), Upper Basildon, Compton, Goring & Streatley (which has its own station).