Country houses for sale

The best places to live for commuters: Essex

Good trains from Essex into Liverpool Street mean the county has five spots on the Country Life list of the best villages and towns close to London.

Earls Colne

Commute: Marks Tey (London Liverpool Street, 54 minutes). Drive to station: about 17 minutes. Frequency of trains: 4 per hour (peak). First train in: 4.49am; last train home: 12.18pm. Annual season ticket: £4,532. Annual car-park ticket: £1074.70.

The Country Life verdict: One of the largest villages in the Colne Valley, Earls Colne is a good option if you want to be on the Essex/Suffolk borders. ‘It’s an area that bankers and solicitors tend to head to if they’re based in the City,’ explains Jeremy Smallman of Jackson-Stops & Staff.

Best address: Colne Priory, a former Benedictine monastery, is very attractive.

Alternatives: Any of the Colne Valley villages.


Stock

Commute: Billericay (London Liverpool Street, 32 minutes). Drive to station: about 8 minutes. Frequency of trains: 7 per hour (peak). First train in: 4.28am; last train home: 12.50am. Annual season ticket £3,308. Annual car-park ticket: £1257.68

The Country Life verdict: This is serious stockbroker territory. It has a wealth of shops, including a wine shop, and an Italian restaurant. It looks idyllic, with narrow streets, but is very expensive.

Best address: The Old Rectory gets Mark Davies of Strutt & Parker in Chelmsford’s vote.

Alternatives: Fryerning, Margaretting


Terling

Church on the green Terling, Essex

Church on the green Terling, Essex

Commute: Hatfield Peverel (London Liverpool Street, 44 minutes). Drive to station: about 15 minutes. Frequency of trains: 3 per hour (peak). First train in: 5.04am; last train home: 12.18am. Annual season ticket £4,056. Annual car-park ticket: £1108.80.

Tip: Although the Hatfield Peverel service is a slower train than the one from Chelmsford, parking and finding a seat are easier.

The Country Life verdict: A seriously well-kept village, which benefits from being supported by Lord Rayleigh-there’s a shop and post office, cricket ground, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a busy village hall. ‘It’s gorgeous and seemingly lost in time. You half expect to spot a bobby on a bicycle,’ says Jeremy Smallman of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Chelmsford.

Best address: In an ideal world, Terling Place, Lord Rayleigh’s seat.

Alternatives: Hatfield Peverel (avoid the bit of the village that’s dissected by the A12) or Wickham Bishops. For a market town, try Maldon.


Great Waltham

Commute: Chelmsford (London Liverpool Street, 35 minutes). Drive to station: about 12 minutes. Frequency of trains: 10 per hour (peak). First train in: 5.11am; last train home: 12.46am. Annual season ticket: £3,764. Annual car-park ticket: £1269.50.

The Country Life verdict: Easy access to City and Stansted airports. There are a couple of pubs and a shop-Walthumbury Stores (and post office) – which sells local produce. The village hall also has a lively timetable of activities.

Best address: Grade I-listed Langleys is ‘an early-18th-century, red-brick monster of a house’, according to Jeremy Smallman of Jackson Stops & Staff.

Alternatives: Little Waltham, Felsted.

best places to live for commuters essex

Signs by the side of the road outside The Beehive Public House, Great Waltham, Essex.


Saffron Walden

Commute: Audley End (London Liverpool Street, 51 minutes). Drive to station: about 9 minutes. Frequency of trains: 12 per hour (peak). First train in: 5.03am; last train home: 11.28pm. Annual season ticket: £4,300. Annual car-park ticket: £1275.80.

The Country Life verdict: A handsome market town with lots of specialist shops and medieval streets.

Best address Jane Mynott of Bidwells names the Elmdon Bury estate.

Alternative Finchingfield.


Clavering

Commute: Audley End (London Liverpool Street, 51 minutes). Drive to station: about 7 minutes. Frequency of trains: 12 per hour (peak). First train in: 5.03am; last train home: 11.28pm. Annual season ticket: £4,300. Annual car-park ticket: £1275.80.

The Country Life verdict: A well-located village (it’s a short hop to Bishop Stortford and Saffron Walden for more activity) that has a lively community, including the cricket club, which plays on the picture-postcard green fronting a pavilion that boasts seating from Lord’s cricket ground.

Best address: ‘The Old Vicarage,’ says Paddy Pritchard-Gordon of Knight Frank.

Alternatives: Wicken Bonhunt, Arkesden Debden and Widdington.

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