The Cotswolds town of Stroud has been voted the best place to live in the country — but what's the appeal? And what sort of properties are on the market there?
Stroud, in Gloucestershire, topped a recent Sunday Times poll of the best places to live in Britain, praising the town’s ‘unique independent spirit’, and painting quite a picture of the place:
‘Families queued at stalls selling doughnuts, the smell of Thai food filled the air and a lone woman strode past carrying a large piece of cardboard bearing the words “stop racism”. In every direction beautiful wooded hills appeared through gaps between buildings, while on the restored canal, a dog in a life jacket floated past on a paddleboard.’
The award will come as no surprise to Country Life readers, who’ve long known of Stroud’s down-to-earth charms — and those are what they are, for this is no chocolate box fantasy Cotswolds spot. The Guardian agreed in its profile a few years ago, rather archly describing it as a ‘welcome corrective to most Cotswolds towns’.
That’s not to say that the place isn’t charming — but its all-round credentials are what convinced the Sunday Times judges: ‘It has all the basics covered in perfect style: it has excellent schools, convenient transport links and easy access to lots of glorious green space. Best of all it has a unique independent spirit that comes to the fore in its impressive local food scene and at the brilliant weekly farmers’ market that brings the town and surrounding countryside together.’
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All fair points — though living in a village outside gives you most of the benefits, with an added slice of Laurie Lee-style bucolic bliss. Our guide on where to live in the Cotswolds has plenty of alternatives which tick those boxes.
But why take our word for it? Instead we thought we’d pick out half a dozen homes for sale in the area, so you can see what you might get within and just outside Stroud.
An immaculate, Grade II-listed family house set in five acres of land, to the north of Stroud.
There are six bedrooms, a separate cottage, barn, meadow and woodland.
And if all that space isn’t enough, two nearby fields are available by separate negotiation.
At first glance on seeing this we thought — aha, proof that a nice family home can be had at sensible money in Stroud. And then we looked at the interiors.
Yes. There’s a lot of work to do. But for whoever takes this one — and from the looks of it, it’s generally cosmetic rather than structural — this will be a great three-bedroom house just north of the town centre, and keenly priced.
If you’re wondering why the main picture of this seven-bedroom townhouse includes an image of a servant, well, so did we, It’s actually a mannequin advertising the Edwardian-themed tea room within.
Yes, this is both a home and a business: a popular tea shop on the ground floor, and bedrooms above (with an HMO in place for letting).
There’s even a car park at the back, and the town centre location is ideal for those who want everything on their doorstep.
Move a little further from the centre of Stroud, and the properties on the market really begin to fit into the classic Cotswolds country house mould — and this is the best example we could find right now.
Nor is this ‘just’ a house: it’s a 103-acre estate with pasture, arable land and woodland, views over the famed Painswick Valley, and planning permission to convert the former mill house.
It’s presently run as a B&B with six letting rooms in addition to the owners’ accommodation — the potential here is huge.
Where in the Cotswolds should you move to? The answer will depend on what is more important to you and