Villages close to London where you can walk to a station, a local shop and a good pub. Basically the perfect places to live.
In this article we have identified some of the best villages to live in near London – pretty rural places with characer, where you can walk to the train station, and which have a local shop and a good pub – in other words, perfect villages.
With direct trains taking nearly two faint hours to London, a daily commute from this Wiltshire village is not for the -hearted. Nevertheless, a few faithful are known to gather on the platform for the 5.46am service to Waterloo, so it is possible—just about.
Tisbury is the largest village in the Nadder valley and, for Paul Cadge at Myddleton & Major in Salisbury, it’s a favourite. ‘You don’t need to leave the village for anything: there’s an excellent delicatessen, a butcher, an electrical shop, a bookshop, a vet and a garage plus a wine shop, the revamped leisure centre and an award-winning florist, Ted Martin Flowers.’
Fiona Pengelly of Strutt & Parker in Salisbury adds: ‘There is a certain feel of “faded gentry” as you stand in the deli and a local resident pops in to collect their order of imported cheese, serrano ham and two loaves of freshly baked bread. In a few weeks’ time, there will be a newly opened fishmonger.’
Nearby, Pythouse Kitchen Garden Restaurant and Shop is regularly cited as ‘Wiltshire’s answer to Daylesford’ and the Beckford Arms in Fonthill Gifford regularly appears on lists of the best gastropubs in the country.
London commute 1hr 55min to Waterloo
For sale: £1.25 million
Cantlefield House (above) stands within walking distance of the high street and station. It was completed in 2011 and has five bedrooms (with a lift) and pretty, landscaped gardens. Savills (01722 426820)
Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire
Although it lies on the edge of Cambridge, Sarah Broughton of Prime Purchase says it has a proper village feel, with lots of community spirit, yet with good access to the city. ‘There’s a mix of property, new and old, including some striking houses of substantial size,’ adds Ed Meyer of Savills Cambridge.
The village has a library, two pubs, a monthly farmer’s market, a bakery, a deli and the ‘excellent’ Barker Brothers, a family butcher that first opened in 1843. ‘Plus the Gog Magog Farmshop is just over the hill,’ comments Ed.
London commute Approximately 1hr 25min from Shelford to Liverpool Street
This is one of Cambridgeshire’s most ‘well served’ villages, according to Richard Freshwater of Cheffins. ‘In the summer, it’s a hive of activity, with the villagers all turning out to support their cricket, tennis and football clubs or to walk the 20 minutes to Duxford Airfield, where you can watch the Red Arrows perform.’
The Tickell Arms is one of the best-known gastropubs in the county, but there are also two other pubs, a village shop, a post office and pelnty of clubs and societies. The village green, called The Lawn, has annual visits from the circus.
London commute Approximately 1hr 15min to Liverpool Street
With a picture-perfect village cricket ground, a post office, an award-winning farm shop and a monthly farmer’s market, Milford is one of the nicest (large) villages in the county on the mainline service to Waterloo, says James Grillo of Henry Adams. Secretts, the farm shop, has a butcher and a garden centre attached and has been in the family for three generations.
The bakery, Butter & Cream Cakes, is under the same ownership as Eliza’s Tea Room near the farm shop. The village has two pubs, The Refectory (a converted cattle barn) and The White Lion.
London commute Just under an hour to Waterloo
Sandwiched between the M3 and the London to Portsmouth line just to the south of Winchester, this little village punches above its weight with a Viennese-style pâtisserie, Sacher & Strudel, which, as well as serving a range of cakes, also acts as a coffee shop. The pub, the Bridge, sits right on the banks of the River Itchen and is extremely popular.
The local primary school, Compton All Saints Church of England School, is rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted, there’s an active village calendar and also a tennis club shared with the neighbouring parish.
London commute Approximately 1hr 15min to Waterloo
King’s Sutton, Northamptonshire
One of the larger villages in the Banbury area, King’s Sutton is one of only two villages in the county with a railway station. There’s a good shop and post office, two pubs and enough clubs and societies to exhaust even the most energetic of residents. Amanda Butler of Hamptons International in Banbury says the village attracts a range of buyers because of its self-sufficiency and access to Oxford and Birmingham, adding: ‘There’s the full range of houses from £200,000 through to £2 million.’
London commute Approximately 1hr to Marylebone; up to 2hr to Paddington
Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire
The final stop on the line, Great Bedwyn is a busy village on the River Dun and stands in an AONB between the market towns of Hungerford and Marlborough. It has been nominated by both Charlie Wells of Prime Purchase and Bobby Hall of the Buying Solution as a good option for the area (although most commuters would probably drive to Pewsey for faster connections).
Sadly, the Bedwyn Bakery closed last year, but there are two village pubs—the Three Tuns and The CrossKeys—a post office and a village shop.
London commute Approximately 1hr 25min to Paddington
On the same line as Bedwyn, but closer to London, Kintbury lies between Hungerford and Newbury. ‘Downtown’ Kintbury was ‘a little dodgy’ for a while, says one local, but things are looking up. The village butchers are Mildenhall & Bullock which sells good-quality meat, game and poultry as well as having a deli counter with honey, eggs, cheese and other items.
There’s also the Dundas Arms pub, a cake shop, a pop-up baker and a village shop.
London commute Approximately 1hr 15min to Paddington (but delays are frequent, especially when lorries misjudge the height of the railway bridge in Hungerford)
In the original version of this article, published in Country Life on March 9, we mistakenly said that the former butchers, Bastable Brothers, was still in operation. It closed over a year ago and Mildenhall & Bullock are now the village butchers.
Between the house and a cottage, there are six bedrooms in total. Set in 4.3 acres, made up of gardens, woodland and paddocks, there is also a barn, an outbuilding and a garden store. Carter Jonas (01635 922492)
The winner of Country Life’s England’s Favourite Village contest back in 2004, Kingham, which lies in the almost mythical (by estate-agent standards, anyway) ‘Daylesford Triangle’, still reigns supreme in many eyes as the perfect Cotswold village.
Ginny Gilmore of Prime Purchase and Jonathan Bramwell of The Buying Solution are among the many who believe it has real standout value. The Kingham Plough is a very civilized ‘dining pub’, which has won many awards, and the Wild Rabbit, part of Carole Bamford’s Daylesford, is recommended for ‘coffee, lunch, dinner and beds’ by Helen Whitfield of Savills (its renovation cost a reputed £1.4 million).
The primary school was give an ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted in 2010 and there is a clutch of good private schools nearby. The Village Stores caters for everyday needs (including dry cleaning) and has a post office counter and Daylesford caters for others.
There are harvest suppers, duck races and festivals, including the annual Big Feastival, hosted by Alex James on his farm (August 26 to 28) and the annual Kingham Run.
‘When we do have something for sale in Kingham, it flies off the shelf— we have people on our books asking to be in—and only in—Kingham,’ says Luke Morgan of Strutt & Parker.
London commute Approximately 1hr 30min to Paddington
Described by Chris Nicklin from Strutt & Parker in Odiham as ‘a commuter’s paradise: a vibrant village that makes you feel a million miles from city life’, this village, which was once home to Lord Baden Powell, seems to have it all. There’s a village shop/post office, pubs, a busy village hall and scout hall and a primary school that’s ‘one of the most sought after in Hampshire,’ according to Chris. ‘The Bentley village fête is legendary and the annual bonfire is well known,’ he adds. London commute 1hr to Waterloo
This pretty village is ‘hugely sought-after, particularly for buyers moving out of London,’ says Rebecca How of Savills. Positioned in the High Weald AONB, the village has picturesque properties and is home to Penshurst Place, where the Penshurst Park cricket club plays.
The Forge Stores has a post-office counter, The Porcupine Pantry is the Penshurst Place tea room, Penshurst Primary School is highly regarded and there are several good pubs, including the Leicester Arms, the Spotted Dog and the Bottle House.
London commute This is the small snag: Penshurst station lies three miles north of the village, but you can be at Victoria in approximately 1hr
Set in an AONB in the North Downs, Wye has a good clutch of interesting shops, including a butcher, a baker and a village store, plus a farmer’s market twice a month and good pubs, such as the New Flying Horse and the riverside Tickled Trout.
‘It has a wonderful selection of property, from medieval cottages to oast houses and more modern stock, too,’ adds Martin Jordan from the Humberts Canterbury office. On the radar for London buyers, ‘a good house that comes up in Wye will sell very quickly,’ says Joe Charlton of Strutt & Parker in Canterbury. London commute Direct trains to Cannon Street or Charing Cross take 1hr 33min (or travel one stop to Ashford International for fast services)
East Horsley, Surrey
Horsley station is in the heart of East Horsley, which attracts commuting professionals and has been described as a ‘rich man’s playground’ on account of the golf, riding and sports club. ‘It’s ideal for families due to the selection of great private schools,’ says Adam Burlison of Knight Frank in Cobham.
It’s home to Conisbee’s butcher shop, which been family owned for more than 250 years, and there’s a bakery, a Budgens, a library, a doctor’s surgery and a coffee shop that’s ‘always humming’, according to one local resident. London commute Approximately 1hr to Waterloo
Mulberry House is a five-bedroom property in neighbouring West Horsley. It was built by Martin Grant Homes and comes packed with big-name brand appliances. Knight Frank (01932 807431)
The village has been the backdrop for several TV series, including Jeeves and Wooster and Midsomer Murders. ‘It’s a pretty village with a duck pond and a church and it’s the home of the Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital,’ says James Shaw of Prime Purchase. Cottage Bakery is run by a former head baker at Harrods and the Haddenham Cafe is part of the Bradmoor Farm complex, which has a butcher’s and a farm shop. There’s an espresso bar and a trio of pubs: The King’s Head, The Rose & Thistle and The Rising Sun.
London commute 50min to Paddington
With a village shop and post office, a primary school and a pub, Foxton just needs a good coffee shop, after it closed last year, to complete the billing. ‘There’s a huge range of community events and clubs,’ says Richard Hatch of Carter Jonas Cambridge. ‘There’s a choir and a cricket team as well as a busy calendar in the village hall and sports hall.’
London commute Approximately 1hr 15min to King’s Cross
Although architecturally not award-winning, this large Wiltshire village, which lies to the south of Marlborough, comes up trumps in terms of amenities. ‘The reason is because it serves all the nearby hamlets,’ says Gill Sharpe of Carter Jonas. It has a butcher, a baker, a post office, a large supermarket and a good florist (China Rose) plus other independent shops lining its small high street. The village also hosts a monthly farmer’s market and the annual Pewsey Carnival. ‘It’s a popular location as house prices are lower than nearby Marlborough and it’s a great alternative for those seeking a village rather than town life,’ adds Gill.
London commute 1hr 15min to Paddington
Not in the village, but close to the station, Sharcott Barracks has six bedrooms, an annexe, a tennis court and a pool. Carter Jonas (01672 514916)
Probably best known for being the home of the late diarist and Conservative MP Alan Clark, Saltwood is situated approximately a mile inland from the coastal market town of Hythe on the edge of Romney Marsh.
According to Helen Brohier of Colebrook Sturrock, it’s ‘a thriving village centred on a village green, where there’s a popular pub and village restaurant, Saltwood on the Green.’ There’s a village store, a popular primary school and a cricket club. London commute 1hr 40min from Sandling station to Cannon Street, Charing Cross or St Pancras
The Coach House in Saltwood Stands in 1.75 acres of gardens and grounds. It’s modern with six bedrooms, a heated pool, a tennis court and a sauna. Colebrook Sturrock (01303 260666)
You name the club, they do it in this big village, but as well as photography, ballet, rugby and tae kwondo, Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans also holds his annual music and car festival (CarFest) here.
‘It’s a proper community,’ enthuses one resident. There’s a greengrocer, a post office, the Overton Gallery, the cafe/ deli Purple Olive, the Test Valley Sporting Guns shop, the Village Bakery, three pubs and Turner’s Butchers. London commute Approximately 1hr to Waterloo
When it’s seen from either the railwaystation car park or the Cirencester/ Malmesbury road, it’s easy to dismiss Kemble as a non-event, however, the main part of the village lies on the other side of the main road, where there’s a pretty church and a village hall. Locals say that it’s inhabited, meaning not full of weekenders. Village amenities include ‘a brilliant village shop’ and a good village primary school. London commute 1hr 20min to Paddington.