On the move? Somerset property hotspots
I had a conversation about house prices with Muddy Somerset’s editor Sue the other day and when she told me what I could get down her way for what I paid for my modest house here it made me want to weep.
I’m not upping sticks any time soon, there are heaps of reasons I’d rather stay put in Sussex, but if it occurred to me with the number of people self-employed or working from home booming there are many people who could live pretty much wherever they like. In fact there are PRs I’ve known for years and have only ever met in London who I’ve been surprised to find actually live in the West Country and hit the capital for meetings and events a few times a year.
So, if you don’t have a Sussex-based job or a commute into London and you’re looking around (or you do and you still hanker after re-locating) feast your eyes on this feature I’ve pinched from Muddy Somerset on the trendy property hot spots in her county. It’ll even tell you the best pubs…!
No longer the county that people just whizz through to get to Devon or Cornwall – or retire to – Somerset, with its stunning countryside, quirky towns, good schools and fab properties has become a dez-rez destination. The Sunday Times recently declared Frome to be one of the best places to live in the whole country and Bruton’s moniker is the ‘Notting Hill of the South West’. Sue Macey of Lodestone Property, reveals five of the county’s property hotspots.
ALREADY ARRIVED – BRUTON
Why here? One main drag with lanes above and below, a scattering of shops plus international contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth. A picturesque 16th century dovecote creates a bucolic backdrop. You might bump into Mariella Frostrup, Sir Cameron Macintosh, Bill Amberg, Sam Taylor-Wood…the list goes on.
Get me outta here: Limited direct trains to London Paddington (so not a daily commute) but more will be running next year.
Dosh level: Old 3-bed cottage needing work £250k; a large Georgian house to turn into a boutique hotel £1.25m. It’s not all period charm: building starts this year on the state-of-the-art Cubis development, 3 and 4-bed houses (off-plan £315k– £675k).
Out of town: Batcombe, Pitcombe, Hadspen, Shepton Montague, Upton Noble villages.
ON THE MAP – FROME
Why here? Arty foodie melting pot – designer-makers, galleries, cafés, pubs, an indie cinema, theatres – with the cobbled artisan conservation area Catherine Hill at its heart. Renowned independent market on the first Sunday of every month. Famous folk in the locale: Kevin McCloud, Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta – and Nicholas Cage has been seen around the place.
Get me outta here: Trains to London in just over 2 hours but to Bath in under 40 mins (30 mins by car).
Dosh level: 1-2 bed apartment in converted furniture store £345k; 5-bed Victorian semi £680k.
Out of town: Mells, Batcombe, Great Elm, Whatley, Nunney.
GETTING THERE – CASTLE CARY
Why here? It’s a pretty market town with all the essentials for the good life – bar, a couple of wine shops, deli, indie bookshop, gift shops, galleries, a skincare and beauty shop. You’ll be on the spot when the 17th century Emily Estate’s transformation into super luxurious hotel and spa is complete next year.
Get me outta here: 12 trains a day, straight up to Paddington in 1hr 50; more trains from nearby Templecombe–Waterloo 2hrs.
Dosh level: 2-bed apartment £115k; character 3-bed terrace cottage £250k; 4-bed Victorian semi with part ownership of the field at the bottom of the garden, £720k.
Out of town: Babcary, Alhampton, Ditcheat, Hadspen, Galhampton, North and South Barrow.
UP AND COMING – WINCANTON
Why here? Unpretentious old Georgian town full of old houses waiting to be snapped up and made over. Enjoy the benefits of uber cool Bruton 10 minutes up the road, without the higher price tag. PR supremo and inspiration for AbFab‘s Edina, Lynne Franks has just bought an old pub on the High Street. Terry Pratchett fans may need to be prised away from the Discworld Emporium. Ever heard of Wincanton racecourse?
Get me outta here: A stone’s throw away from the A303, you could be up in the Smoke in 90 mins or surfing on the Cornish coast in about two and a half hours. Train from Gillingham–Waterloo 2 hours or Berry bus it up to Hammersmith in a little bit more.
Schools: state primaries and King Arthur Community School in town, the outstanding state Gillingham School and the Bruton schools within 15 mins; Sherborne schools within 20 mins.
How much dosh? You’ll be ahead of the game here, this is up and coming. A 4-bed new-build house £245k to a large detached Georgian pile £1m.
Out of town: Charlton Musgrove, Shepton Montague.
ONE TO WATCH – SOMERTON
Why here? With its trad market square, lime trees dotted about and pavement cafes, you could almost imagine that you’re en France (there’s even a vineyard up the road). Said to be the ancient capital of Wessex. Good array of independent shops and a weekly market.
Get me outta here: 20 min drive to Castle Cary station (1hr 50m to Paddington); same to Templecombe (Waterloo 2hrs); 30 mins to the M5.
Dosh level? Characterful period 3-bed detached around £500k; Georgian/Victorian 5-bed with three acres of land £1.4m.
Out of town: Kingsdon, Compton Dundon and Charlton Mackrell