Hot Spot: Kintbury, Berks

With more pubs than you can shake your morris dancing stick at, city slickers are chasing properties in this rural idyll, says Robert Liebman
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No rest for bonus babies. "Even though bonus money doesn't actually arrive until March, we started getting calls from people based in the City last month," confirms Hungerford-based Nick van Zeller, of Knight Frank.

No rest for bonus babies. "Even though bonus money doesn't actually arrive until March, we started getting calls from people based in the City last month," confirms Hungerford-based Nick van Zeller, of Knight Frank.

Bonus money gravitates toward large rustic homes in select counties. Kintbury, and a small cluster of villages between Hungerford and Newbury, are just what the banker ordered.

"Kintbury has the lot," enthuses Tim Skuse, of Hamptons. "It has a pretty village centre with a shop, a bakery and even a fishmonger, along with three public houses, including the winner of The Good Pub Guide's award for Best Food Pub in Berkshire."

Rory Norman, of Lane Fox, adds that "there is a strong demand at this level of the market from City buyers attracted by the one-hour commute to Paddington from Kintbury rail station.

Houses with their own land on the edge of the village can fetch anything upwards of £1m. Very good two-bed flats sell for around £250,000 in the converted Kintbury Mill." But small flats and cottages can sell for less than £200,000.

Gabby Walker, of Stacks Search & Acquisition, (01264 731214) notes that "for people wanting to move out of London, a real commuting area lies between Northampton, Hungerford and Andover.

A major reason for its popularity are the two train options, the Newbury line into Paddington, and the Basingstoke line into Waterloo. But there are not enough of the large houses with swimming pool, paddock and tennis court that City types want. They may have to compromise and not get all that they want.

Large Berkshire estates can be very large indeed. Hungerford Park boasted 270 acres with planning permission for a 15,000sq ft manor house. Strutt & Parker sold it last year for about £4.5m.

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Kintbury has its own station, with services to Newbury, Reading and London Paddington. The fast train from Newbury to Paddington is about 50 minutes, the same journey time by road on the M4. The A34 provides good access north to Oxford and to the south coast; Southampton is about 35 minutes away.

Attractions

Horse-drawn barge trips on the Kennet and Avon Canal start from Kintbury. Newbury has a theatre and there are a number of festivals in the town, including a music extravaganza in the spring and an agricultural show in summer.

Kintbury Morris

The Kintbury May Maids Morris, recently shortened to Kintbury Morris, favours "dance styles from the Cotswolds". The group''s founder, Penny Brookman, says: "Maypole dancing is a living tradition, and our village still has May Day festivities. The group was formed 21 years ago when I was teaching maypole dancing to local mums." New members are welcome and practice sessions take place in Kintbury.

Prices

The bottom rung contains a two-bed, no-garden, cottage, £169,950, and a modern, three-bed, end terrace, £175,000, at Nye Harris. A 1,115 sq ft, three-bed semi needing modernisation, with dining room and workshop is £185,000, whereas a 1,590 sq ft, four-bed detached with large gardens is £490,000 at Jones Robinson. A two-bed terrace, £235,000, and a four-bed detached house, £299,950, Marc Allen.

Changed use

Formerly Kintbury stores and converted 26 years ago, the 2,678 sq ft Aberdare House has four bedrooms, exposed timbers, a cellar, an enclosed garden, a greenhouse and a double garage; c.£575,000. Agents are Knight Frank and Dreweatt Neate.

Listed

White Lodge is a Grade II-listed, five-bed house with walled garden, and permission for extensions for a conservatory, kitchen and bedroom (for a total of 3,237 internal sq ft); c.£625,000, from Strutt & Parker.

Not listed

Dating approximately from the mid-19th century, Winding Wood Cottage was extended about a decade ago and has five bedrooms (one with ensuite bathroom). The kitchen has a Rayburn cooker; there is a double garage and an attic and it occupies 3,014 sq ft on a nearly one-acre plot; £750,000, from Hamptons.

New

Two new, five-bed, houses with integral double-garage, are available on the edge of Kintbury; c. £650,000 from Burroughs.

Inkpen

With its chocolate-box, part-thatched roof, Holly Cottage has two bedrooms, a garden room, 1,226 sq ft, and attached garage, for c.£350,000, Lane Fox. Built in 1996, the four-bed detached Middlewich House has a detached double garage, c.£439,950, from Dreweatt Neate. Six miles from Kintbury, Inkpen has several pubs and a primary school.

Estate agents

Burroughs, 01488 682349; Dreweatt Neate, 01635 263000; Hamptons, 01635 582111; Jones Robinson, 01635 35010; Knight Frank, 01488 682726; Lane Fox, 01488 686001; Marc Allen, 01488 685353; Nye Harris, 01488 683334; Strutt & Parker, 01635 521707.

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