Hot Spot: Nantwich, Cheshire

With the Bentley factory nearby, this was always going to be a better class of market town, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

The Queen was not amused when a fire ravaged Nantwich in 1583. The blaze lasted 20 days, after which Elizabeth I splashed out £1,000 from her own coffers and sponsored a public subscription. The Queen's Aid House, built a year later and still standing, records the town's gratitude. The Church of St Mary, Sweetbriar Hall and Churche's Mansion survived the fire. The latter, built in 1577 by Richard Churche, narrowly escaped being dispatched, wattle by wattle, to the US.

The Queen was not amused when a fire ravaged Nantwich in 1583. The blaze lasted 20 days, after which Elizabeth I splashed out £1,000 from her own coffers and sponsored a public subscription. The Queen's Aid House, built a year later and still standing, records the town's gratitude. The Church of St Mary, Sweetbriar Hall and Churche's Mansion survived the fire. The latter, built in 1577 by Richard Churche, narrowly escaped being dispatched, wattle by wattle, to the US.

"Nantwich offers an unusually high variety of property types, with a lot of new build and quirky period homes, from terraces to six-bed luxury homes," says estate agent Anita Bonsall of Beresford Adams. "There is lots of new build and some developers, like Linden, take care that their frontal elevations are in keeping with what is already here."

Bargains exist for the discerning buyer. "The high end has not been affected by the recent slowdown, but the bottom has fallen out of the buy-to-let market, and many investors have sold or are selling," Bonsall comments. "It is a buyer's market, and properties sell provided the vendor is realistic."

Some of the new homes available include blocks of flats in former coaching inns, detached executive houses on individual plots, estates by mass builders and the large Wychwood Park development east of Nantwich.

Long-term prospects remain strong: "Nantwich is a nice market town that has always been upmarket. Our buyers want a better lifestyle or work for local businesses," says Bonsall. "Bentley, the luxury car maker, is located in Crewe and brings a lot of buyers into this area. Many people who work in Crewe live here because Nantwich has excellent state secondary schools. We also get buyers who come here after viewing properties in Chester because we are more realistically priced."

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

The fast train from Crewe to London Euston takes about two hours. Nantwich is eight miles from junction 16 of the M6.

Past and present

Salt is no longer produced commercially, but the Old Biot still supplies brine for the summer-only outdoor swimming pool. Churche's Mansion was a school, restaurant and antiques shop, and contains residential units that come to market periodically. On Holly Holy Day, the Saturday nearest 25 January, Nantwich - the only town in Cheshire to side with Parliament during the Civil War - re-enacts a battle after which the victorious locals celebrated by wearing sprigs of holly in their hair and hats.

Arts calendar

Nantwich hosts a folk and roots music festival, a jazz and blues Festival, and a food and drink festival. Nantwich has its Players, and Crewe has the recently refurbished Grade II-listed Lyceum Theatre, offering drama, ballet, opera, concerts, music, comedy and an annual pantomime.

Prices

On the outskirts of Nantwich, a two-bed, ground-floor flat with communal lawns and "further potential to update and improve" is for sale at £92,500, and another two-bedder with large rear garden and garage is £105,000. A mid-terrace, two-bed cottage with rear garden is £115,000; all at Halifax.

Family homes

Large homes start from £200,000, but the best properties sell for more than half a million. A standard red-brick period semi with bay-fronted windows is £220,000, but an extra £20,000 buys a modern detached house with two receptions and four bedrooms. On corner plots, a house with three receptions, three bedrooms and a conservatory is £375,000, and a larger three-storey house with six bedrooms and partially paved garden is £535,000; all at Halifax.

Shop option

A three-storey building in the town centre has a shop front on the ground floor with three bedrooms upstairs, a conservatory and rear garden; £269,950 at Beresford.

In the country

An L-shaped, detached cottage with two inglenook fireplaces, a conservatory and detached garage in a semi-rural location in Wrenbury is £349,950 at Beresford. Wrenbury has a primary school, doctor's surgery and local train station.

Regency period

Henhull Cottage is a six-bed Regency house with converted four-bed coach house and outbuildings on nearly an acre; £750,000 at Strutt & Parker. Stapeley Bank is a four-bed Edwardian house; £800,000 at Jackson-Stops.

Conversion

The Old Windmill in Burland, two miles outside of Nantwich, comprises a Grade II-listed brick windmill, stables and paddocks on about four acres; £1m at Jackson-Stops.

New

Linden's Mansions Gardens has 49 flats (from £142,500) and townhouses near the town centre (01270 626020). FPDSavills and Countrywide are selling flats and houses in Wychwood Park, between Nantwich and the M6, from £225,000 for a two-bed apartment.

Estate agents

Beresford Adams Countrywide, 01270 626172; FPDSavills, 01625 417450; Halifax, 01270 625208; Jackson-Stops & Staff, 01244 328361; Strutt & Parker, 01244 220500.

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