Hot Spot: Warwick

With its attractive, half-timbered buildings, castle and highly reputable schools, Warwick can still command good prices, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

Twenty-eight years after London's Great Fire, Warwick got into the conflagration act with its own mighty blaze of 1694. Many timber-framed houses quickly became history. A notable survivor, the Lord Leycester Hospital, the earlier parts of which were built in the 14th century, provides a glimpse of what was lost.

Twenty-eight years after London's Great Fire, Warwick got into the conflagration act with its own mighty blaze of 1694. Many timber-framed houses quickly became history. A notable survivor, the Lord Leycester Hospital, the earlier parts of which were built in the 14th century, provides a glimpse of what was lost.

But quite a few wooden structures remained intact, as did the castle, whose original timber frames were, luckily, replaced with stone a century after it was built by William the Conqueror. The castle, now owned by the Tussauds Group, runs a year-round entertainment program of concerts, displays and events for locals and tourists alike.

"We are fortunate being in the heart of Britain, with a motorway network and easy access to all four corners of the country," says an estate agent, Paul Twyneham. "People from the South-East who are not necessarily governed by where they live move here. Many work from home, in information technology primarily, and in insurance and other fields. Most of our buyers are on a company relocation or looking for a better quality of life. Property types include Georgian, Victorian and newer homes built in the 1960s and onwards. You can walk to local restaurants, and it is quiet at night, even weekends. There is no rowdiness."

With its attractive housing stock and good schools and shops, property demand is consistently strong. Stephen Wolfenden, the regional manager of Halifax Estate Agents, notes that "while the market as a whole has slowed, especially for properties in the £300,000 and above price range, Warwick continues to deliver higher sales activity than other towns in this area. Myton Road, in particular, remains popular with families as it falls into the catchment area of the highly regarded Myton School."

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

A train service operates between Warwick and London Marylebone, and Leamington Spa and London Paddington. The town straddles junctions 13, 14 and 15 of the M40, and the A46 dual-carriageway into Coventry.

Architectural stardom

Founded in 1571 by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leycester, as a retirement home for soldiers, Lord Leycester Hospital incorporates a guildhall, chapel and great hall. It has appeared in television versions of Pride and Prejudice, Tom Jones and Moll Flanders. Also photogenic are the Market Hall and the Collegiate Church of St Mary.

Attractions

In addition to its castle and racecourse, the town boasts several military museums (Queen's Own Hussars, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Warwickshire Yeomanry). Hill Close Gardens is in Warwick, and Jephson Garden is in Leamington Spa.

Smart

Well-regarded state, private and grammar schools in the area include Warwick Preparatory, Warwick School, Kingsley School for Girls, Arnold Lodge Preparatory in Leamington Spa, and the co-ed Stratford Grammar in Stratford upon Avon.

Prices

Less than £100,000 buys a small property - a studio flat with allocated parking is £85,000 at Hawkesford - or a retirement place.

Compare and contrast

Twyneham is selling two, two-bed flats in Grade-II listed buildings. One is in a half-timbered structure with parking inside a gated courtyard, £235,000, and the other is a top-floor, sloped-ceilings affair, £275,000. Much cheaper, however, is a three-bed, three-storey, freehold townhouse with period features and patio garden, £149,950.

Other town houses

A two-bed townhouse with study, integral garage and communal gardens, £279,950 at Hawkesford. A Grade-II listed, five-bed, two-reception house with walled patio garden, £595,000 at Twyneham. A four-bed Queen Anne house with freehold garage in nearby block is c.£625,000 at Knight Frank.

Perfectly formed

A Grade-II listed, two-bed, half-timbered cottage near the station, £169,950 at Hawkesford. Thatched and detached, a four-bed 1970s house has double garage, £650,000, in Twyneham. Tall Trees is a six-bed house on a large plot with a conservatory, double garage and annexe, near Warwick School and Myton School, c.£825,000 at Hawkesford and Knight Frank. The Butts is a four-bed house with a modern extension, c.£565,000 at Knight Frank.

Retirement

In a purpose-built McCarthy & Stone retirement block, Twyneham is selling a one-bed, first-floor flat, £112,950, and Hawkesford is selling its one-bed neighbour, £115,000. Hawkesford is also selling a two-bed ground-floor flat, £137,700, and a double-fronted bungalow with fourth loft bedroom and large garden, £289,950.

New

Bryant Homes, which has built several developments near Warwick racecourse, is selling four-bed detached houses from £280,000 and two-bed flats, from £165,000.

Estate agents

Halifax, 01926 490661; Hawkesford, 01926 403308; Knight Frank, 01789 297735; Twyneham, 01926 493311.

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