Hot Spot: Wincanton, Somerset

A favourite locale for fans of Terry Pratchett's fiction, this market town enjoys superb transport links to the South-west and London, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

A market town without a market, Wincanton is twinned with a place that doesn't really exist.

A market town without a market, Wincanton is twinned with a place that doesn't really exist.

"Wincanton is unofficially twinned with Ankh-Morpork, a fictional town in the comic fantasy novels of Terry Pratchett," explains Daniel Peacock of Palmer Snell. "We don't have a traditional street market anymore, but we do have a farmers' market, good antique shops and a shop that sells only items connected to Pratchett's fictional world." Two years ago, the novelist joined more than 600 people, many in medieval costume, at the twinning ceremony with an actor portraying the leader of Ankh-Morpork.

The town's property values are buoyed by attractive, rustic countryside and solid transport links. "Wincanton is a good, central location for the South-west, superbly placed for commuting to larger employment centres such as Salisbury, Yeovil and Warminster, and also to London," says Peacock.

"We get many buyers migrating from the South-east, mostly early retirees or people looking for a better quality of life. With the good communications, this location is excellent for people who can work from home, or work a few days at home and part of the week in London."

Peter Lewis of Stacks Property Search & Acquisition (01300 320480) says that "the National Hunt course on the outskirts of the town is deservedly popular and attracts large crowds on race days. There are a multitude of good schools in the area at Sherborne, Bruton and Shaftesbury."

For buyers of country homes, "the Blackmore Vale is low lying and can be very wet, but the ridge that stands to the east with Cucklington, Buckhorn Weston and Kington Magna has some lovely houses with great views over the vale. In this area, buyers should beware of traffic noise from the A303 and, farther west, the naval air station at Yeovilton."


Getting there

Wincanton is between stations to the north at Castle Cary and Bruton, which serve Bristol and Paddington, and a station to the south near Abbas Combe and Templecombe, which has services to London Waterloo. Berry's provides a coach service to Hammersmith, and there are airports at Exeter, Bristol and Bournemouth.


In addition to hosting a full National Hunt programme, the racecourse has a nine-hole pay-and-play golf course and a campsite. The Wincanton Falcons RCFC (Radio Controlled Flight Club) recently purchased a permanent eight-acre site near Templecombe which provides a flying field, dedicated pit area and extensive car parking. Twice a year, Terry Pratchett fans descend on the town to celebrate Discworld Day.


Wincanton has two primary schools (Wincanton Primary and Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC) and one state secondary (King Arthur's Community). Local fee-paying schools include Sherborne School, Sherborne School For Girls, St Antonys Leweston Girls School, Kings Bruton, Bruton School for Girls and Millfield School.


Palmer Snell currently has several homes on its books, ranging from £69,950 for a one-bed flat in an outlying village to £785,000 for a new six-bed executive house. A typical three-bed modern house costs between £139,950 and £159,950 depending on condition.

Bottom rung

A one-bed purpose-built flat near Bruton town centre is £79,950, and a modern two-bed end terrace with garden in Wincanton, £126,500. In Templecombe within walking distance of the train station, a three-bed mid-terrace townhouse on three storeys that "requires some refurbishment" is for sale at £139,950. All through Hambledon.

Family homes

Palmer Snell is selling a detached three-reception, four-bed modern house for £224,950, and a detached period three-bed cottage with dining room, study and enclosed garden for £249,950. A larger Victorian house is £450,000. Hambledon has a Grade II-listed, three-bed townhouse with annexe at £305,000, and a new three-bed bungalow overlooking fields at £289,950.

A fair cop

A two-bed cottage with small front garden and parking for two cars in the rear is part of the stone-built Old Police Station, converted into houses and flats two decades ago; £136,950 at Palmer Snell.


In Yenton, near Templecombe, Lemons Ground is a four-bed Georgian house with two receptions, room, garage, outbuildings and stable block on more than seven acres; £670,000 at Jackson-Stops & Staff.


South of Wincanton, in the heart of the Blackmore Vale, Manor Farm is a four-bed 11-acre house with a former dairy that, with planning permission, could provide additional accommodation; £975,000 at Jackson-Stops & Staff.


Westbury (01256 744000) has demolished a former builder's yard and will build two-bed flats and three- and four-bed houses. The prices have not yet been released.

Estate agents

Hambledon, 01963 34000; Jackson-Stops, 01935 474066; Palmer Snell, 01963 34174.