Hot Spot: Witney, Oxon

Picturesque, tourist-free, recession proof and (comparatively) cheap, Robert Liebman says this lovely Cotswold town is worth the move
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The Independent Online

With blankets as well as beer, the better the water the better the final product. The River Windrush at Witney supposedly provides the secret ingredient behind the blankets that have been manufactured in West Oxfordshire's largest town since the middle ages. The last mill closed in 2002.

With blankets as well as beer, the better the water the better the final product. The River Windrush at Witney supposedly provides the secret ingredient behind the blankets that have been manufactured in West Oxfordshire's largest town since the middle ages. The last mill closed in 2002.

"Witney sits between two of the UK's best-recognised tourist attractions, Oxford and the Cotswolds," Suzanne Bowerman of Connells says. "The property market is extremely buoyant and nowadays is on the side of sellers. As always, demand for two-bedroom properties outweighs supply, and currently this also applies to four-bedroom detached family houses."

Despite its location Witney lacks, "the fuss of coach parties and souvenir hunters who besiege other Cotswold towns," Ronnie Van Der Ploeg of John D Wood says. "It has picturesque streets, historic buildings, and good state and private primary schools. New property developments have a mix of property sizes that brought first-timers and young families into the area."

Witney's 13th-century Church of St Mary and the medieval Buttercross are untouchable but, adds Van Der Ploeg, "the mill buildings were imaginatively converted into waterside town houses which preserve the original character of the area. Oxfordshire fares better than many other areas during economic downturns. The county is cushioned against the wildest excesses."

Carolyn Mackenzie of Stacks says that, "fast mainline trains from nearby Charlbury and Long Hanborough stations open up this area to commuters, keeping house prices high, though lower than in the heart of the Cotswolds."

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Finstock Station is three miles from Witney. Other nearby stations on the Cotswold line between London Paddington and Hereford are at Long Hanborough, Coombe, Charlbury, Ascott-under-Wychwood and Shipton-under-Wychwood.

Attractions

Cogges Manor Farm Museum is a working Victorian farm incorporating part of an original manor house and an Edwardian farm interior. Livestock demonstrations are regular events. Today visitors can make peg dolls, and tomorrow there is a display of live falcons.

Blenheim

The Duke of Marlborough's Blenheim Palace at Woodstock eight miles from Witney was the birthplace of Winston Churchill, who is buried nearby in Bladon. Blenheim Palace is marking the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Blenheim this year, with events including a Rover P6 Rally on 6 June, and a display of military ceremony and precision by the Blenheim Company on 12 June. In July the Palace will host jazz, pop and classical concerts.

Prices

One-bed flats typically cost £120,000. In Deer Park, west of the town centre, a one-bed end-terrace starter home with 22ftx15ft rear garden is £132,500 at Nigel Dixon, and a 12-year-old two-bed terrace with two parking spaces and rear garden is £158,950 at Allen & Harris. Near the town centre, a two-bed period terrace with south facing rear garden is £185,000, at Connells.

Family homes

A two-bed period detached house with off-street parking is £220,000, and a three-bed detached is £210,000 at Nigel Dixon. A modern three-storey town house near the town centre is £249,950 at Allen & Harris. Buchan House, a Grade II-listed four-bed town house in the town centre, is c.£450,000 at John D Wood.

Mill conversions

The Mill House in on the River Windrush in Ducklington two miles from Witney is a Grade II-listed five-bed former mill with original wheel house and wheel on about 85 acres, for c.£725,000 at John D Wood. In the nearby hamlet of Field Assarts, a two-bed converted barn is £190,000, at Connells.

Ersatz mill conversion

30 Woodford Mill is a riverside conversion not of a mill but of barns and warehouses alongside the River Windrush. A five-bed two-reception town house on three storeys with Jack and Jill shower room is £360,000 at Allen & Harris. 26 Woodford Mill is a two-storey two-bed and is c.£365,000 at Carter Jonas.

New

Charles Church's Kingsley Park near the A40 has two four-bed homes, £419,950 and £434,950 (01993 849674). Persimmon's developments include: two-bed flats at the Orangery, from £154,995 (01993 848512); and houses soon to be released at The Limes. In Carterton: the coach house, two-bed flats, and three- and four-bed houses at the Ridings, from £129,995; four-bed houses will be released at Charlbury Court.

Estate agents

Allen & Harris, 01993 705915; Carter Jonas, 01865 310653; Connells, 01993 778281; John D Wood, 01865 311522; Nigel Dixon, 01993 776363; Stacks, 01295 760743.

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