One of Surrey's most elegant commuter towns is Chertsey, affordable despite its excellent communications and enviable riverside location. It has occupied the same site since ancient times, which today lies on the border between suburbia and the green belt. It offers plenty of period properties as well as a wide range of recently built flats, penthouses, town houses and luxury homes.
A prehistoric hill fort once occupied the elevated ground that, today, is St Anne's Hill, a 57-acre wooded park that peaks at 240 feet and provides panoramic views over the Thames basin. This area was dominated by a Benedictine abbey that was founded in 666 and, in the Middle Ages, produced decorated floor tiles. Some of them still line the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey. At the height of its wealth and influence, the abbey owned more than 50,000 acres of land. With the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, its fortunes plunged overnight.
Back in the present, however, things are rosier. "Chertsey town centre has recently had a face-lift, with pedestrianised streets and new street furniture," says Stuart Armstrong of Townends. "And these improvements have encouraged some trendy wine bars and restaurants to move into the town centre."
Finding the right kind of property at the right price was the reason for Samantha Hunt's move from a flat in Sunbury to a house in Chertsey six years ago. "I wanted a Victorian house," she explains. "Chertsey is very old and has lots of them. I also got my brother to move here. I found a nice flat in Chertsey for him and he really liked it."
Now that she has enticed her brother into town, their parents have lured her away. "They are downsizing and moving to Shepperton, and I bought their house in Sunbury," she says. "I don't really want to leave, but their house is detached, and it is a great opportunity. We bought our Chertsey house cheap because it needed work. We fixed it up and got a good price for it."
During her six years in Chertsey, Samantha got married, had one child and is now expecting another. The Hunts also have a dog. "Chertsey is a nice little town on the river, and we often take the dog for walks by the water. There are several nice bars and restaurants in the town centre. I'm sorry to be leaving."
What kind of properties are available?
"Chertsey has a real mix," says Townends' Armstrong. "It has a lot of character properties, with some cottages dating to the 1700s, and also many ex-council properties. New homes are plentiful and sell for a premium of 10 to 15 per cent."
What are the prices like?
One-bed flats cost between £125,000 and £150,000, and one-bed starter homes cost between £145,000 and £150,000. Two-bed flats start at about £150,000, and three-bed town houses sell for between £250,000 and £300,000. Six-bed houses and equestrian estates in neighbouring villages easily exceed £1m.
What's the situation for flats?
A two-double-bed flat on the first floor in Spiers Court, Orchard View, overlooking Abbey Fields and within walking distance of shops, is on the market for £249,950 at Townends. Laing has just built 144 flats in seven riverside blocks in Upper Reach, Chertsey Bridge Wharf. Many units have a balcony, terrace or roof patio, and parking spaces are available. One-bed flats start at about £189,950. Agent is Savills.
Any other new builds?
Countryside's Phoenix Apartments has 69 one- and two-bed flats situated near the station; prices start at £159,950. Another developer, Waters Edge Homes, has built 22 apartments including four riverside penthouses, on the market from £249,995.
What about family homes?
Agent James Ramsey is selling two-bed town centre Victorian cottages from about £200,000, and three-bed Victorian homes from about £245,000. A Grade II-listed Georgian town house is seeking £244,950. Townends has a three-bed detached house with integral garage and 40ft by 30ft rear garden in a small modern development in Knoll Park Road for £299,950. A 70ft garden graces a refurbished two-bed end-of-terrace bungalow with detached double garage, £194,950.
How's the transport?
Train journey time between Chertsey and London Waterloo is about 45 minutes. Chertsey is straddled by the M3 to the north and the M25 to the west. Heathrow is 15 miles away.
What about shopping?
Sainsbury's is the local supermarket, and on Saturdays there's a street market, which received its Royal Charter in 1135 from Henry I. An arts and crafts market takes place monthly, and on 24 September the Marché de France visits.
What about greenery and other amenities?
Chertsey is a base to hire boats for cruises on the Thames. Local parks include the 170-acre Chertsey Meads, and Gogmore Farm, a park with tennis courts and a riverside path. Family attractions include the Great Cockrow miniature railway and Thorpe Park.
And one for the pub quiz.
Why is Keith Moon associated with Chertsey?
The drummer for The Who lived on St Anne's Hill, and used his swimming pool as a carpark for his famous lilac Rolls-Royce.
James Ramsey, 01932 565566; Savills, 01483 796804; Townends 01932 858777Reuse content