Ancient, attractive and historically distinctive, Hampton is the leafy, well-to-do west London village that, unlike its rather more famous neighbours, has something to tempt the first- time buyer as well as the moneyed family.
Geographically, it's roughly midway between Hampton Wick, Hampton Hill and Hampton Court. Constrained by the Thames, Bushy Park, Kempton Park race course and several reservoirs, it is green and fresh, with the kind of crisp winter air that the residents of areas closer to the thick of things would covet. A redundant Thames Water site occupies the western end of town. Taggs Island is the best known of several nearby "aits" in the Thames.
History is also thick in the air. Smitten by Cardinal Wolsey's new palace, Henry VIII acquired the Manor of Hampton and Hampton Court in 1529, but Hampton was a well-established community by the time its name appeared in the 11th-century Domesday Book.
The Feathers, the earliest surviving building in Hampton, dates from the 1540s and is now three cottages. The present parish church of St Mary's was built in 1831, and there are many period houses in the area near the river. Property development spread northward toward Hampton Hill and Hanworth and includes 1920s and 1930s homes and, at the northern tip, the Nurserylands estate built in the 1970s.
The 18th-century actor and playwright David Garrick had a home here that is now a block of apartments, and his nearby comemmorative Garrick's Temple is occasionally open to the public. Bletchley Park code breaker Alan Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington after the war and lived in Hampton. A marathon runner, he regularly trained in Bushy Park.
"Our typical buyer is a family with small children moving from more expensive areas nearby," says Tom Sawyer of Townends estate agents. "Hampton's infant and junior schools are highly regarded, so they move here when their children are young and usually stay until they are grown. Hampton offers better value for money, so they can trade up from a small cottage in, say, Teddington, to a three or four-bed house with a garage here."
What kind of place can you buy?
Hampton's clutch of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian homes are on the southern end near the Thames. The vintage gets newer as you head north toward the 1970s Nurserylands Estate. Also available are houseboats on Taggs and other islands.
What does property cost?
Small flats are available for less than £150,000; while starter homes are less than £200,000. A three-bed semi with garage will set you back £425,000. Georgian houses with five or more bedrooms sell for more than £1m.
How good are the local transport links?
Hampton Station has service to Waterloo via Kingston and Wimbledon. Hampton is convenient for Heathrow and the M3/A316 for central London, and the M25 and the South-west.
...and the shopping?
A few shops are clustered around the station and there are two Sainsbury's - the little one on the Nurserylands estate, and the big one on the old St Clare's nursery site. The nearest local shops are in Hampton Hill and Teddington, and an extensive array of eateries, pubs and clubs along with department stores and other retail riches are in Kingston and Richmond.
How do you have fun around here?
In the great outdoors. Bushy Park has deer, a fishing lake, football pitches and tennis courts. Hampton Court Palace hosts many concerts and activities throughout the year, and Kempton Park racecourse and Strawberry Hill golf course are near.
What standard are the schools?
Hampton Hill junior school scored an impeccable 100 per cent in science but came out below the London averages in English and maths. St Mary's and St Peter's CE Primary and St James's Roman Catholic Primary (each actually or virtually achieving 100 per cent in all three categories), are in Twickenham and Teddington.
Why are the filter beds so controversial?
The future of the Thames Water site, with its many filter beds and listed buildings, is uncertain. The site is large enough to accommodate a massive residential estate. When a smaller section of filter beds was converted not long ago, local residents succeeded in scaling down the project, and getting a park in the process. Many of them now fear that they may have to take up arms again.
And one for the pub quiz...
Who does Garrick's Temple honour, and who helped design it?
Townends, 020-8487 3443; Waterview, 020-8398 8550
What you can buy?
Four-bedroom semi £799,950 Four-bed Edwardian semi has a garage, loft room and a 60ft garden, but needs a lick of paint. Townends, 020-8487 3443
Grade II apartment £339,950 Two-bed second-floor apartment in the Grade II-listed Garrick Villas; river view and communal gardens. John D Wood, 020-8940 6611
One-bed conversion £215,000 One-bed, ground-floor Victorian conversion has an open plan lounge/kitchen and private garden near the river and Bushy Park. Gascoigne-Pees, 020-8977 0102Reuse content