More For Your Money: Hampton Wick TW11

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Across the Thames opposite Kingston in south-west London, Hampton Wick has its own train station, a healthy stretch of riverside houses, good schools, outstanding shopping, a rustic ambience and plenty of history.

Across the Thames opposite Kingston in south-west London, Hampton Wick has its own train station, a healthy stretch of riverside houses, good schools, outstanding shopping, a rustic ambience and plenty of history.

Property conveyancing in this area isn't what it used to be. A while back, one Mr H Plantagenet became smitten with a local pile under construction and said, "We'll take it!" And take it Henry VIII did, becoming the occupier of Hampton Court instead of Cardinal Wolsey, for whom it was being built.

Kristenne and Steve Pickles were also immediately won over by their house on the edge of Bushy Park, but they paid for their des res. "When we viewed our cottage for the first time, it was also the first time we had been in Hampton Wick, and we loved it," says Kristenne Pickles.

"My husband Steve and I had been living in a flat in Putney and wanted more space. We have a Jack Russell and we got fed up going down the stairs taking her out every morning."

For Kristenne, large parks and the Thames compensate for a small house: "We are close to Bushy Park, Hampton Court and the river, and we like walks and outdoor activities. Hampton Wick is unusual. The town has its characters, hippies and people who live on boats. People speak to you in the local pubs, which is not the case in Kingston and Teddington. And we have lots of pubs for such a small area. In the past, you could not drink in Kingston, so they built the pubs here."

She also appreciates the blend of urban, suburban and country living that the area affords. "It is very easy to get into central London - only a half-hour by train to Waterloo. Then, another half hour and we are back in virtual countryside. By road we can quickly get out of the city altogether."

The Pickles' premises is a two-bedroom cottage that was once a mole-catcher's house built on the orders of a nervous royalty. "William of Orange's horse tripped on a mole hill, and the King died from injuries he sustained from that fall," Kristenne explains.

Tuppy, their Jack Russell, doesn't have to earn his keep. Life is also easier for her masters, Kristenne says. "We just chuck her out into the back garden every morning."

What kind of properties are available?

There are some two-bedroom flats and cottages that might appeal to singles and young couples, but family houses dominate, says estate agent Robert Leigh. "Hampton Wick has many good two-floor houses, mostly late Victorian and early Edwardian. In other parts of the borough of Richmond, many of the houses have four storeys."

What are the prices like?

A small one-bed flat on a side street can cost as little as £130,000, whereas a riverside one-bedder in a new block can cost more than £200,000. Average prices for two-bed flats and cottages range between £200,000 and £300,000, and three-bed family houses start from £450,000. "Five-bed houses can cost more than a million, and unique riverside properties sell for astronomical sums," Leigh says.

What's new?

Laing's Langdon Park, on the old Normansfield Hospital site along the river, is sold out, and the one remaining detached house at its Seymour Place on Glamorgan Road is on the market at £1.6m. Marina Place is a recently completed block of riverside flats and private marina next to Kingston Bridge, opposite John Lewis in Kingston. Prices for two-bed flats start from about £500,000.

How's the transport?

Rail service is into Waterloo. Via the A3 and M3, Hampton Wick has fast access to the M25, the southern coast and the West Country. It is 11 miles from Heathrow and 25 miles from Gatwick.

How's the shopping?

Kingston is one of Surrey's premier retail centres, with John Lewis, M&S, Bentalls, Argos Superstore, Wickes, Asda, a wide array of specialist shops, and an outdoor market.

How do the schools rate?

Sacred Heart RC Primary scored 100 per cent each in English, maths and science (the averages for England are 78, 74 and 86 per cent respectively). Teddington secondary on Broom Road notched up 66 per cent (12 points above average).

What's there to do around here?

Kempton Park racecourse and Strawberry Hill golf course are nearby, and there are many tennis courts and athletic fields in Bushy Park and local recreation grounds. Private sailing, tennis and social clubs include Ariel Sailing Centre, the Lensbury Club, Thamesis Club and the Hampton Wick Royal Cricket Club. Bushy Park's avenue of horse chestnut trees, laid out by Christopher Wren, traditionally attract visitors on Chestnut Sunday (the Sunday nearest 11 May).

What about the arts and entertainment?

A multi-screen cinema opened recently in Kingston, and Richmond and Orange Tree theatres are in the area. The Landmark Centre, located in a redundant Gothic church in Teddington, hosts concerts, fairs and exhibitions throughout the year.

And one for the pub quiz

What connects Bushy Park, General Eisenhower and the bouncing bomb?

Answer: Ike planned the D-Day landings in the park, which is also the location of the National Physical Laboratory, where inventor/scientist Barnes Wallis developed the bouncing bomb.

Featherstone-Leigh, 020-8977 8118