Hot Spot: Hereford, Herefordshire

This historic city still has reasonable house prices - just make sure you know which side of the river you need to be on, says Robert Liebman
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"Hereford is a city with the feel of a large market town," says Jayne Perks, regional director of Stacks search agency. "It has lovely residential areas such as Inge Hill and Hampton Park, popular with families, with large period houses in striking distance of the centre from about £400,000. The river can be difficult to negotiate during rush hour, so buyers should be aware of the side of the city they need for schools and other purposes."

Price comparisons work in Hereford's favour. "Prices are creeping up slowly and gently, but people who have historically been looking in areas further south and east such as the Cotswolds and South Warwickshire are being attracted by favourable prices," Perks adds. "Hereford is an incredibly friendly city. It still has its own livestock market, the river Wye runs through the heart, and people are drawn here more for what it has to offer than an actual need to be there."

Hereford lies outside the boundaries of comfortable daily commuting to either London or Birmingham, "but it offers a feasible occasional commute," Perks argues. "Flexible working allows more people to locate themselves this far from the major cities. And small business as opposed to large industry is finding its home in the area."

Hereford's centrepiece is its 1079 cathedral, home to the 13th-century Mappa Mundi, and its chained library. Actress Nell Gwynn (1650-87) mistress of Charles II, and a famous Drury Lane comedienne, was born there in 1650, and 30 years after her death, the actor and dramatist David Garrick, who later managed the Drury Lane Theatre, was born in the town in 1717.

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Major rail services operate from Leominster and Ledbury as well as Hereford, which is about 20 miles from the M50.

Attractions

Amateur choral groups include the Hereford Chamber Choir, Hereford Rail Male Voice Choir, and Hereford Police Male Voice Choir. Every third year the city hosts The Three Choirs Festival (the other two years belong to Gloucester and Worcester). Ledbury's annual English Festival of food, the arts and booze will be held 21-25 April.

Cider country

Historic home of Bulmer Cider, Hereford's cider museum and King Offa Distillery are open to the public. The Herefordshire Cider Route encompasses about a dozen producers and two specialist retailers around Hereford.

Hereford Cathedral and school

The cathedral has a junior school and an independent co-educational secondary school with pass rates above 90 per cent. Chained libraries thwarted loose-fingered readers by securing books with chains. Hereford Cathedral's chained library is the largest, with the original chains, rods and locks intact. The Mappa Mundi dates from 1289 and measures 4x5 feet.

Prices

Small houses outside the town centre start at about £100,000. A range of four- and five-bed detached houses, from about £200,000 to £300,000, are available at Connells, which is selling new flats and houses built by developer Harper near the town centre, from £165,000. Bramble Cottage in Clehonger, four miles from Hereford has two bedrooms and two receptions, £138,000, at Bill Jackson.

Family homes

In the £400,000 to £500,000 range, a four-bed four-reception executive house, £425,000, and a five-bed four-reception detached house in Holme Lacy four miles from Hereford with a large studio over the double garage, £495,000. The six-bed Howton Grove Barn, with two original cider presses, in Wormbridge, eight miles from Hereford, £425,000; all at Bill Jackson. A double-fronted detached four-bed Victorian house overlooking Castle Pool has a double drawing room/dining room, conservatory and detached garage, c.£500,000 at Knight Frank.

Two-tone

The listed two-bed half-timbered thatched-roofed Pitch Cottage in Dilwyn, c.£250,000 at Bill Jackson. Dilwyn, Weobley, Broxwood and several others are known as the "Black and White Villages".

Conversions in Bartestree

The Old Presbytery is a detached five-bed three-reception house with conservatory and caravan, £425,000 at Connells. A Grade II former church with 33ft living-room, c.£345,000, at Bill Jackson and Knight Frank.

Two for one

Almeney Manor is a half-timbered Grade II-listed seven-bed manor house (c.£750,000) with a one-bed stable lodge (c.£150,000), FPDSavills (Ledbury), 01531 636321.

New riverside

Laing's Victoria Bridge is a Grade II-listed Victorian hospital conversion containing flats, townhouses and a gatehouse; flats from £99,950 to £235,000; houses from £225,000 to £287,500 (01432 269815).

Estate agents

Connells, 01432 267511; Bill Jackson, 01432 344779; Knight Frank, 01432 273087; Stacks 01684 833870.

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