Hot Spot: Yeovil, Somerset

The football team has been promoted - and the property prices are on their way up too, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

Never mind the bronze age and Roman artefacts in the local history museum or the 14th century church. The buzz in Yeovil today centres around the town's football club, which has clawed its way up from the Conference League to Nationwide League Division III. This achievement has taken the club a mere 108 years, and for much of that time the club faced a literally uphill struggle; Yeovil Town's old Huish ground was renowned for its sloping pitch.

"The team's nickname is the Glovers, because historically Yeovil was known for its glove-making industry," explains Zoë Lucas of Connells. "It is still a busy market-town, but now the major industry is light engineering and many people move to the town for employment. Helicopter-maker Westland is the main employer, and other key employers are Yeovilton air base and the local hospital, which attracts employees from home and abroad."

The area attracts former as well as current workers: "South of Yeovil are acres of scenic farmland and orchards, many with apple trees for the local cider industry. The attractive villages around Yeovil are a magnet for people retiring from the Home Counties who want to take advantage of our lower property prices," says Lucas.

Young families are also catered for, according to Simon Neville-Jones of Humberts: "We are well served by good independent schools at Millfield, Sherborne, Hazlegrove and North Perrott. Period village and rural properties such as manor houses, old rectories, farmhouses and cottages are available and fetch excellent prices in Yeovil's outlying villages. The most popular are East Coker, West Coker, Hinton St George and South Petherton."

The area was immortalised by American-born poet T S Eliot, whose East Coker makes up part of The Four Quartets; with lines like "houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended/Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass" it could have been penned by a chartered surveyor or green protester. Eliot's ancestors originated in this part of Somerset and his ashes are interred in the parish church. The local MP was Sir Paddy Ashdown, until his retirement in 2001, and the England cricket all-rounder Ian Botham attended Yeovil's Bucklers Mead comprehensive.

According to Neville-Jones, property prices increased between 15 and 20 per cent last year, a rise he attributes to "the increased popularity of Yeovil itself, and nationwide price increases generally, and in neighbouring Dorset in particular. Prices have stabilised recently, even adjusting downward about five per cent."

The low-down

Getting there

Yeovil has service to London Waterloo (130 miles, two hours- plus); faster service (95 minutes) to Paddington is from Castle Cary, 13 miles from Yeovil via the Plymouth-Bristol-London line. Yeovil also has rail service with Weymouth and Bristol. The A303 is 5 miles away and Bristol, Exeter and Bournemouth airports are all within 40 miles of the town.

Shopping

Quedam shopping centre has local department store Denners, major supermarkets and the usual high-street retailers. There is also a twice-weekly street market and a Friday livestock market.

Leisure

Goldenstones Pools and Leisure Centre has swimming pools and a gym, sauna and steam room. Yeovil Recreation Centre offers pitch and putt, crazy golf, tennis, rugby, football, athletics and dry skiing. Sailing and fishing are available nearby.

Attractions

The Museum of South Somerset collection includes prehistoric artefacts, plus items from the Roman era and the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Haynes Motor Museum is in Sparkford. The Fleet Air Arm Museum is located at Yeovilton. Annual events include horse trials, a steam- engine rally and a carnival.

Entertainment

There's a multiplex cinem and two theatres – the Octagon and the Yeovil Dramatic Society's Swan Theatre – offering drama, dance, music and pantos. The Yeovil Amateur Pantomime Society welcomes new talent. Good restaurants can be found in nearby villages and in Sherborne.

What you'll pay

Connells says that typical prices are £75,000 for a one-bed flat, £105,000 for a two-bed mid-terrace, £140,000 for a three-bed semi, and £200,000 for a four-bed detached. B&B are selling a 2-reception 2-bed end terrace (with loft extension providing third bedroom), near the centre, for £96,500.

New

Alvington Lea is a new Wimpey development of flats and houses near the town centre; 3-bedders start at £134,995 (01935 706264).

Villages

In Stoke sub Hamdon, a 3-year-old hamstone house with stone mullioned windows and brick-twist chimney costs c. £450,000 at Knight Frank, and the Old Dairy House costs £400,000 at Jackson-Stops. Both are detached and thatched. Agents Greenslade are selling a grade II-listed, 2-bed cottage in Mudford for £160,000.

Capital convenience

In Castle Cary, Maxdene is a 4-bed listed house with a walled garden, £495,000 at Jackson-Stops.

Granny and great-granny

A 3-bed bungalow with an adjoining one-bed annexe in Lower Ordcombe, 3 miles outside Yeovil, is £295,000 at TRG Lawrence.

Estate agents

Bradford & Bingley, 01935 476348; Greenslade Taylor Hunt, 01935 415300; Humberts, 01935 477277; Jackson-Stops, 01935 474066; Michael de Pelet, Knight Frank, 01935 812236; TRG Lawrence, 01935 410777.

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