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Town vs county - Basingstoke and surrounding villages

PUBLISHED: 09:43 23 December 2013 | UPDATED: 09:46 23 December 2013

Basingstoke is popular with commuters, but if you don’t want to live in town, Emma Caulton suggests looking west

Basingstoke

1) Mainline station and access to M3.

2) Great facilities.

Considering the historic heart of this old market town was ripped out back in the 1960s before we understood the value of our architectural heritage, Basingstoke is recovering remarkably well. Shiny Festival Place (which celebrated its tenth anniversary last year) dominates the town centre: one of the UK’s top ten shopping centres and Hampshire’s biggest with 200 shops, and restaurants, bars, cafes and a cinema. Basingstoke has also grown into an economic hub with UK headquarters for the likes of Motorola and the Automobile Association, so there are lots of big glossy, glassy blocks in landscaped grounds. But there are still weekly markets and traces of Basingstoke’s past; and bars and clubs in the older part (Top of Town) hint at a lively night life. Here, too, is the town’s Willis Museum in the former town hall; head to the edge of town for other reminders of Basingstoke’s past at Milestones Museum.

Many may sneer at Basingstoke (calling it Boringstoke for starters), but for those in the know it offers a bit of everything. For commuters it is just a 45-minute journey into London Waterloo. For families, schooling is reasonable: both Basingstoke College of Technology and Queen Mary’s College are rated Good with some Outstanding features by Ofsted. There is plenty to keep youngsters occupied including a sports centre in Festival Place and an edge of town leisure quarter with pool with flumes, bowling, ice rink, indoor sky diving and ski slopes. The Anvil and The Haymarket offer quality entertainment while the charms of some of Hampshire’s most underrated countryside is on on the doorstep with walks and cycle routes through heathland and woodland.

Basingstoke is expanding with new developments on the outskirts, but you might be surprised to discover rows of Edwardian terraced houses and closes of big, family homes within walking distance of the station. Along with ongoing efforts to strengthen Basingstoke’s community with events such as Basingstoke Live, overall what Basingstoke loses on looks it makes up for on quality of life.

Cliddesden Court, Basingstoke

A substantial family house in a generous plot near the town centre in one of Basingstoke’s most prestigious locations. Accommodation includes three reception rooms, five bedrooms and three bathrooms, with features such as a big kitchen/breakfast room, sitting room with fireplace and underfloor heating in the conservatory through Gascoigne Pees, Basingstoke, £825,000 on 01256 688652.

Did you know?

The model and actress Elizabeth Hurley was born in Basingstoke.

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Dummer

1) Easy M3 access.

2) Choice of mainline stations.

Dummer offers the perfect quick escape for the commuter as it pretty much has its own M3 junction. So it is off the motorway and almost instantly into surprisingly quiet country lanes, past the Queen’s Head Inn (a popular, old-fashioned pub serving decent grub), village hall, memorial gardens and cute 12th century church. There are lots of good leisure facilities including a recreation field with tennis courts, cricket centre and golf club.

The village feels exclusive. It looks manicured, the countryside has the appearance of parkland and the property is mostly impressive - there are lots of old manor houses and converted farm buildings with names like Long Barn and Old Brewery often with cream washed brickwork and Farrow & Ball woodwork in smoky shades. Although there are pockets of more recent development, including a close of 1980s family houses, nothing is too obtrusive.

Mainline stations at Basingstoke, Micheldever Station and Overton are about five or so miles away, providing good access to London and Southampton.

On the other side of the M3 is Dummer Garden Centre and another well-regarded pub, the Sun Inn, while in the other direction, winding country lanes lead to the Candover Valley and all that has to offer.

Did you know?

Dummer was home to the original It Girl – Tara Palmer Tomkinson.

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North Waltham

1) Easy M3 access.

2) Good facilities.

North Waltham has all the ingredients essential for village life with a picturesque green and pond at its centre, a good village store, a well-used church, a couple of pubs, a recreation ground with tennis courts, a pre-school and a primary school rated Good by Ofsted.

It’s such a quiet village it’s hard to believe it is only just off the A30 with easy access to the motorway network on one side and quiet Hampshire countryside on the other - including Steventon where Jane Austen was born and brought up.

Property includes centuries-old thatched half-timbered and brick and flint cottages clad in wisteria down narrow country lanes, plus some mid-20th century infill.

Did you know?

North Waltham was Hampshire Village of the Year 2010 and a finalist in this year’s competition.

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Oakley

1) Outstanding schools.

2) Excellent facilities.

Oakley has a huge range of facilities including a doctors’ surgery, dental practice, infant and junior schools, both regularly achieving Outstanding from Ofsted, nursery, playschool, pubs, post office, butcher, chemist, village store, interiors shop and more. Yet at its heart Oakley still has the prettiest village green with weeping willows and a duck pond. For families there are five recreation grounds and play areas and other activities include the cricket club, tennis club and equestrian centre, as well as lots to do at the two village halls. There is a lively community association and regular events such as carols by the pond (21 December). Homes range from modern bungalows to old manor houses and chocolate box cottages.

Did you know?

Oakley has previously been named as the happiest village in the country.

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Three to see

Tower Hill Farm, Dummer

A Grade II listed farmhouse with exposed beams and open fireplaces, bespoke kitchen with Aga, four reception rooms and three bedrooms in lovely gardens of about 3.4 acres through Strutt & Parker, Odiham, 01256 702892 for £1,250,000.

***

The Green, North Waltham

A charming listed thatched cottage dating back to the 17th century with two receptions, three bedrooms, kitchen/breakfast room, separate office and secluded garden through Connells, Beggarwood, 01256 218630 for £500,000.

***

Sunbeam Cottage, Oakley

A picturesque Grade II listed village house with four bedrooms, four receptions and stunning octagonal building currently used as an office, annexe and lovely gardens of nearly an acre through Strutt & Parker, Odiham, 01256 702892 for £1,495,000.

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