Best things about moving to a village around Winchester
PUBLISHED: 10:24 19 October 2015 | UPDATED: 10:24 19 October 2015
Winchester is surrounded by lovely villages, usually offering more space for your money than in the city itself, says Emma Caulton
This is the lifestyle: school children amble homewards across wildflower-strewn downland, others cycle along a waterside towpath. I’m in Shawford, a country idyll on the southern outskirts of Winchester. This is one of a series of attractive villages circumnavigating the city – ideal for those looking for a local community and more space for their money while still being able to enjoy Winchester’s facilities - including boutiques and cafes and lively festival scene. For commuters, many of these villages offer good transport links too.
South: Ideal for commuters, the cluster of villages south of Winchester have great access to the M3 and Southampton airport, and Shawford itself has a mainline station (70 minutes or so to London). Compton has leafy lanes of big houses and a primary school rated ‘good’ by Ofsted. Otterbourne has developments of executive homes, a primary school rated ‘outstanding’, village hall with lots going on (from dog training to Pilates), pretty green, woodland to explore and an almost indecent number of decent pubs (The Old Forge, The Otter and The White Horse). Shawford has lovely Edwardian villas overlooking its downs, houses hidden alongside the Itchen Navigation and others high on Bridge Lane with views over the Itchen Valley. Alongside its station is a small row of shops including a great little cafe. On the opposite side of the Itchen Twyford’s property ranges from Queen Anne manor houses to terraced cottages. A good selection of facilities includes a doctors’ surgery, two good pubs (The Bugle and The Phoenix), village store, cafe, Twyford independent school and a primary school - although it ‘requires improvement’. However all these primaries feed into either Kings in Winchester or Thornden in Chandler’s Ford – secondary schools both lauded as ‘outstanding’.
West: The scattering of picturesque villages on the edge of the lush Test Valley includes Sparsholt and Crawley which both feel well away from the hustle of everyday life. Sparsholt is the quintessential country village in microcosm with primary school rated ‘outstanding’, idiosyncratic village shop (originally the well house), long-established dining pub, The Plough Inn, and narrow lanes of lovely country homes. Crawley is charming with quaint cottages around a pretty pond, but has little in terms of facilities apart from The Fox & Hounds Inn. To the south-west of Winchester, Hursley is an attractive, busy village that’s home to IBM, has a couple of pubs, including the stylish King’s Head, a smashing butcher’s and John Keble primary school, rated ‘good’.
North: South Wonston and Sutton Scotney offer good value for money and have decent connections to road networks via the A34 and A303. South Wonston is a family-friendly enclave of suburban houses and bungalows with village hall, social club, primary school (rated ‘good’) and a pleasant recreation ground with tennis courts, all bordered by fields. Sutton Scotney is more appealing with a smattering of thatch and some well-planned new development, plus doctors’ surgery, village hall, Coach & Horses pub, shop and petrol station. This is the Dever valley, a gentle landscape of fields and barns and a sprinkling of villages such as Stoke Charity with a church adrift in fields and chocolate boxy Micheldever with thatched cottages in gardens spilling over with hollyhocks and roses. There’s a primary school rated ‘good’ and a friendly local, The Half Moon and Spread Eagle. It’s hard to believe all this is an hour by train from London as Micheldever Station is just a couple of miles up the lane.
East: This collection of elegant villages along the verdant Itchen Valley includes Easton: a manicured village with lots of traditional flint and brick houses and Farrow & Ball painted period property. It has two good pubs, The Cricketers’ Inn and The Chestnut Horse, which also operates a village store, village hall, cricket ground, and garage. Avington is a village in parkland, Ovington is home to The Bush Inn, a 17th century inn on the banks of the Itchen, while Itchen Abbas, said to have inspired Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, is home to the local primary school (rated ‘good’), village hall and a recently refurbished and rebranded pub, now The Plough. For the commuter there’s good access to the M3 and ‘A’ roads east - for walkers there are long distance paths and the South Downs.
All in all these villages offer a great way to mix community life with Winchester’s city vibe... offering the best of both worlds.
• Visiting a stunning house in Hale - Visiting an unfamiliar corner of Hampshire, Emma Caulton is tempted by a life of solitude in a woodland wilderness
• Charlotte Woodward and the New Forest home she built with her husband - Charlotte Woodward is living the dream in the New Forest. She chatted to Emma Caulton from the home she built with her husband