What it’s like living in and around Liss and Liphook
PUBLISHED: 15:15 16 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:15 16 September 2019
Chapplins of Liss
Emma Caulton praises community and countryside in east Hampshire around Liss and Liphook
The opening of the Hindhead tunnel was a gamechanger for this heavily wooded, eastern pocket of Hampshire. It has taken a while. The tunnel under the Devil's Punchbowl in neighbouring Surrey opened eight years ago, making a significant difference to travelling times on the London to Portsmouth A3. Many have now twigged that they can swap a slightly longer commute by road for substantially more house (if they are prepared to forego the cachet of a Surrey postcode). As for those in search of countryside with commutability, this is nirvana.
Liss and Liphook, both sizeable villages off the A3 and with mainline stations, make sense as focal points for property searches. From Liphook, train services into London Waterloo take around an hour, and ten minutes longer from Liss. In the other direction, Portsmouth takes 50 minutes from Liphook and 40 minutes from Liss.
Before the coming of the railway in the mid-19th century this was primarily an agricultural area. Liss parish still comprises some 3,567 acres of semi-rural countryside and lies within the South Downs National Park. Liss grew in the Victorian period around the railway station, moving across the River Rother from the original settlement at West Liss.
Liphook developed earlier during the 18th century as a coach stop, although the wooded location made coach services targets for highwaymen. Later the surrounding landscape provided inspiration for the author Flora Thompson, who lived in Liphook from 1916-28 as her husband was the postmaster here. She went on to write her trilogy Lark Rise to Candleford, evoking a pastoral idyll.
Liphook and Liss are both surrounded by miles of countryside much of which is owned by the National Trust. This is good walking, running and cycling country. One walk through Weavers Down and Holly Hills near Liphook is named after Flora Thompson. A long distance footpath, The Shipwrights Way, runs through Liss from Alice Holt to Portsmouth. Many other walks from Liss lead to nearby Hawkley, Petersfield and to Liphook via Rake or Milland.
Liphook is a cared-for village adorned by floral displays, planned and planted by Liphook in Bloom volunteers. The community also comes together for Liphook Carnival, held since 1903 (bar the world wars) to commemorate the night the clocks go back with a parade of floats followed by bonfire and firework display.
Amenities include essentials such as a bakery, doctors' surgery and good schools. Liphook is home to the junior school for Churcher's College, Highfield and Brookham prep and pre-prep schools, Liphook Junior is considered 'good' by Ofsted, and Bohunt School is a top 50 secondary state school rated 'outstanding'.
As for downtime, popular pubs include The Deers Hut and The Rising Sun (just outside Liphook in Milland). There are unexpected extras with two golf courses (Liphook Golf Club and one at Old Thorns co-designed by Peter Alliss), spas such as Champneys Forest Mere lakeside resort and, for a bit of fun, Hollycombe working steam museum with steam railway and Edwardian fairground.
In contrast Liss is often described as 'hidden'. This is partly topographical, partly because this is not a destination village. What it lacks in looks it makes up for with its comfortable charm and community spirit. This quality raised Liss's profile in 2017 when it was crowned Village of the Year at the Hampshire Association of Local Councils Awards. Liss's Triangle Community Centre picked up Best Village Feature, and its Crossover Youth Centre won the Inspiring Places Award. Liss also collected three further Awards for Community Engagement and Excellence in Localism.
The hub of village life is The Triangle community centre operating out of a former Victorian school building. It offers more than 50 groups, from an all-important after-school club to Italian and Pilates classes, as well as being a venue for popular events such as Liss's annual beer and music festival.
Otherwise facilities include doctors' surgery, great schools (Liss Junior is rated 'good' by Ofsted while The Petersfield School at secondary level is considered 'outstanding'), cricket club and tennis club. There's also a surprising number of cafes, pubs and restaurants for a village - such as highly recommended Nathan Marshall at Plestor House in West Liss; The Temple Inn, a contemporary country pub at Liss Forest; and welcoming Turtle Bean café near the station in Liss.
Between them, Liss and Liphook provide a Candleford for the 21st century - countryside combined with community, comforts and charm.
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