Best things about living in Hook
PUBLISHED: 16:35 02 July 2015 | UPDATED: 11:35 02 May 2018
Hook always feels as though it's on the way to somewhere else, Emma Caulton wonders about the pleasures of staying put
At the risk of offending the locals, Hook is no looker. At its centre (if you can call it that) is little more than a couple of roundabouts and a crossroads of fairly unexciting shops. There are a few pubs, a Tesco supermarket, railway station, church (designed by the same architect responsible for Guildford Cathedral if you’re wondering why it looks familiar) and a landscaped business park with several big names (the likes of Hewlett Packard, Serco and Virgin Media). However what it loses in the looks department, it more than makes up for with ‘quality of life’. Hook is located between Basingstoke and Fleet and within Hart District Council, which has carried off the title ‘Best Place to Live in the UK’ in Halifax’s Quality of Life Survey for the past four years. The accolade is based on wellbeing, education, high employment levels, low crime rates, and even good weather. In short, all those things that make modern life comfortable.
This is where Hook scores. Communications are good. There’s an M3 junction within a very easy drive and a mainline station with London Waterloo reachable in less than an hour. For shopping the essentials are provided – from a butcher’s to Boots the chemist, and a couple of decent Indian restaurants. However you can also browse the selection of boutiquey independents in nearby Odiham and Hartley Wintney, or the lively shopping centre just down the road at Basingstoke. Schools in the area include Hook Infant School which is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, Hook Junior School and Whitewater Primary School, at Rotherwick, are both ‘good’, and Robert May’s Secondary School at Odiham is also ‘outstanding’.
Hook was originally merely a scattering of farms and cottages alongside the main coach route from London to Exeter. As that road grew in importance, so did Hook. It was considered for development after the Second World War – but Basingstoke was picked instead. Over the past decades it has continued to grow anyway, and so quickly that it is easy to forget that it is still (technically) just a village. It certainly continues to have the feel of a village with a couple of village halls (Elizabeth Hall and the Community Centre) and a collection of ‘villagey’ local activities, from Brownies to ballroom dancing, and groups, including Hook Players, and the distinctive Hook Eagle Morris Men, established as recently as 1991. It all seems very jovial, welcoming and friendly.
The area is popular and the housing market moves quickly with those in particular demand going to sealed bids. Property largely comprises unvillage-like modern estates of mostly good-sized family homes in decent plots and lots of greenery. Older properties can still be found in Hook, but if it’s period and character you’re after, explore the surrounding area. On all sides is pleasant countryside and pretty villages that make me go ‘ahh’ with their greens, old timber-framed farmhouses, cottages, country pubs and the sense of life lived well. These villages include Rotherwick, which has the splendidly lavish Tylney Hall, an Arts and Crafts village hall and succeeds in supporting two well-liked pubs, Newnham with its spacious green; North Warnborough, with canalside walks and award-winning Newlyns farm shop, cafe and cookery school - and picturesque Greywell – past winner of best-kept village in Hampshire and with another popular country pub - you never seem to be that far from a decent pint and a pub garden with a view.
So don’t be deceived when you drive on through Hook and assume there is not much there - demand for property is high, prices are buoyant, and the living is, apparently, easy.
Simon Dredge - Mackenzie Smith, Hook
“The majority of buyers moving into Hook are young families and commuters. Hook provides excellent commuter links to London Waterloo and to the M3 and M4 motorways. I have observed an influx of buyers from London who can enjoy the pleasant community and surrounds of Hook without adding much to their existing commute.
Many buyers choose Hook for the local schooling which is superb: Hook Infant and Primary schools are very popular and Robert Mays secondary school in Odiham benefits from excellent Ofsted results. It is often a major decision factor for those choosing to live in the area.
Most of Hook was built in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s so the village comprises chiefly modern houses within estates, yet along the A30 and surrounding the village there are more character properties.
Having grown up in Hook myself, it’s great to be selling houses in the area that I know and love so well. It’s also been fantastic to see how the village has evolved over the years, but the core reasons why people live in Hook have not changed at all. I have seen the village experience some development in that time, but the general feel is much the same.”