Why you should move to Berkhamsted
PUBLISHED: 16:55 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 February 2013
Shops, heritage and wide open green spaces - there are plenty of reasons why you might want to make a move to Berkhamsted, as Pat Bramley discovers
BERKHAMSTED is one of the few places in Hertfordshire where homebuyers are likely to stipulate that their preferred area is in or close to the town centre.
To be within walking distance of the station, schools, shops, restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues is a huge advantage made possible by the wide variety of apartments and houses close to the heart of Berkhamsted.
Famous locals include most notably the author Graham Greene whose father was headmaster at Berkhamsted's famous public school.
Clementine Churchill, wife of the wartime Prime Minister, spent much of her childhood in Berkhamsted; the sailor Robin Knox-Johnson went to Berkhamsted School, Sarah Brightman, singer and former wife of Andrew Lloyd Webber, was born here, so was TV personality Esther Rantzen. Even John Cleese lived in the town for a while. Locals rarely have a problem finding a leading light to open a fete.
It couldn't be much better for transport - the rail journey from Berkhamsted Railway Station to Euston is just over 35 minutes, Junction 8 of the M1 is between seven and eight miles away and Junction 20 of M25 is about 12 miles. And to top it off, Luton Airport is just a short nine miles away.
Berkhamsted School is a co-ed boarding and day school taking pupils from 3-18. Chris Moorhouse at the local office of Knight Frank says families move to the town because of the excellence of the private and state education in the area.
Fees at Berkhamsted School range from 1,082 a term for three year olds attending mornings only in the pre-prep department to 8,264 a term for boarders in the top five years. The fee for weekly boarders (not including tuition) is 1,753 a term.
Parents who opt for state schools at secondary level either choose Ashylns School which is set in 40 acres in Chesham Road, Berkhamsted, or state schools in nearby Hemel Hempstead or Tring.
Berkhamsted's wide medieval high street gives the modern shopping centre character that new towns lack. There's a Waitrose, WH Smith and Tesco along with a good selection of other chains and attractive boutiques. And a Saturday market.
A town of this character and status has sports clubs and special interest groups for pretty well every pursuit.
The privately owned beautifully restored art deco cinema is renowned. The Rex has been described by the BBC as 'possibly Britain's most beautiful' cinema .The usual seating in the stalls has been replaced by swivel armchairs placed around small cocktail tables. Seats in the gallery upstairs have much more leg room than most cinemas. The audience settles in well in advance of each screening to enjoy a drink and a few savouries from the cinema's licensed bar.
The town's other attractions are the ruins of the Norman castle, now in the care of English Heritage, and the varied pleasures of having The Grand Union Canal and the River Bulbourne within cycling distance.
Chris Moorhouse at Knight Frank in Berkhamsted says the local market has picked up since May. Here's his guide to what you can expect to pay, give or take the odd thousand:
- First time buyer flats: from 150,000
- Canal side one bedroom starter homes: 190,000
- Two bedroom town centre terraced Victorian and Edwardian houses: from 300,000
- Four-five bedroom opulent terraced period houses in the centre of town: close to 700,000
- Large detached houses at Gravel Path, one of the two most sought after parts of town: 1m+
- Large detached houses in Shootersway at the posh south end of town: 700,000-1.5m
- Four-five bedroom modern houses in Little Gaddesden - the village outside Berkhamsted where wealthy buyers aspire to live: 800,000-1m.