Why move to: Berkhamsted

PUBLISHED: 01:16 17 June 2011 | UPDATED: 09:48 19 January 2014

Canal barges along the Grand Union Canal

Canal barges along the Grand Union Canal

We all want a high standard of living so it's no surprise Berkhamsted with its wealth of amenities is still proving so popular...

CLIVE Mosson, director of country homes at Aitchisons Berkhamsted office says the main reason he chose to live in the town where he works is because the community is a mix of all income levels and ages.

There are all types of properties within walking distance of the town and the station from first-time buyer starter homes for 160,000 to large detached houses for upwards of three-quarters of a million.

Berkhamsted is a small town but we have everything here in terms of shops and services. Its not hoity-toity, its not snobby. There are other nice places to live, towns surrounded by lovely countryside and within easy commuting distance of London like Berkhamsted but some are populated almost entirely by the wealthy. We have a good balance.

Theres a genuine sense of community.

The towns most famous citizen was the author Graham Greene whose father was headmaster at the famous public school just up the road from the high street.

Clementine Churchill, wife of the wartime Prime Minister, spent much of her childhood in Berkhamsted; Sarah Brightman was born there, so was TV personality Esther Rantzen, the actor Sir Michael Hordern and TV presenter Nick Owen. But being nice people, locals dont go in for name dropping.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world, is one among many distinguished Old Berkhamstedians.


Many families move to the town chiefly to send their children not just to Berkhamsted School which accepts pupils from the age of three upwards but also for the wide choice of good prep schools in the area and the quality of the state schools.

Ashlyns School, the nearest state secondary, has special language status. It is housed in a listed building surrounded by 40 acres. Ofsted inspectors who visited in February this year reported that students attainment was above average.


The train journey into Euston from Berkhamsted Station takes just over 35 minutes.

Junction 8 of the M1 is about seven ot eight miles away and Junction 20 of the M25 is 12 miles down the road.

Luton Airport is a nine-mile drive but Clive hires a taxi. Its easier, saves the parking.


The by-pass built in the early 90s re-routed the through traffic, particularly the heavy lorries. As a result the main road through the town centre has been narrowed and the pavements widened enabling a caf society to build up in the medieval heart of Berkhamsted. It gives the modern shopping centre the character new towns lack. Theres Waitrose, Tesco, Boots and WH Smith along with a good selection of other chains and attractive boutiques. And a Saturday market.


Some families would move to Berkhamsted for The Rex cinema alone. This privately owned, beautifully restored, Art Deco grade II listed cinema attracts filmgoers from a wide radius just for the experience of the comfort factor. The BBC described it as possibly Britains most beautiful cinema.

In the stalls, the usual seating has been replaced by swivel armchairs set around small tables like a cocktail lounge. Where once there were 1,100 seats there are now 300. Seats in the gallery have much more leg room than most multiplexes.

The idea is to arrive in good time before the start of the next showing, order drinks and nibbles and settle in to enjoy the movie, same as you would at home except the phone wont ring in the middle of the film.
The good news is that cinema owner James Hannaway is planning to repeat his highly successful performance at The Rex at the old Odeon Cinema in London Road, St Albans.

How much to live here

One-bedroom maisonette: from 159,950

Two-bedroom Victorian or Edwardian cottage: about 250,000

Three-bedroom Victorian terrace: 350,000-400,000

Three-bedroom 1930s semi within walking distance of the station: high 300,000s

Large detached houses in the Gravel Path area where youd like to live when you strike it rich: 750,000-1.5m

Houses with names such as The Little Cottage in places like Little Gaddesden, 10-15 minutes drive from Berkhamsted: up to 1.75m

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