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Flock and awe: 5 of the best villages

Fancy knowing everyone in a one-mile radius? On a first-name basis? Then village life is for you. We've found five of the best Berkshire villages to start your search.

Pandemic trends have come and gone. No, we don’t miss knitting, sourdough starters, banana loaf or Joe Wicks’ PE lessons, but our desire to move to the country is going nowhere. Working from home is now the norm, even if it is part time, so rural life with its abundance of great schools, cosy country pubs and Turner-esque views are just too goddam appealing.

The great news is that Berkshire is close enough to the Big Smoke to dip your toe in city living for work and play once your taken the leap into the rural unknown. Berkshire’s even made it onto the tube map… even though the much-delayed opening of CrossRail won’t happen until 2022.

But where to buy, we asked the peeps at local estate agent Haslams for their top five villages for a lovely life in the Berkshire countryside…

SONNING

Sonning river bridge

Hello beautiful! This picturesque village, home to George and Amal Clooney, Jimmy Page and Theresa May, is a hotspot for the brunch brigade and weekend walkers, plus it holds the gravitas of a charming Thameside location famously called “the most fairy-like little nook on the whole river”. There are a number of sprawling properties along the banks of the Thames and generous family homes and smaller characterful cottages further in the village. The village is in high demand, with adjacent villages benefiting from the bolstered property prices.

Haslams says: “Properties in Sonning tend to be some of the most sought-after luxury homes within the Greater Reading area.”

Muddy says: “Come on, look at that river view! It’s gorgeous (with the premium price tag to prove it). What price can you put on having celebrity neighbours and a superb choice of the state and independent schools?

CAVERSHAM

Caversham footbridge nr Reading Berkshire

Is it a village or a suburb? Well, it was originally a village founded in the Middle Ages that’s probably been scooped up by Reading over the years. As the river still separates it, so we’ll allow it. Ideal for families thanks to the fantastic number of schools (both independent and state), Caversham features a diverse range of property types from larger homes perched in the Warren area overlooking the Thames, to the traditional Victorian terraced houses near the village centre. Enjoy walks along the river, boating or rowing, golf or be a part of one of the many social activities that take place at Christchurch Meadows. 

Haslams says: “Caversham is the family-friendly gateway to Oxfordshire.”

Muddy says: “Commuter convenience with a buzzy community vibe. Think lovely riverside park, cool cafés, indie shops and Reading train station is within staggering distance.”

PANGBOURNE

Pangbourne Hill Church Cottage

A village that has inspired literary giants. Pangbourne is really popular with families, couples and retirees for its vibrant and active community, with a hub of indie shops, restaurants and charming pubs. It ticks all the boxes for Berkshire property seachers looking for a river location, good schools, speedy train service to London via Great Western Rail. A short drive down a country road to the M4 and you’re surrounded by countryside without the inconvenience of being cut off. 

Haslams says: “Haslams have been selling and letting homes in Pangbourne for years and it never fails to be in high demand. Commuters are quick to gravitate to the area, thanks to a charming reputation and quick links into nearby urban locations.”

Muddy says: “If you’re not in the mood to compromise, Pangbourne is practically perfect in every way. London and Oxford are a train ride away.”

ABORFIELD GREEN

Aborfield Green horses

Just outside of Reading and moments from Wokingham, is the new community of Arborfield Green. Evolving from a small residential area into a new garden village with fantastic schools and local amenities, the village is surrounded by peaceful countryside. There are a number of homes available to buyers including 2 and 3 bedroom properties at Waterman’s Reach by Crest Nicholson which are fantastic opportunities for first time buyers and families. 

Haslams says: “Arborfield Green is a fantastic new community situated in the former Remount Depot and Horse Infirmary, where the British Army cared for and trained horses between 1887 and 1942. Today residents can benefit from the very best of countryside living with the convenience of modern luxuries. A must-see is the incredible life-size Arborfield Horses sculpture, a magnificent tribute to its past!”

Muddy says: “Welcome to Hollywood. Henry Cavill has been filming Netflix drama The Witcher at Aborfield Studios and Will Smith was there filming Aladdin. So this new village is a star in the making.”

HURST

Hurst Lodge

On the outskirts of Reading, towards Twyford and Maidenhead is the quiet village of Hurst. With Dinton Pastures (home of the Marvellous Festival) on the doorstep, as well as a couple of great locals and plenty of community activities to get involved with, Hurst is becoming a popular choice for movers. Hurst is home to a den of village pubs and a butchers. 

Haslams says: “We recently brought to market a new collection of homes in Hurst called Nursery Gardens and they have been incredibly popular with local buyers and people who are seeking a better work/life balance in a rural location.”

Muddy says: Five pubs, a gorgeous local vineyard, whizzy commute from Twyford and the annual Hobby Horse Competition will have you galloping on your imaginary steed to this Berkshire property hotspot.

Haslams have been serving the Reading community and its surrounding towns and villages, such as Pangbourne and Tilehurst, for nearly 200 years. If you’re considering a move get in touch by email or phone 0118 960 1000.

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