An under-the-radar property hotspot
Surrounded by open countryside, five-star fun at your fingertips and you can get to London in under an hour. Mortimer's flirting with home-buying hotties right now..
Looking to escape to the country, but want an under-the-radar location where property prices won’t have you reaching for the smelling salts? No problemo, my home-seeking hotties. We get around (the county, I’m not that kinda gal) and tend to get a bit giddy when we stumble across a bit of Berkshire that doesn’t get have all the fanfare of our riverside villages that famous authors wax lyrical about.
Say hello to Mortimer, one of the oldest villages in the UK – it’s mentioned in the Domesday Book, once owned by Roger de Mortimer (1st Earl of March), a man who almost got his mitts on the English throne only for the family to lose their land (not their heads) to one of Henry VIII’s wives. Blimey Horrible Histories would have field day.
Why it’s hot
You’ll have fun at our fingertips. It has a train station (a big tick), whizzing you into Reading or Basingstoke in 10 mins or rattle into the Big Smoke in under an hour, plus Crossrail will be with us soon, they just need to clear the leaves on the tracks. But that’s not all, Mortimer’s proximity to luxury loafing is pretty darn impressive. Heckfield Place is just six miles away – posh nosh, sexy spa and celebrity spotting heaven. You’re surrounded by stunning countryside – Starvale Woods, Wokefield Common and Holden Firs, great for walking, biking or riding. Wasing Estate is down the road for a wellbeing/yoga time out and there are Michelin star restaurants aplenty. Or grab your passport and break for the Brexit border. You can get to Heathrow in 45 minutes and the world’s your lobster.
Berkshire’s bursting at the seams with good schools, so take your pick. There’s a good state nursery, infant and junior school in the village, but if you’re disappearing down the independent rabbit hole, then you’re surrounded by superb prep schools like Cedars in Aldermaston, just 10 minutes down the road and co-ed Elstree certainly has the wow factor – grand mansion, 150 acres, high achieving and sporty. It’s a short drive, but oh so worth it. Got older kids? You’re in catchment for outstanding secondary The Willink or pay your money and take your choice – Bradfield College, Leighton Park, Downe House and Sherfield School are all nearby.
No shortage of pubs on your doorstep, The Red Lion has country pub vibes and a menu to match or venture to The Elm Tree or The Wellington Arms for crowd-pleasing dishes and craft beers. If you’re after more of a foodie experience, you’re in a gastro hot spot, sample Chef Tom Clarke’s fine dining dishes at L’Ortolan – Reading’s only Michelin star restaurant or sample top chef Daniel Galmiche’s game menu at the newly-furbished Pot Kiln in Frilsham (one of Kate and William’s favourite hangouts when their visiting Ma and Pa Middleton.
In love with local
While we’re all about luxury, we love local too. Mortimer is not a hotbed of chichi independents, but you will find Muddy award-winning beauty salon Beautiful Escape Retreat, a florist, bakery/cafe, Adam & Eve Hair Salon, and a theatre and dance academy, plus the curiously names Dads Shop – missing an apostrophe but a mecca for DIYers. So if you’re carb-loading jazz hander who loves home improvement, you’ll be clicking your heels.
Where to buy?
The centre’s a higgledy-piggledy mix of styles – quaint cottages, Seventies and Eighties builds, grander period piles, and sympathetic new builds. There’s an impressive detached 1910 six-bedder on the market for offers in excess of £1.25million, with stacks of original features if you have Downton Abbey aspirations – albeit on a small scale.
If fear an old property will be a money pit of endless maintenance, take a look at The Tower House – it’s a small development of 17 two, three, four and five-bedroom homes within walking distance of the local shops and schools. The train station is a 20 minute yomp, but speedier by bike or car.
New builds may not be everyone’s cuppa tea, but these homes have been designed with modern living in mind – bifold doors, contemporary bathrooms and kitchens, but with those ‘Escape To The Country’ features we all obsess over like sash windows, log burners and a porch – all made from the latest materials. There ain’t nothing quaint about an heirloom Aga or fire when it breaks down and you see the repair bill. Prices from £385,000 to £925,000.
Why we love it
Stunning countryside, great schools, within throwing distance of five star fun and freaking awesome train links to London, Reading and Basingstoke.