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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

Large pine trees Wokefield Common Mortimer

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.

 

Education, education

ELSTREE co ed prep school Berkshire grand mansion acres of playing fields and woodlans

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.

 

Hang outs

Red brick victorian pub The Red Lion Mortimer Berkshire

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.

Heckfield Place cinema room circular ceiling lights plush orange velvet cinema seats

Want a bit more pizzazz? Hold on to your hats, celeb eco party palace Heckfield Place is just six miles away. Harry and Meghan babymooned here, and Liv Tyler, Jemima Kidd and Cara Delevigne have all had a sleepover. The expensive-looking decor and former Petersham Nurseries chef, Skye Gyngall’s field-to-fork food are big draws. But there’s nothing too shabby about the luxurious private cinema and boutique spa.

In love with local

Beautiful EScape Retreat hair and beauty salon Mortimer Berkshire nail bench chairs baskets of polish

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.

Wellington Farm Shop and Cafe dark green painted exterior Berkshire Hampahire border Wellington Estate

What is doesn’t have is decent del, although it does have a small store for emergency essentials. But before you hit the panic button over a lack of sour dough bread and artisan cheese, Wellington Farm Shop & Cafe is four miles away (another Muddy Award winner, just saying) and you’ll find high quality produce with low food miles, and a cafe that’ll bust the waistband.

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.

The Tower House Mortimer 5 bed detached house

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.

The Tower House Living room woodburner bay window

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.

 

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