Berkshire’s new property hotspot
River location, great schools, indie shops a gogo and you can whizz into London in less than an hour. Pangbourne's ticking all the boxes.
Looking to move out of London or just want good links to the capital’s culture and cocktail bars? Then you know your house hunt is all about location, location, location. Phil and Kirsty really did know what they were talking about – and Pangbourne should be on your hit list, because it’s hot hot hot.
A large village on the river Thames, Pangbourne is six miles west of Reading, and the perfect place for urbanites to dip their toe in rural waters. Not so remote that you’ll lose your mind, but there’s enough fun on your doorstep to keep you busy.
If you’re a literary fan you’ll get a kick out of the fact Wind In The Willows author Kenneth Grahame lived at Church Cottage, EH Shepard, the talent behind the Wind In The Willows illustrations, used this stretch of river as inspo for his work. DH Lawrence also stayed here and The Swan pub, played a starring role in Jerome K Jerome’s famous Victorian comedy Three Men In A Boat when they ‘messed around a bit’ and ended their famous journey at the pub.
Why it’s hot
It’s catnip for commuters. The speedy GWR service will whizz you into Paddington in just 47 minutes – and we haven’t even mentioned the C word. CROSSRAIL! Set to launch at the end of 2019, the Elizabeth Line will make commuting even easier, flying into Liverpool Street in an hour. Hello, old London Town. Word of warning an annual season ticket including London Underground will set you back £5,468. It’s also 40 minutes to Oxford by train, 10 minutes to Reading and you’re 5 minutes from J12 of the M4. If you fancy jetting off for the weekend, you can be at Heathrow in 40 minutes. Grab your passport and go.
You’re spoilt for choice for good schools. If you’re going down the independent route, St Andrew’s Prep (attended by the Duchess of Cambridge) is a lively, family-orientated school with lots of space for kids to let of steam and Pangbourne College is incredibly popular with parents for it’s reputation as a good all rounder, emphasis on joining in and good manners. The two local primaries, Pangbourne and Whitchurch-On-Thames, are both rated ‘good’ by Ofsted.
There’s no shortage of pubs either. The Swan at Pangbourne, has an enviable position on the river. In fact, you can’t get much closer to the Thames without getting wet. On sunny days, nab a table on the terrace and watch the Boaty McBoatfaces pootle up and down. If you’re hankering for a pimped up Porterhouse, The Elephant’s steak restaurant, The Herd, should hit the spot. Not forgetting The Cross Keys which is a good village pub.
Want a bit more pizzazz? There’s plenty of that too. A new boutique hotel and private members’ club is bring developed at The Grotto, just outside Pangbourne. It’ll be a while before we get shimmy through the doors, but with the creative bods behind London’s Devonshire Club and The Curtain, transforming this riverside wreck, it’ll be nothing short of spectacular when it’s completed. In the meantime, The Swan at Streatley – a boutique hotel, restaurant, gym and event space – is in the final stages of a massive refurbishment, and will fully reopen in the summer with a Coppa Club. Looking for a Michelin twinkler? The Blackbird, The Woodspeen and L’Ortolan are all nearby.
Shop til you drop
If you love shopping independents, then Pangbourne’s going to be right up your street. There’s an award-winning cheese shop, bakery and butchers, plus an organic deli, on the food front. There are two gorgeous florists – Green Parlour (owner Emma was involved in both the Kate and Pippa Middleton’s weddings) and the very creative Ruby & Grace.
For gorgeous gifts, I love lifestyle shop Kiki & Bow which is a treasure trove of homewares and unique French fashion labels. Pankhurst Cycles is one of the best bike shops in the south and Woodborough House Dental Practice (celeb spotting is always fun here) will keep your pearly whites white.
Where to buy?
The centre’s a higgledy-piggledy mix of old and new, Victorian terraces giving on to tile-hung town houses, then late Victorian and Edwardian piles. If you’re after a riverside setting or hilltop view, they rarely come onto the market so you’ll have to be faster than Dina Asher-Smith.
It’s definitely worth having a look at Breedon Place – named after a type of apple native to Pangers – it’s a small development of 25 luxury family homes within walking distance of the train station (saving you a daily £5 parking fee) as well all the pubs (no taxi required here) and shops. Although close to the village, the 3- and 5-beds, built by Millgate Homes, are surrounded by open countryside and have been cleverly designed to create sociable spaces that just work whether you have kids, plan to have them or love impromptu get togethers with the gang.
New builds may not be everyone’s dream at first, but when you live in a dark, drafty cottage (er, that be me then), the underfloor heating, soft-close luxury Shaker kitchen, new Siemans appliances and Villeroy & Boch bathrooms sound really really appealing. I haven’t even mentioned the dressing room yet. Yup, you can go all Carrie Bradshaw and bring Sex To The Country… so very 2019. It nails modern living and if this is your first move out into a semi-rural area, you’ll be grateful for having neighbours. Prices start at £895,000.
Why we love it
The river location, the great schools, indie shops and the freaking awesome train line into London.