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Press

In The Sunday Times Home section...

My £1million light bulb moment - Click here to view the article


Why the owners of the world’s best B&B are calling it a night Click here to view the article


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On the Market in Living North magazine...

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In the February 2015 Yorkshire Post...

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In the Yorkshire Post...

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In The Times... The growing appeal of the village house

Rural communities are seeing a growing influx of homebuyers drawn to the security and satisfaction of village life John and Bridget Dawson love the North Yorkshire village of Burton Leonard so much they are selling up and moving — to another house in the village. The Dawsons, who are both in their seventies, have lived in a prominent Georgian property overlooking the village green for 27 years. Nikolaus Pevsner called their home, Oakwood House, the “superior house in the middle of the village”. Now its four bedrooms, numerous outbuildings and walled garden of around 1/3 of an acre have become rather too large for their needs, so the couple are keen to find a smaller home nearby.

“Living here is all about quality of life,” says Bridget, who worked in nearby Harrogate as an occupational therapist before her retirement. “There is less traffic, more space. Yet in a village we are not in isolation. All the children say hello on their way to school in the morning, elderly people stay put and we all pull together to look after each other. We looked in Ripon, but we decided we wanted to stay here.”

Her husband, who was in the building trade in Leeds, lists the many local activities his family have been involved in over the years. These include the church, sports clubs, history society, WI, and amateur dramatics. The Dawsons’ son, Patrick, who was 18 when his parents relocated from Harrogate, took up am-dram himself and it sparked his successful career in stage management. His elder sisters, Rachel and Jessica, both held their wedding receptions at home in the garden. “Everybody knows of us, because of the house,” says John.

The warmth with which the Dawsons talk about their home at the heart of things is inspiring. And across the country, a similar motivation is behind a new influx of homebuyers keen on the security and satisfaction of a village house. From the Cotswolds to Northumberland, the search for quality of life with everything on hand is bringing new vigour to villages that were in danger of turning into dormant weekend retreats. A good village house therefore represents a sound investment. As such, it will attract a premium. Oakwood House is on the market for £950,000. Yet only six miles away in Ripon, a similar double-fronted Georgian house, overlooking the canal and within walking distance of Ripon Grammar School, is on the market for just £450,000 (Andrew Hill, 01423 528528, andrewhill.co)

The Dawsons’ selling agent, Deborah Mitchell, of Buchanan Mitchell in Harrogate, says much of the appeal of North Yorkshire villages such as Burton Leonard lies in their location. “For relocators in particular, living somewhere like that is a taste of the country without it really being in the country,” she says. “There is also the fact that these kinds of houses are easier and more economical to manage than big country estates. And then there’s school fees — we’re seeing a lot of people wanting to put their children in a good state village primary first to save money.” Proximity to affluent Harrogate, with its high-end shopping, bars and entertainment, is a key influence for buyers. “You’re also looking at good bus routes,” says Deborah. “A lot of parents don’t want to be ferrying their teenagers in and out of Harrogate, so reliable public transport is important.”

Such is the demand for village houses, Jason King, a co-founder of Foundation Property Services in Brenley, near Faversham in Kent, has become a specialist in the field. He, too, has seen a discernible change in potential buyers in the past three or four years. “We’re seeing a reduction in people buying as second homes. What you’ve got more recently is the migration buyer from London,” he says. “They are selling fairly standard houses for £600,000 to £800,000, and they can get a huge amount for their money around here.”

Although access to road and rail networks is important to these buyers as well, the house comes before location, says King. “It is far more property-driven,” he says. “Buyers for village properties in Kent are prepared to search a very large area, and they are forgiving. They maybe think they want to live in a village near Faversham and end up on the other side of Canterbury. What they are searching for is village life, and a property which reflects that.”

He also says there are more younger buyers from London, including those seeking their first home but who are priced out of the capital. “More flexible hours and cloud-based working mean that it’s easier for people to live here and work too,” he says. “It’s interesting to note that the major property portals now list internet speed on the houses they advertise. We find this is becoming an increasingly important factor with village buyers.”

This sits alongside more traditional factors, such as good local schools and convenient shops, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated. “In Storrington in West Sussex, Waitrose is a big draw for buyers,” says Harriet Coates, residential sales manager at Henry Adams estate agents. She agrees that buyers — be they couples, families or downsizers — will pay a premium for a location right in the centre of the village.

Inevitably, the best houses sell quickly, or exchange hands privately, so buyers should get to know the area and cultivate the reliable agents to ensure they get first pick. And although the perfect village house may be a dream for many, some urbanites are understandably wary. Privacy is a concern. Not to mention worries about fitting in to an established community. No one wants to be reminded of the filmHot Fuzz — which stars Simon Pegg as a Metropolitan Police officer seconded to the incestuous (and fictional) Gloucestershire village of Sandford — every time they open their front door.

The advice from Coates is to do plenty of research before falling in love with the first village house you see. “To find the right village, talk to the local agents about what you’re looking for, not just in terms of the house but in terms of the lifestyle as well,” she says. “Then it’s worth driving around to the different villages in your chosen area and going in to the shops, having a meal in the local pub and talking to locals to see if you, too, might enjoy living there.”

Oakwood House is for sale with Buchanan Mitchell, 01423 360055, buchananmitchell.com

What makes a good village

  • Well-regarded primary school
  • Pub
  • Post office
  • Well-stocked local shop/small supermarket
  • Sports facilities
  • Clubs and societies
  • Proximity to major roads/railway network
  • Reliable bus service
  • Decent broadband
  • Employment opportunities locally
  • Active church

Village houses for sale

West View, Skelton on Ure, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, £750,000

A four-bedroom Georgian house, mixing traditional features with a contemporary interior. The bustling town of Boroughbridge is nearby, and the village has good local amenities including primary school, shop and pub. Direct trains from Thirsk, 13 miles away, to London King’s Cross.

Contact Buchanan Mitchell, 01423 360055, buchananmitchell.com


In the Yorkshire Post...

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In The Times...

It’s the new way to hide what you’re worth. Sell your house privately, without advertising or even a sign outside, and no one will know how much it’s on the market for. The neighbours won’t have anything to gossip about. There will be no dinner-party maths about how much it’s gained in value — or lost — since you bought it. Time-wasters won’t come sniffing round...

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In The Northern Echo...

As College House, a Grade II-listed property in Masham, North Yorkshire, goes on the market, Ruth Addicott reveals its extraordinary story. When Clayton Moore began restoring College House, he had no idea it formed part of a puzzle that had stumped historians for years. It wasn’t until he started ripping out walls and came across ancient doorways and fireplaces that he discovered it dated back to the 12th Century...

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In The Ripon Gazette...

In the property world, age is often very a good thing. Old properties are usually built from local materials, so they tend to blend comfortably into their surroundings. They’re also solid enough to have withstood the rigours of time and have been mellowed by centuries of sun, wind, frost and rain. They have a degree of character that new properties struggle to match, because it comes from a sense of timelessness...

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In The Northern Echo...

ONCE a Victorian school, The School House is today a magnificently converted and restored family home that combines a wealth of original features with a unique character and fabulous location. At the heart of this beautifully presented, light and spacious home is a stunning galleried sitting room with imposing floor-to-ceiling arched window, exposed beams and an open fireplace...

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In The Darlington and Stockton Times...

ONCE a Victorian school, The School House is today a magnificently converted and restored family home that combines a wealth of original features with a unique character and fabulous location. At the heart of this beautifully presented, light and spacious home is a stunning galleried sitting room with imposing floor-to-ceiling arched window, exposed beams and an open fireplace...

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