Strain of the Train Buys Life on the Plain

Article excerpt

Byline: JANE HUGHES

SALISBURY

Wherever you go in Salisbury you'll never be far from the sound of running water as the city sits at the confluence of five rivers. Yet Salisbury was originally sited at the waterless hilltop fort of Old Sarum.

It was only in the 13th Century that Salisbury and its cathedral were rebuilt in the valley.

Today, the River Avon runs through the medieval heart of the city and across the water meadows that stretch beyond the elegant Gothic cathedral which was a favourite haunt of landscape painter John Constable.

To the west are the valleys of Chalke, Nadder and Wylie, and the River Bourne flows down from the north-east.

Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest spire in Britain. In Thomas Hardy's Jude The Obscure, it was the fictional cathedral of Melchester and for the film Sense And Sensibility it became a London square.

The Guildhall, rebuilt in 1795, and shopping streets such as Fish Row and Butchers Row, are a focal point. Salisbury had a medieval wool trade. Between the 16th and 19th Centuries it was a papermaking centre.

Much of the period housing stock is Victorian terraces. In the southern ward of Harnham, a good-quality four-bedroom house starts at [pounds sterling]400,000. At Bishopdown Farm, north of the city, 900 new homes have been built.

New building has been limited, as much of the Wiltshire Downs is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there are also restrictions on the flood plains.

Richard Lanyon, 45, a chartered surveyor with Ian Scott Interntional, wife Sam, 40, and daughter-Elli, 14, moved to Chalke Valley-ten years ago. Richard commutes to his Berkeley Square office four days a week and works at home on Fridays.

'There are occasional problems with the trains and it can get tiring. But working at home on a Friday has made a huge difference,' says Richard.

The Lanyons have spent eight years doing up their converted barn home. 'We are right on the downs with wonderful views across to the cathedral,' he says.

'The schools are great and Elli is a keen horserider. We rely on a car but getting around is much easier when you don't have to deal with London's congestion.' In the pretty meadows of the Woodford Valley, where rock star Sting owns a riverside manor, a four-bedroom family home with big garden and river frontage will cost at least [pounds sterling]500,000.

PORTON [pounds sterling]220,000 Semidetached,three-bedroom Grade II listed thatched cottage.Needs modernising but has two beamed reception rooms and garden.Agent:Woolley & Wallis,01722 424524.

DOWNTON [pounds sterling]525,000 Part of a large Victorian country house,this seven-bedroom property has many original features, two reception rooms, a study and pool.Agent:Woolley & Wallis,01722 424524.

STATE OF THE MARKET

'There is a shortage of property, which is keeping prices high and competitively priced homes are selling quickly.' JOHN SAVAGE, ASSOCIATE PARTNER,WOOLLEY & WALLIS.

'Not a lot of properties are coming on to the market, but there is interest from people wishing to escape London's rat race. …