Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Royal Seal of Approval for City Boasting History, Culture and Literary Connections; spotlightwinchesterThe Area Is Popular with Young Families Who Are Not Put off by a Lengthy Commute to the Capital. Anthea Masey Finds out More

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Royal Seal of Approval for City Boasting History, Culture and Literary Connections; spotlightwinchesterThe Area Is Popular with Young Families Who Are Not Put off by a Lengthy Commute to the Capital. Anthea Masey Finds out More

Article excerpt

Byline: Anthea Masey

AS EVERY schoolchild knows, Alfred was the king who burnt the cakes. But in the city of Winchester in Hampshire the great Saxon monarch is a hero and his statue stands warlike at the top of the high street.

Following the excitement surrounding the discovery of the skeleton of Richard III under a Leicester car park, there are moves in Winchester to identify the remains of King Alfred -- with one set of likely bones recently exhumed from an unmarked grave in St Bartholomew's Church and taken to a secret storage facility to protect them from grave robbers.

Winchester lies 70 miles south-west of London, close to the M3 motorway. This historic city is home to a great Norman cathedral with the longest nave in the country, it's where King Arthur's round table has been on display for 700 years, and it is the final resting place of novelist Jane Austen.

Winchester College is at the heart of the city. Founded in the 14th century, its ancient buildings, playing fields and surrounding water meadows give Winchester a quiet and tranquil quarter a few steps away from the busy high street.

WHAT THERE IS TO BUY Winchester is surrounded by hills, so many of its best districts have homes with views over the city. Leafy St Cross to the south of the city centre is the premier neighbourhood. It has a mix of Regency, early and mid-Victorian houses which can sell for as much as [pounds sterling]3 million. Jackson-Stops & Staff has a five-bedroom detached red-brick Victorian house on the market for [pounds sterling]1.2 million (visit homesandproperty.co.uk/christchurch) and Savills has a five-bedroom semi-detached house for sale for [pounds sterling]1.25 million (details at homes andproperty.co.uk/christchurchroad). Both properties are on Christchurch Road.

A stiff walk up to the top of St Giles Hill to the east of the centre is rewarded with the best view of the city's heart. The private estate is characterised by green verges and rows of severely pollarded trees, and the large Victorian detached houses here sell for in excess of [pounds sterling]1 million.

To the west of the city centre, Oram's Arbour, the area around Clifton Road, has its fans. The feeling is more intimate here, with a mix of small and large Georgian and early Victorian houses, villas and cottages. The best houses in Clifton Road -- they rarely come on to the market, though -- would sell for [pounds sterling]1 million-plus. Hyde, to the north of the city centre,is the area where young families congregate. There are streets of well-maintained Victorian semidetached houses and terraces close to Hyde Abbey Gardens and the leisure centre, where prices start at around [pounds sterling]500,000.

The area attracts: people who work in London are not deterred by the commute.

They come here to live in a small, attractive city close to the coast and surrounded by beautiful countryside and villages. The schools are a big attraction, both private and state. Staying power: estate agent Steven Moore from Savills says a house in one of the best neighbourhoods of Winchester is often a family home which people stay in for many years. "This can lead to a severe lack of houses to sell," he says.

What's new: CALA homes has outline planning permission to build 2,000 new homes at Barton Farm on the northern edge of the city. Some 40 per cent of the homes will be affordable and there will be a new primary school and a park-and-ride facility. The application faced strong local opposition.

More welcome is recent news that the local council has permission to start buying up properties in the run-down Silver Hill area of the centre of Winchester, which will be redeveloped with a mix of new shops and homes.

The largest current new homes development is Redrow's Abbots Walk (01962 808122) to the north of the city centre. Here, 90 homes (40 per cent affordable through Sentinel Housing Association) are being built for completion in summer next year, with prices ranging from [pounds sterling]229,950 for a one-bedroom flat to [pounds sterling]629,950 for a five-bedroom detached house. …

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