Sunday, 1 January 2012

Star homes: the top ten UK celebrity villages

Take a closer look at our most picturesque villages and you’ll see flocks of footballers, actors and models nestling in the undergrowth. With that in mind, we went in search of England’s top ten

Over and above the benefits of rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous over a pint at your local, having a celebrity neighbour in your village could actually increase the selling price of your home by five to ten per cent.
That’s the estimate of Simon Ashwell, Head of Savills Weybridge who says the buzz created by celebrities drives his local market.  “Does it add to the area? I would say, yes, it does,” he concludes. 
It’s a view shared by Knight Frank’s Judith Archer, used to handling celebs buying north Cotswolds bolt-holes from her office in Stratford-upon-Avon.  “It does make the areas more sought after, more fashionable…it adds that element of being a bit exclusive,” she says. “It’s amazing how word of someone living in an area can get around."
Most celebrity villages are clustered around beautiful well-connected areas that would attract a high price tag, but both Archer and Ashwell note that in the current market, homes with celebrity appeal are easier to sell.
Here’s out pick of England’s top celebrity villages in which to buy.
1. Kingham
Voted England’s perfect village several times over, Kingham, near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, is home to former Blur guitarist-turned-cheese-maker Alex James. Called Notting-on-the-Hill by locals, this unspoilt spot, with two hotels, one shop, and an excellent village pub, The Plough, is unique among villages in the district because of its direct train link to London. Daylesford Organic, grocer to stars like Kate Moss, Jeremy Clarkson and Liz Hurley living in nearby Cotswolds villages, is on the outskirts.
2. Alderley Edge, Cheshire
Alderley Edge in Cheshire, bristles with footballers and wags such as Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry. Named after The Edge, the National Trust owned cliffs that offer fantastic views across Cheshire and Manchester, it forms part of the Golden Triangle of villages that includes Knutsford and Hale popular with football stars like Mikael Sivestre, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, and Wes Brown.
3. Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire
Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, near High Wycombe and Rickmansworth, is close to Pinewood and Elstree Studios,  Eton and Heathrow are a stone’s throw away and the train to London’s Marylebone is 30 minutes from nearby wealthy Gerrard’s Cross. The village takes in Chalfont St Giles and Little Chalfont, and is also the gateway to the Chiltern Hills. Noel Gallagher, Fern Britten, Cilla Black, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and Ozzy Ozbourne all have homes close by.
4. Bucklebury, Berkshire
Bucklebury, Berkshire, leapt into the spotlight when Wills married Kate. It’s the home of Michael and Carole Middleton but its wooded country lanes are thick with secretive multi-millionaires who retreat to this beautiful country setting to ensure their anonymity. Other well-known figures who live close by include John Madjeski, Chris Tarrant, Kate Bush and Melinda Messenger.
5. Cobham, Surrey
If you visit Starbucks in Cobham, Surrey, on any given morning, you’re bound to see a Chelsea footballer – or a wag.  Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourhino stipulated players should live no further than fifteen minutes from the club’s football practise ground and it’s a legacy that continues today.  Dubbed England’s Beverly Hills, along with nearby Oxshott, the area is home to Frank Lampard and John Terry, as well as Eamonn Holmes, Andy Murray, Freddie Flintoff and Peter Andre.
6. St Georges Hill, Surrey
Up the road, St Georges Hill, Surrey, attracts a different sort of set.  In the 1960s it was a great escape for John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Cliff Richard, Elton John and Tom Jones.  These days the 3.9km squared private estate is full of Russian oligarchs and Bollywood stars, not to mention City financiers – former HSBC boss Michael Geoghan lives there, as well various telecommunications chiefs. With excellent connections to London, Heathrow and the countryside, it’s an ideal hideout for a high-flyer.
7. Walberswick
Walberswick, a tiny, picturesque fishing village in out of the way Suffolk, is the ideal location for celebs escaping the limelight. Linked to neighbouring Southwold by a footbridge spanning the River Blyth, it’s been a bolthole for screenwriter Richard Curtis, (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually) and partner Emma Freud. Michael Palin started up Southwold Electric Picture Palace and Twiggy, Gary Lineker, Griff Rhys Jones, Alan Rickman and Bill Nighy have homes in the area. 
8. West Wittering, West Sussex
With a beach hut fetching £60,000 from local resident Keith Richards a few years ago, West Wittering, West Sussex, is firmly on the celeb-friendly map. The beautiful seaside town 6.5 miles south of Chichester is loved for its long sandy beach and Nicholas Lyndhurst and Michael Ball also live in the village. Inland, nearby Midhurst and Pulborough are thick with polo ponies and sports cars, not to mention secretive celebs, who flock to these villages with views of the South Downs and good connections to London and Gatwick airport.
9. Salcombe, Devon
Everyone loves a good beach house and there are few better places to be on the Devon coast than Salcombe. Be prepared to cough up £500,000, though.  That’s the average house price in this quaint spot, beloved by Sir Michael Parkinson, Kate Bush and Sir Clive Woodward, making it one of the most expensive places to live in England outside London.
10.  Ponteland, Northumberland
Newcastle footballers head to Ponteland, Northumberland one of England’s wealthiest villages, just on the outskirts of Newscastle-upon-Tyne.  Darrass Hall is the exclusive estate to which the likes of Alan Shearer, Chris Morgan and Steven Taylor flock. Meanwhile, further north, Pippa Middleton could be bringing along the Glosse Posse when she visits her old flame George Percy, son of the Duke of Northumberland, at Alnwick Castle.

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