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Best of British Villages: Town & Country

Who can resist the rustic charm of the village? With their quaint cottages and cobbled streets, set within sprawling green surroundings, they have captured hearts and minds for generations.

But what is it that makes a village so special? No, it’s not the Tudor-framed houses, the delightful walled gardens or the postcard-worthy high streets – although these certainly play a big part in creating their beloved kitschy charm. Instead, it’s the palpable essence of community. These wholesome, close-knit neighbourhoods revolve around festivities in the village halls, sing-song gatherings at the local inn, and shared prayers at the parish church.

And don’t think for a second that these traditions don’t stand up in today’s modern world. Ask any villager in the United Kingdom and they’ll tell you the heart of their community still beats as loud as ever. No wonder then that the pull of village life continues to inspire couples and young families to retire from the chaos of towns and cities in search of a life more tranquil and, perhaps, more sustainable than the one they leave behind.

Let us examine some of the best examples of picturesque village havens around the United Kingdom and the residential attractions that make them so popular.

Enstone, Cotswolds

Just a few miles east of Chipping Norton, Enstone is a civil parish comprised of two handsome villages, Church Enstone and Neat Enstone, which are surrounded by with a halo of smaller hamlets including Chalford, Fulwell and Lidstone.

Named for the mysterious Ent Stone, which forms part a nearby Neolithic monument, this village can trace its origins back as far as the Norman period – meaning you won’t have to look hard to spot the fascinating historical influences it’s picked up through the ages. The village charm is alive and well in its original thatched cottages, Cotswold stone walls and winding country lanes, which still link the village together with its hamlets.

Membury, East Devon

A three-mile shimmy north-west of Axminster, Membury is at the heart of the Blackdown Hills in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A rural parish, Membury is made up of a belt of smaller hamlets – Crawley, Furley, Rock and Webble Green – all connected by a maze of ancient trackways and meandering country lanes.

Membury is also home to several historic estates including Yarty Farm House, named after the River Yarty and one-time home of the village’s bakehouse – the remains of which are still attached to the refurbished farmhouse.

Aberdovey, Wales

This peaceful little seaside village lies on the estuary of the River Dyfi in Snowdonia National Park. Long coveted for its sandy beaches and unspoilt coastline, Aberdovey went from being a nondescript fishing port, to a twee market village and eventually a bustling Victorian holiday destination after it was linked to the railway network in the 19th century.

There is little doubt that the Aberdovey locals take great pride in their historical village and splendid seafront, expressing themselves through a wealth of art and writing inspired by their coastal surroundings. Visitors can see these on display in the many local galleries, shops and tea rooms that look out to sea from the gorgeous coastal boulevard.

Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland

The distinctive Highland hills offer a dramatic backdrop to this most picturesque of Scotland’s north-west villages. A gateway to the Isle of Skye, Kyle of Lochalsh is a fairy-tale land of castles, bens and hidden lochs waiting to be discovered.

Lochalsh is loved by locals and tourists alike. With charming whitewash cottages lining the sheltered shoreline and yachts bobbing on its calm waters, it’s easy to see why this tiny harbour is a popular hang-out for artists. Come rain or shine, you’ll find them dotted along the coast, easels at the ready and brushes in hand. Visitors also delight in watching the local fishermen set out each morning to bring in the day’s catch, which can later be sampled in the many lovely local restaurants.

Hillgate Village, London

Set within the highly coveted Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, property hunters will delight at the charm of these pastel coloured Victorian terraces. Better still, despite being only a stone’s throw away from Notting Hill, Portobello Road and Hyde Park, Hillgate Village remains one of London’s best-kept secrets.

Residents can enjoy a slice of rural life as they pop down to the Saturday farmer’s market, shop along the boutique high-street and grab some treats at any of the independent cafes and restaurants – all slap bang in the middle of London. Indeed, the way of life is 100% village here, making this enchanting London sanctuary truly unique and special.

Chilmington Lakes, Kent

A so-called ‘New Village’, Chilmington Lakes is the latest phase in a rural regeneration scheme by Hodson Developments, introducing a number of new garden villages to the Kent area. Scenically positioned in the idyllic Kent countryside, the village offers a variety of elegant homes in a stunning rural location. It stands ready to welcome young families, especially those going in search of the rural lifestyle without wanting to give up the comfort of modern amenities.

Along with a variety of new build homes, which have been designed to blend seamlessly with the local vernacular, the Chilmington Lakes development will also include a shopping centre, leisure centre, restaurants, coffee shops and both a primary and secondary school – all for the convenience of its residents.

View our previous articles on the future of homes in the town and country, or discover your new village home using our property search.

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