Living the charmed life
Sitting happily and prosperously between the Thames and the wild open spaces of Putney Heath, Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park, Putney is a charmed part of south-west London. At the top of the hill there was once a telegraph station that transmitted messages from Portsmouth to the Admiralty in London during the Napoleonic wars. At the Telegraph pub in Putney, and also at the cricket ground, you could almost be in the heart of the country.
A walk along the riverbank passes through pretty parks; a new riverside piazza; the starting point for the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race, and a quiet corner where the water laps over the towpath towards a ramshackle row of boathouses.
It is hard to believe that this wealthy suburb was once the centre of the radical Putney Debates. These historic hearings were held in 1647 in St Mary’s, the church close to Putney Bridge, between the radical levellers and generals from Cromwell’s New Model Army, an event now celebrated with a permanent exhibition in the church.
Today, Putney is a Tory stronghold and its MP, Justine Greening, the shadow minister for London, is a rising star with a strong local following. James French at estate agents Douglas & Gordon, who grew up in Putney, says the area attracts families who want the best of both worlds. “Putney is the nearest thing to country living without moving out of London, and it has a good choice of great schools.”
Lowdown on Putney
The area attracts: Couples seeking large houses where they and their children can put down long-term roots.
Staying power: Once settled in Putney, families tend to stay.
Best postcodes: Putney is in SW15.
Best streets: There are 12 conservation areas. For those drawn to the riverside setting, the two best roads are Deodar Road and Ruvigny Gardens on either side of Putney Bridge. Almost uniquely in London, some of the houses in Deodar Road run down directly to the Thames.
For those who like the rural aspect of Putney, the best road is Lower Common South where there are large, detached Victorian houses dating from the 1880s. Houses here sell for around £2 million and the most expensive went for £4.4 million — one of the highest prices ever for a house in Putney.
Even more rural is Putney Heath, at the top of Putney Hill, from where you can walk for miles through the woods and the open spaces of the heath itself and the connecting Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park.
This area is dominated by three mansion blocks: Manor Fields, Wildcroft Manor and Highlands Heath. In Bowling Green Close there are a number of Thirties Modern Movement houses. Moonside, designed by Thomas Wallis, the architect of the Hoover building on the Great West Road, is currently for sale through Hamptons (020 8780 0077) for £2.25 million. The most expensive house on the market now in Putney is in Bristol Gardens, a crescent of large, detached houses. Savills (020 8780 9900) is selling this seven-bedroom house for £4.95 million.
West Putney and, more specifically, the area south of Richmond Road, is more popular than East Putney — the area between Putney Hill and West Hill. West Putney has a mixture of large, late-Victorian and Edwardian houses. This is a good place to find large family houses and converted flats. The most expensive houses are the “medallion houses” in Gwendolen Avenue, where prices start at £2.5 million and have gone as high as £4.4 million, a price equalled only by Lower Common South.
Up-and-coming areas: The Rusholme Road conservation area takes in a section of West Hill and a number of surrounding streets of mainly Edwardian detached and semi-detached houses. While expensive, prices are still cheaper than in West Putney. The Dover Court Estate, east of Roehampton Lane, a former LCC cottage estate, is cheaper than anywhere else in Putney. Expect to pay £350,000 for a three-bedroom house.
What’s new: Putney Square is a large development of 210, studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and penthouses on the site of the old South Thames College on Putney Hill by Barratt (020 8326 7171), for completion in autumn next year. Housing association A2Dominion (0800 783 2159) will be selling the 54 affordable flats.
Schools: Four of the best state primaries are in West Putney. They are: Hotham, St Mary’s CofE, Our Lady of Victories RC and All Saints CofE. A fifth — Brandlehow — is in East Putney. Lion House, Putney Park, Prospect House and Hurlingham are the local prep schools. The best state secondary is Ashcroft Technology College, judged “outstanding” by Ofsted. The private Putney High for girls, nearby St Paul’s boys’ school in Barnes, St Paul’s girls’ school in Hammersmith and King’s College in Wimbledon are all highly academic and get excellent results.
Shops and restaurants: Putney High Street and the Putney Exchange shopping centre offer top high street names including Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. Independent shops abound on Putney Bridge Road in West Putney. Alfresco eating at Carluccio’s or the Boathouse pub overlooking the river in the piazza at Putney Wharf is a tucked-away pleasure on a sunny evening. Pubs include the Duke’s Head close to the start of the boat race; the Half Moon a famous music venue; and the Telegraph, hidden away in the heart of Putney Heath. Enoteca Turi in the high street is Putney’s favourite Italian restaurant. MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace recently opened his first restaurant, Wallace & Co, on Upper Richmond Road, to mixed reviews.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF WANDSWORTH:
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Transport: Putney Bridge, Fulham, and Putney East Tube stations are in Zone 2 and are on the Wimbledon branch of the District line; Putney station has trains to Clapham Junction (six minutes) and Waterloo (17 minutes). Putney itself is on the A3 connecting it to Guildford and Portsmouth. An annual travelcard covering Zones 1 and 2 costs £1,032.
Council: Putney is in Wandsworth and the Band D council tax for 2010/11 is £682.
Sales and renting
Average sales prices in SW15
One-bedroom flat: £241,772
Two-bedroom flat: £349,435
Two-bedroom house: £420,674
Three-bedroom house: £508,053
Four-bedroom house: £843,765
Average lettings prices in SW15
One-bedroom flat: £1,000 to £1,300pm
Two-bedroom flat: £1,250 to £2,000pm
Three-bedroom house: £1,700 to £3,000pm
Four-bedroom house: £3,000 to £4,000pm
Five-plus bedroom houses: £4,000 to £8,000pm
Photographs by Barry Phillips