Tetbury is sugar-coated gorgeousness — where Londoners can leave the treadmill behind and submerge themselves in the warmth of an ancient market town in a beautiful corner of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds.
Shoppers flock to 10 Long Street from where Prince Charles sells — by Royal Appointment — the organic vegetables he produces at his country estate just down the road.
But most Christmas shoppers who stop for a coffee at Quayles (1 Long Street), admire the vintage flapper frocks at Qetty Bang Bang (Number 32), or hunt for a pair of cotton socks for dad at The Tetbury Tailor (in neighbouring Chipping Street) will do so unaware that all these shops are run by London exiles who have chosen to relocate both their homes and their careers.
The cook’s tale
David and Philippa Herbert were brought up in the country and were keen that their three children, Rollo, 10, Zinnia, seven, and Rohaise, two, should enjoy the country life, too.
The couple, both 40, left London for Tetbury after David gave up his job as a private client stockbroker, and set up Quayles (quayles.co.uk) a delicatessen, café and wine bar. “I wasn’t really enjoying my work and I wanted to do something I felt passionate about,” says David.
The family are now “double renters”. Their three-bedroom Victorian terrace in Battersea is let to tenants and the Herberts, in turn, rent a Cotswold stone cottage in the village of Rodmarton. They left London in October 2006 and Quales opened the following month. “And in between we moved and got the children into schools. It has been a rollercoaster, very hard work, and fun. You have to live and breathe it — it is not a hobby.”
Quayles opened during the tail-end of the boom years, and has now survived four years of recession. “You have to adapt and change to survive,” says David. “For example, at the start we were mainly a deli, but now the wine bar and coffee elements have become more important. It all costs more than you think, so you have to plan your finances carefully — and don’t expect results overnight.” But no matter how hard it has been, he says: “I lived in London for 15 years and that will do. I have been there and done that and I would be quite happy not to live there again.”
The flapper's tale
Two years ago Kerry Spurry, 38, and her partner, Dave Cray, 43, a business consultant, were living in a garden flat in Richmond. Kerry commuted daily to her job as a business manager for the technology firm Ericsson. Fashion, specifically vintage fashion, was at that stage merely a passion.
"We wanted to move out of London, and kept going further and further west until we hit Tetbury where Dave said, 'This would be a wonderful place for a vintage shop'," Kerry explains. "A light went on — three months later I'd opened the shop."
The couple sold their Richmond flat for £900,000, buying a four-bedroom detached Cotswold-stone cottage in the nearby village of Poulton for £550,000, leaving them able to finance Qetty Bang Bang, a vintage clothing and contemporary fashion shop which Kerry runs, while Dave commutes to London.
Kerry says: "I could never go back. Working for a big company is so impersonal. Here I can be creative and free, I feel that this is really me." And the other Tetbury shopkeepers have welcomed her. "It's like a little team," she says. "I can't think of anything I miss about London, except the late-night cinema, maybe. I certainly don't miss the crowds or Tube."
Her key advice to others is to pick a business model not already catered for. "You need to find a niche, and coming from London you have got an awful lot of inspiration you can take with you and capitalise on."
The taylor's tale
Five years ago Keith Leaver was told that his wife's company was relocating to Tetbury and they decided to move with it. The couple swapped their £500,000 three-bedroom Victorian villa in Cobham, for a cottage in the heart of Tetbury for the same amount. Keith, 55, was working for a clothing company, and wanted to work for himself.
He spotted a shop to rent and two years ago, opened The Tetbury Tailor (thetetburytailor.co. uk), selling high-end and bespoke menswear. "It only took me eight weeks to set up the business, because I have all the contacts, and it really is an absolute doddle," he says.
Starting a new company is always a leap in the dark, particularly in a downturn, but Keith says the firm has grown every year. Business has been so good that four months ago he decided to take on a second shop to sell womenswear.
He agrees that the fact that his 45-year-old wife works and earns well has helped them to enjoy their move. "It is quality of life that is important. I like being able to make decisions myself, fast, and my commute is only five minutes."
The couple knew no one in Tetbury before they arrived but have made the effort to join local societies. Says Keith: "Before we knew it we were a part of the community."
Train times: 82 minutes (from Kemble station to London Paddington)
Annual season ticket: £7,460
Average house price: £345,000
Average detached house price: £495,000
Schools: one senior school, Sir William Romney's, rated "satisfactory"
Photographs: John Lawrence