The top 20 second home hotspots for Londoners

Good-value property and a fast commute make the Stonehenge county of Wiltshire the first UK choice for the London's second home owners.
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When Londoners buy a second home it would be natural to think the top choice would be a Cotswolds cottage or a Cornish bolt hole, but newly released Census data shows Wiltshire has more second home owners from the capital than any other local authority area in the country. 

It outshines the West Country and the Isles of Scilly, in joint second place, the sailors’ favourite, Chichester, in third, the bright lights of Brighton, fourth, and sweet, sugar-pink Suffolk, which completes the top five.

Wiltshire homes are cheaper and the commute is relatively easy, says Johnny Morris, head of residential research at Hamptons International, which published the findings. “The M4 runs through it and if the Swindon train line is quite expensive, it is also quick. You can get there in a couple of hours after work. Londoners aren’t willing to spend most of their spare time travelling.”

Andrew Rome, a partner at Knight Frank, covers eastern Wiltshire, and recommends the small cathedral city of Salisbury, “surrounded by unspoilt countryside”.


Cathedral city
The cathedral, and Salisbury’s location eight miles from Stonehenge, bring in tourists, so there are plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants, although it is a bit heavy on chain stores for some. Trains to Waterloo take an hour and 23 minutes and while an annual season ticket costs a punishing £5,236, you can get a three-bedroom Victorian terrace house for about £400,000. 

Homes within the historic city walls, known as The Close, are considerably more — about £600,000 for a two-bedroom flat near the cathedral, and £5 million for a Thames-side Georgian detached home in an acre of gardens.

About 12 miles west of Salisbury, in the Nadder Valley, part of the West Wiltshire Downs area of outstanding natural beauty, sits Tisbury. It has a station, but the trip to Waterloo of an hour and 48 minutes makes it better for weekending — as does the £6,320 season ticket.

The pretty high street has useful shops, and homes are built from local green sandstone. A three-bedroom cottage is about £300,000 while a house with four or five bedrooms and a decent garden, with an easy walk to the station, would start from about £500,000.

The Woodford Valley, north of Salisbury, offers beautiful countryside. In the village of Great Durnford, with its pink brick houses and good pub, a three-bedroom thatched cottage would cost about £600,000.


£995,000: a refurbished period house with landscaped gardens in the lovely village of Swallowcliffe

Kate Middleton's old haunts
Marlborough, the affluent market town where the Duchess of Cambridge spent her hockey-playing schooldays, has good shops and restaurants, and annual jazz and literary festivals. A few miles outside is the historic village of Ramsbury in the Kennet Valley. Its primary school has an “outstanding” Ofsted rating and there’s a small parade of shops, plus plenty of sports clubs. 

Trains from Hungerford, about five miles away, take from an hour and eight minutes to Paddington, and an annual season ticket costs £5,292. Buyers pay a premium for a Georgian or Victorian house in Ramsbury. Prices range from £500,000 for a three-bedroom period house up to about £1 million for a five- bedroom family house with gardens. 

Electrification of the Great Western Railway, due to finish by 2017, is boosting Chippenham, further west. The Paddington journey will be cut to about an hour, and house prices could rise by up to 20 per cent. Lovely local villages include olde-worlde Castle Combe, on the River Bybrook six miles away, where War Horse was filmed.


£2.25 million: The Chandry is a handsome Grade II-listed country house in Mere, Wiltshire (Call Savills on 01722 426 800)

It has an upmarket pub and the smart Manor Hotel and golf course, but no school. It’s not cheap — a two-bedroom cottage costs about £500,000 and you would pay up to £3 million for a manor house.

At Kington Langley, a quality village three miles north of Chippenham, two-bedroom cottages start from about £250,000, and a six-bedroom family house in a couple of acres would be about £850,000. There’s a park and two pubs, but the primary school “requires improvement”, says Ofsted. 


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