Commuter homes in Denham:dramatic conversion of iconic film studios puts “the Hollywood of the Home Counties” in the spotlight

The £120 million conversion of the iconic film studios highlights the joys of this Zone 6 commuter village

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The towpath of the Grand Union Canal as it passes through Denham is quintessentially English: a clutch of fishermen brave the weather and a narrowboat queues to make its way through the lock.

It is hard to imagine Elizabeth Taylor, all furs and diamonds and bouffant hair, sweeping into the village, past ivy-clad cottages, to play the role of a possibly murderous movie star in Eighties crime melodrama The Mirror Crack’d. 

But she did, following in the footsteps of Hollywood legends such as Lawrence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Jean Simmons, who all spent time in the village while working at its film studios.

With the closure of the film studios in 2014, property hunters will soon be able to buy into its glamorous past, thanks to a £120 million development of the site. The Art Deco, grade II-listed main building is being converted into 49 flats, while a further 176 new houses and flats will be built on the 12-acre site.

Were it not for Alexander Korda and his dream of recreating the Hollywood Hills in suburban Buckinghamshire, Denham would be just another commuter retreat for affluent families.

In fact, a move to Denham is not exactly a great leap from the capital, as it sits within the M25 and is just 20 miles from central London.

Despite that, it is a green and pleasant place place, in the middle of the 43-sq mile Colne Valley Regional Park and on the eastern fringes of the Chilterns. 

The towpath of the Grand Union Canal as it passes through Denham

Communications are excellent. Denham is minutes from the M40 and train services to Marylebone take from 24 minutes. Since it is in Zone 6, commuters can buy an annual travelcard rather than a season ticket, allowing full use of the tube network, for £2,408.

Denham is an ancient village, mentioned in the Domesday Book, and is a sweet little place, lined with 16th and 17th-century cottages. Larger, grander houses are placed discreetly on private roads around the fringes of the village and have long been popular with primetime TV stars, from the late Cilla Black and magician Paul Daniels. Sir Roger Moore and actor Shane Richie have also lived in the area.

Denham village has a more contemporary annexe, Denham Garden Village, built after the Second World War, and more modern housing known as “New Denham”. The station sits between old and new Denham and there are a few useful shops and neighbourhood restaurants around it. 

Alternatively, Gerrards Cross, three miles away, has a more comprehensive selection of shops.

The heart of the village is the Swan Inn, a traditional Georgian coaching house recommended by Michelin, where locals go after a game at one of the village's two golf clubs, a long walk through the surrounding country, or after stepping off the London train.

Like all popular villages, there is a school - Denham Village Infant School is rated “good” by Ofsted.

Given all this, it is unsurprising that Denham isn’t bargain property territory. One of its six or seven-bedroom country piles, often with enough acreage for a pony or two, would cost around £2.5 million, and even four-bedroom executive homes are priced from £800,000 to north of £1 million.  

There are also a few modern developments, including King’s Island, built on a natural peninsula in the river Colne, where a two-bedroom flat is on the market for £450,000.

The best value is to be found in suburban-looking New Denham, where a three-bedroom semi can be yours for around £420,000 to £440,000.

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