Five of the best villages to move to in the South Downs:house prices are rising faster than the Cotswolds as Petersfield claims top spot

New research reveals the South Downs National Park as a top property performer, with charming villages within striking distance of London.

Looking for an idyllic country life, good commuter transport links and investment potential? Then you should be concentrating your search south of London, according to new research from Savills.

The study shows that house prices in the South Downs have risen 20 per cent in the past five years, trouncing the sought-after Cotswolds on 10 per cent.

The South Downs also outperformed the Surrey Hills, Kent Downs, and High Weald, while its 260 square miles contain several really good towns. Andrew Beecheno, a director of Winkworth estate agents, particularly admires Petersfield in Hampshire.

“It’s fantastic, with leading national brands such as Waitrose, and a wide range of small, independent retailers. There’s even a Michelin-star restaurant, JSW [short for chef-proprietor Jake Saul Watkins].”


Nick Ferrier, director at Jackson-Stops & Staff, agrees Petersfield is the Downs’ top town. “It claims a fantastic location, with easy access to London as well as the south coast for sailing and day trips to the Isle of Wight,” he says. “It is surrounded by exceptional countryside, something to suit every lifestyle, as well as charming villages.”

Trains from Petersfield to Waterloo take just over an hour and an annual season ticket costs from £4,308.

Local schools rated “good” by Ofsted include The Petersfield School, a secondary school; Herne Junior School and Petersfield CofE Aided Primary. For fee-paying families, Bedales School and Churcher’s College are nearby.

Petersfield has some great period houses. A detached four-bedroom home in the town centre would cost about £800,000. You could get a four-bedroom Victorian terrace for half as much, or a two-bedroom cottage from £300,000. A two-bedroom flat in the centre would cost about £250,000.

Beyond Petersfield, but still in Hampshire and within easy striking distance, are the villages of the Meon Valley. George Clarendon, head of Knight Frank’s Winchester office, praises “the countryside — the rolling Downs, a combination of farmland, woodland and the river Meon”. 

£1.5 million: a five-bedroom detached house with paddock and outbuildings in Petersfield, Hampshire. Through Savills 

Bobby Hall, a partner at The Buying Solution buying agency, agrees the beautiful villages of East and West Meon would make great choices. Each has a lovely gastropub — The Thomas Lord in West Meon and Ye Olde George Inn in East Meon — and schools regarded as “good” by Ofsted.

Property ranges from new-build to Georgian to traditional brick-and-flint cottages, and five-bedroom executive houses which sell for about £1.2 million. Four-bedroom houses on the village fringes come in at £800,000 to £850,000, while a two- or three-bedroom thatched cottage in the heart of the village would cost about £500,000.

Petersfield and the Meon Valley sit in the heart of the South Downs National Park and to its northern fringes is the large village of Liphook.


Katherine Watters, an associate at The Buying Solution, says the village’s good road and rail links make it a popular commuter choice. Trains to Waterloo take just over an hour and an annual season ticket costs £4,028.

“Liphook itself has a great selection of shops, a supermarket, pubs, and restaurants,” she says. “The Madhuban Indian restaurant even produces its own sauces, sold in local delicatessens.”

£1.75 million: The Old Stables, a restored 1850s six-bedroom, five-bathroom detached house between the villages of Hollycombe and Milland, near Liphook. Through Knight Frank

The village has infant and junior schools rated “good” by Ofsted, and for seniors, Bohunt School is rated “outstanding”.

Watters adds: “Interest in the area has rocketed and I would expect to see prices starting to climb over the next year.”

For now, you could buy a five-bedroom detached house in Liphook from about £650,000 or a two-bedroom cottage for between £260,000 and £280,000. Around Liphook are several other good villages, notably Milland.


“Milland has a fantastic, friendly village community,” says Bill Spreckley, of Stacks Property Search. “There’s an excellent sports club, a community shop where most residents give up two hours per month to work a stint, one of the best rural fairs in the country every two years, and The Rising Sun, recently voted Fuller’s pub of the year.”

Milland commuters can head for Liphook station or take a 15-minute drive to Haslemere, to pick up 52-minute trains to Waterloo. Village properties start at about £375,000 for a three-bedroom post-war house, but you could easily pay over £1 million for a four- to five-bedroom manor house.


Buying agent Paul Frost, of Prime Purchase, selects Lurgashall, 10 miles south-east of Liphook, with its winery, great pub The Noah’s Ark and “quintessential” village green. “Haslemere station is a 15-minute drive, London is under an hour.”

£2.65 million: a detached six-bedroom country house with electric gates to the sweeping driveway, a tennis court, swimming pool, annexe and outbuildings, handy for The Noah’s Ark pub at Lurgashall. Through Knight Frank 

There’s a village shop and post office, a cricket team, football club, summer fête, and regular film nights run by locals. It lacks a primary school but nearby Northchapel Community Primary School is rated “good” by Ofsted. Seniors must travel to Midhurst or Billingshurst. Property starts at about £450,000 for a three-bedroom cottage. Four-bedroom farmhouses on the outskirts sell for about £1 million.


Nearer the coast is Amberley, with thatched cottages and its eponymous castle hotel, set in glorious countryside. This good-looking village has a post office, a shop and a good pub, and is a half-hour’s drive from the sea. 

The village school “requires improvement” according to Ofsted. The commute from Amberley station to Victoria takes from an hour and 25 minutes, while an annual season ticket costs from £4,012.

Michelle Betts, of Guy Leonard & Co, says a three- or four-bedroom family home would cost about £600,000. Prices have increased by six-and-a-half per cent over the last year. “There has always been a premium to pay for living in this quaint and popular village near the coast and the station,” she adds.

“Many Londoners used to own holiday cottages and weekend getaways here. Now they’re moving in permanently because they love the rural lifestyle and get more for their money.”


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