The annual list from The Sunday Times has included Stroud and Windrush Valley in the Cotswolds in their top 10 for the South West; praising Stroud as “the bohemian capital of the Cotswolds” and the tearooms and bridges of Bourton-on-the-Water.
Stroud has returned to the top 10 South West locations included in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2019 for another year; Windrush Valley is making its first appearance on the list.
Topsham in Devon is a new entry on this year’s list, and has hit the top spot straight away; being awarded the title of the Best Place to Live in the Southwest for 2019.
The South West results come ahead of the full reveal of The Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide, including the overall winner, which will be published on Sunday April 14.
The supplement takes into account a wide range of factors, from employment, schools and broadband speed to culture, community spirit and local shops, in order to compile the definitive top locations to live.
‘Why we love it loud, proud and Stroud’
The Sunday Times described Stroud as the bohemian capital of the Cotswolds.
They said: “With a sizeable community of artists, musicians and authors and, increasingly, creative entrepreneurs, the Stroud Valley is reluctant to bow to the Establishment.
There is a “strong history” of protest in Stroud, dating back to the riots of 1825.
“Threatened trees still stand, as do the maternity hospital and Uplands post office; and, this year, hundreds of pupils joined global protests against inaction on climate change,” they added.
(Image: ©Thousand Word Media Ltd)
Education was praised in Stroud for getting top marks for all ages; the town’s two grammar schools, Stroud High School and Marling School made the top 150 in the Sunday Times Parent Power league table and the University of the Third Age has 50 groups.
Notable mentions for Stroud involved their “green credentials”; including the organic cafe Woodruffs, which was “the first in the country when it opened more than 20 years ago.”
The town was praised for the Saturday farmers’ market, which is one of the biggest and best,
The Sunday Times added: “Stroud has also become a festival town, with fringe, film, book, folk and sacred music events adding to the colourful Stroud Wassail in January.
(Image: John Anyon)
“In fact, there’s so much going on the town needs a monthly magazine, Good on Paper.
“It’s free, but deliberately not online, to encourage readers to visit the venues, shops, galleries and pubs that stock it.”
And those are the reasons why the Sunday Times love it loud, proud and Stroud.
The Sunday Times Best Places to Live – Southwest
- Topsham, Devon
- Southville, Bristol
- Chagford, Devon
- Corsham, Wiltshire
- Falmouth, Cornwall
- Frome, Somerset
- Lyme Regis, Dorset
- Stroud, Gloucestershire
- Tisbury, Wiltshire
- Windrush Valley, Gloucestershire
‘The honey-coloured heart of the Cotswolds’
The Sunday Times said the stretch between Bourton-on-the-Water, through the small village of Windrush, past Burford and Minster Lovell is “the honey-coloured Cotswolds you really want to live in.”
They said Bourton attracts with its village green and string of little bridges and 17th and 18th century houses between the tearooms and the tourists.
There is also the “mellow yellow Burford, where the stone seems brighter than elsewhere.”
Burford was praised for its Tudor and Georgian houses, which are nestled between antiques shops, small hotels, restaurants and pubs.
The Sunday Times added: “Life’s little luxuries are numerous and rich here, not unlike the celebrities who have homes in the area.
“Daylesford and Soho Farmhouse are a short drive away; in Bourton, those with shallower pockets and/or simpler tastes can watch the Windrush with a glass of white wine at the Duke of Wellington inn.”
The villages of Sherborne, Windrush, Little and Great Barrington, Taynton, Swinbrook and Minster Lovell were all given notable mentions; “as long as you are above the loodline.”
(Image: Getty Images)
‘Topsham number one’
The estuary town is close to Exeter; its 5,000-strong population are fiercely determined to keep it independent and quirky.
The Sunday Times said: “It has a real sense of community, and, as part of their efforts to keep it free from coffee chains, the residents have started the Love Topsham scheme, which offers perks for shopping locally in return for a £3 monthly subscription.
“Its amenities keep improving. Long-standing restaurants have been joined by new enterprises: Nourish, a zero-waste shop; Sara’s Petite Cuisine, which serves delicious salmon rolls; and No 3.
“Every other year, there’s a summer feast, with the whole town lining the streets and quayside for barbecues and Barolo.”
Focus this year was ‘community spirit’
The Sunday Times said they use robust statistics, including exclusive, up-to-date house prices provided y Habito and TwentyCi, but also the knowledge of The Sunday Time’s expert panel.
They added the judges combine the hard data with their own on-the-ground experience and insight to ensure the chosen locations truly are places where everyone can thrive.
The Sunday Times Home editor, Helen Davies, said: “Finding our very own best place to live now feels more important than ever, for our wellbeing and wealth, happiness and health.
“Wherever you are on the property ladder The Sunday Times has championed 101 locations across the UK, and crowned one lucky winner, that we think is a great place to make a home.
“This year we were looking for community spirit along with convenience and culture.
“There is so much going on around the county, and so many great places that the choice was a hard one.”
Founder and CEO at Habito, the online mortgage broker, Daniel Hegarty, said: “The Sunday Times Best Places to Live really is essential reading for anyone looking to buy, move or renovate their home in the UK.
“We know there are many reasons, beyond house prices, why people live where they live in the South West.
“But, regardless of location, getting a mortgage can be the most hellish part of buying.
“Habito exists to make mortgages easier whether that’s for a couples’ first flat in Bristol, a rural cottage in Stroud or a historic home in Frome.”
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