Spires and Squires of Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire is enjoying a moment in the spotlight, and rightly so. BBC’s Countryfile visited the county last month, filming a pioneering retail park and wildlife reserve in the Nene Valley. Then just last week Country Life wrote that “the charming villages of Northamptonshire are the heartland of England”, with Michael Graham director Richard Irlam agreeing on the importance of buyers exploring the numerous beautiful villages when planning a move to the country. So why choose this county of “squires, spires and outstanding schools” over its near neighbours of Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire?
Countryfile presenter John Craven describes Northamptonshire’s landscape as ‘spectacular’, packed with ancient woodlands and more historic houses than anywhere else in the country. The villages are picture-perfect and tick every box on a rural idyll checklist – good primary schools, a pub or two, a shop, a church, and social clubs covering everything from theatre and film to gardening and arts. Attractive country houses and quaint thatched cottages are built from some of the country’s best building stones, including the beautiful honey-coloured Lincolnshire limestone. Cheekily, although named ‘Lincolnshire’, many of the quarries actually lie in Northamptonshire. A fact which also accounts for the number of beautiful churches scattered around the county.
From churches to Kinky Boots (Northamptonshire once led the world in shoe and boot making), and on to sport. The county is serious about its cricket, rugby (The Northampton Saints) and equestrian pursuits, with The Pytchley Hunt one of England’s most famous packs. Point-to-points and country shows are highlights of the summer (and Michael Graham) social calendar. Another interesting fact to have up your sleeve for a village pub quiz is that 80% of the world’s Formula One cars are built in Northampton.
Northamptonshire villages have largely stayed under the commuter radar and properties on the market offer fantastic value for money as a result. Which is incredible considering that Northampton, Milton Keynes, Bicester and Wellingborough have mainline stations with direct trains to London taking less than an hour. Being able to get home in time for an evening drink in the countryside makes that commute feel a price worth paying.