Just north-west of London, sandwiched between Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire you’ll find beautiful Buckinghamshire. Famed for the Chiltern Hills and perhaps equally Milton Keynes, we’ve come up with a list to help you sort the wheat from the chaff. Whether you’re looking for refuge from London, at a commutable distance, or you’re moving in from elsewhere, Buckinghamshire is one of the finest counties to live in England. Its average house price of £443,497 isn’t too outlandish either.
When it comes to education, it’s quirky, in the sense that Bucks is one of the last remaining counties where secondary education is fully selective. Taking the 11+ is standard. Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow is generally considered the best state, but Bucks has got some fantastic independents too. For days out, there’s plenty of National Trust and nature attractions, not to mention Bletchley Park, now turned into a museum.
For country charm within spitting distance of London, the Chalfonts are definitely your best bet. It’s a cluster of villages consisting of Chalfont St Peter, Chalfont St. Giles and Little Chalfont with lots of pretty Tudor houses and nice pubs. They have their own independent school, The Chalfonts Independent Grammar, with a good reputation. They’re also ridiculously well connected, being close to the M25, Heathrow Airport and on the tube. You’ll also be neighbours with Elstree Studios where Star Wars and countless other hollywood blockbusters are made. For nature and messing about on the river you’ve got Colne Valley Regional Park right on your doorstep.
Amersham is a tale of two towns in many ways. The old town’s got charming houses and medieval streets, along with a Michelin starred restaurant, The Artichoke. Obviously more expensive than its counterpart, Amersham-on-the-Hill, which is a new town. That’s grown up around the Metropolitan Line station at its centre, and is a different kettle of fish altogether. Still nice in many ways, especially for its Mad Squirrel Tap and Bottleshop and urbane restaurants. Being on the tube and national rail it’s really accessible and Amersham is of course surrounded by the Chiltern Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.
There are too many picturesque villages in Bucks to include on our list, but Great Missenden is probably the best of them, so here it is. It was home to Roald Dahl for 36 years and you can find many of the places that gave inspiration to the locations in his stories, like the library from Matilda. The houses are wonky and from all the eras of the last five hundred years at least. Very well connected to London by train. Although pricey, something worth a look comes on the market pretty regularly. The George Inn is a great place for a pint and Hughenden Manor, the country home of Minister Benjamin Disraeli is nearby, with gardens designed by his wife and a museum about his life.
Another one in the Chilterns. Very expensive, but this is prime commuter territory with some of the most beautiful houses you’ll find in Bucks. The old part of town has plenty of cottages and old pubs. The Royal Standard, just outside it, is supposed to be the oldest freehouse in the country and is often packed with London types during the hotter months who come up on the line from Marylebone. There are also some luxury flats to choose from if the houses are beyond your range. Excellent school choices too, notably The Royal Grammar and Burnham Grammar.
At the bargain end of our selections is Buckingham. It’s a pretty little town, with a slow paced way of life and some lovely houses. The town centre has a Waitrose and a great pub in the Woolpack – riverside, with open fires. Plenty of nature walks outside of town. Being right next to Milton Keynes it’s got everything else you need a short schlep away. For motorsport enthusiasts Silverstone is close by. Bletchley Park, also nearby, is well worth a visit. For schools, there’s the Royal Latin, one of Bucks’ many grammar schools and some other excellent secondaries and primaries. A 45 minute train link into London from Milton Keynes is 15 minutes’ drive away.
Another Bucks town with a rich literary history. Nestled on the banks of the Thames, Marlow is easy on the eye to put it lightly. Think Georgian houses, weeping willows and rowing boats skating by. T.S. Elliot and Mary Shelly both lived here at times and it’s got a reputation for rich, artsy types still. Any houses overlooking the river are eye wateringly expensive. Though, see below for a two bed flat on the river which might be a bit closer to most budgets. Too many delightful pubs to choose from here, including The Two Brewers, The Coach and The Chequers. Connections to London are reasonable, but there is a change involved on the train to Paddington.