Living The Country Dream
PUBLISHED: 14:48 28 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:31 03 October 2016
Village Life on the Cheshire Plain
I am a country girl – born and bred – and, having experienced both city living and the more bucolic side of life, I can definitely say I am happier having green fields, woods and open spaces around me, though I did enjoy the spell of being more metropolitan in my youth. Being surrounded by constant innovation, having everything you needed (and didn’t need!) on your doorstep, the cosmopolitan population and culture, takeaways, theatres, public transport… life was a whirlwind. But I do remember spending most weeks plotting how I could escape back to the country for weekends.
Moving back to a small village was, for me, a life choice. It was all familiar and easy, and the pace of life was a welcome relief. As Strutt & Parker’s Open House Day approaches, it got me thinking: how many people visiting the properties on our books are chasing a country fantasy? According to a survey I found, 80% of the population dream of living in the countryside whilst only 20% actually live there. Archetypal Cheshire property certainly has the dream-appeal: black & white timber framed or serene red-brick, wonderful open vistas onto the Cheshire plain populated with dairy cattle and farms, or more sizeable modern property on the outskirts of historic towns neatly blending town and country living, the old and the new.
Cheshire is blessed with the best of both worlds: castles, culture, and historic walks marry with shopping, innovative eateries, sporting venues and good transport links for commuters, both train and car. For a true city-liver, moving to a country village to “get away from it all” means that the novelty of having nothing literally on your doorstep might wear off pretty quickly! Most country villages are centred around a historic building – usually the church – or a pub, but there are not many with a takeaway, or even a shop for that matter.
If you are looking for the perfect property, there is an Estate Agent adage being “the 5 Ps”: Pub, Public Transport, Parish Church, Primary School, and Post Office. These things can provide a lifeline if you think you might need an easy transition from town to country and not to battle feelings of isolation. The perception of village life is every incumbent waving cheerily to each other across the picturesque green, and the Post Office queue taking a while because everyone is merrily swapping news over the counter. But of course many villagers will have lived there for years –in fact, families can have been there for generations: incomers might feel on the outside of the close-knit community and wistfully long to be a part of it. But if you have the 5 “P’s”, you will have a good grounding for finding your place.
One of the largest and most popular villages on our patch is Tarporley. It definitely has all the “P’s” and, in fact, its name is derived from a 6th P – historically something to do with a Pear wood near a hill! It has a Post Office, a historic and beautiful Parish Church, a Primary School, a very well regarded High School (outstanding in the last Ofsted report), is close to (though by-passed by) two main roads and it is not far to Crewe Station. It ticks all the boxes for most people: families with all ages of children; commuters needing the best of both worlds – peace at home but good transport nearby; retirees who (coming a full circle) need the security of having everything back on their doorstep without the confusion of city living. This makes it one of our top locations for house-hunters but it does mean that property prices are higher than the surrounding areas, and that property does not come up very often as it is a popular place to be.
Tarporley is a pretty sophisticated village and one of the largest in Cheshire. It has a large variety of shops from grocery to baker and butcher, a number of fashion shops and boutiques, a wine shop, a delicatessen, home furnishings, hairdressers, florists and even a chocolate shop. Added to that, there are 4 pubs and 3 restaurants. During my research I found over 3 pages of clubs and groups - everything from ballet for children and for grown-ups, to Taekwon-Do, and patchworking. It has a very active Parish Council (the tier of local government closest to the people) which is consulted by the Planning Authority for all developments affecting the village; they issue the Village Design Statement, respond to Consultations from Local and National Government, and they deal with the Community Centre, the footpaths, general village maintenance, the Christmas lights – and everything in between! Added to that, Tarporley is surrounded by “things to do”, from Delamere Forest, to the Ice Cream Farm, from candle-making to castles, from horse-riding to historic walking on the Sandstone trail, and all rounded off with golf and fishing if you are not too exhausted…
It is definitely a “best of both worlds” village: history and innovation sit happily side-by-side nestled in The Cheshire Plain. Another Perfect P.
National Open House Day is on Saturday 8th October 2016
Strutt & Parker, 37 Lower Bridge Street, Chester CH1 1RS 01244 354880