Who knows the inside track on Britain's prime addresses? The long-standing local agents – of course – so each week we pin a different one down for an insider's walk around their manor.
This week: Mark Crampton of Middleton Advisors
Where: Guildford is the county town of Surrey with a landmark ‘modern' cathedral, consecrated in 1961 and bustling cobbled high street.
It’s easily commutable with a short train journey to London of around 38 minutes and only 40 minutes from both Heathrow and Gatwick. The town has a compact layout with all the main shops and facilities an easy walk from the centre. There’s lots to do with its Yvonne Arnaud Theatre on the Wey canal, Stoke Park – where the Surrey County Show, GuilFest and other events take place, plus the new G Live venue which opens in September.
And a new park, Surrey Sports Park, was opened to the general public by the University of Surrey in April 2010, with a 50 metre pool, squash courts and floodlit tennis courts. Guildford even has two railway stations, either side of town. Its only downside is that you need to be fit - it’s built on a hill, so most streets are on a slope.
Cobbled High Street
“The high street, which is for pedestrians only from 11.00 am to 4.00 pm, has all the shops you could want, except perhaps for Harrods or Harvey Nichols” says Mark Crampton of Middleton Advisors, who has an office in the town centre. As we wander up the cobbled street, we pass high street names as well as independent shops. At the top is the Royal Grammar School for Boys, a lovely period building dating back to 1509 and half way down the pretty little Guildhall with its ornate clock hanging over the street (pictured right). We also pass the most visited art gallery in Surrey, the Grade I listed 17th century Guildford House Gallery
Property for sale in Guildford
Most of the houses in Guildford are Victorian or Edwardian. Some have stunning views over the countryside and can be very large indeed. There are also a few period gems and quite a few mega new houses built over the last 10 – 15 years. Scott Wishart from Guildford’s independent city centre agent, Hill Clements, says that they are achieving big prices for the right houses in the most sought after locations. “People like the roads around the Warwick Bench area, as they are within walking distance of the town centre and station and also look over Pewley Down” he says. Last year, the agency achieved the highest price for a town centre house, Kingsdown Lacey, at £4.7 million (picture below).
“House prices in Guildford are equivalent to suburban London prices” says Mark. “One bedroom flats cost around £250,000 and we have a huge number of students, nurses and doctors here as well as many corporate headquarters, so the rental market is very good – for both flats and houses.
“Many of our clients are families moving out of south west London, who want to be here because of the schools. The houses in Chantry View Road, Pewley Hill, Warwicks Bench and Northdown Lane are all popular with families, because they are close to town but have lovely views. They are especially good for someone with teenagers, whom they don’t have to ferry around all the time”.
Close to schools
We wander up and down a number of leafy, quiet roads off Epsom Road on the east side of town. Homes here are very sought after, but cheaper than the ones higher up with the views and in Maori Road, Aldersey Road and Hillier Road houses range from £1.5 to £3 million. Anyone living here would find it easy to walk their children to either Lanesborough or Tormead schools.
On the south side of Epsom Road, we walk up Albury Road, which has some of the most expensive houses currently on the market. Hill Clements is selling Albury House, a 9,000 plus square feet late Victorian property in 0.75 acres, for £5 million and Savills is marketing Albury Heights (pictured right), a recently built house with six bedrooms and indoor pool, also for £5 million.
A little further from the schools, but closer to the High street are Sempahore Road and Pewley Hill, where a mix of Victorian, Edwards and 1980’s houses with lovely views sell from £2 million to £4 million for the largest ones of around 5,000 square feet. Coming down the hill from Warwicks Bench back into town, we walk down Castle Hill which curls around the ruins of Guildford Castle. Here, Hamptons is selling Clifton Stable, a pretty re-built two bedroom cottage, for £575,000. Close by is The Chestnuts, the house that Lewis Carroll owned in the late 1800’s although he rarely lived there, and a smattering of historic houses.
Around and about
Some of the nicest villages within 10 minutes of Guildford are Shalford, Wonersh, Shamley Green and Albury. “These will be bought by people looking for larger gardens and more space around them, but still wanting to be near Guildford” says Mark. Penelope Keith, who lives in Milford, regularly opens events in Guildford, Michael Buerke is in Merrow, Phil Collins used to live in Shalford and Damon Hill lives in the area too. And because the Harlequins rugby team use the new Surrey Sports Centre, quite a few of them rent in town.
Most of the houses in Guildford are Victorian or Edwardian. Some have stunning views over the countryside and can be very large indeed.