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England’s most beautiful places: 17 picture-perfect villages

by KatieRowe

Category: Weekend ideas
April 25 2017

Recently, the Sunday Times published a list of the most beautiful villages in Britain, and while most of us can’t foot the bill to live in these often-pricey locales, visiting a village is a great alternative and the perfect tonic for the stresses of city life. Here are the 17 English villages that featured...

1) Mayfield, East Sussex

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What’s the fuss about?

Yes, Mayfield ticks all the boxes of quaintness and convenience that are required of England’s best villages, but alongside its half-timbered houses, beautiful pub, boutique shops, artisan eateries and bi-annual festival of arts and music, this pleasant village has a darker side. The annual Mayfield carnival and bonfire in September commemorates the village’s link to the ‘gunpowder treason and plot’ of Guy Fawkes.

Get there

Take a Southeastern service leaving from London’s Charing Cross or London Bridge stations to Royal Tunbridge Wells, then board the 251 or 252 bus to reach Mayfield. The journey is approximately one hour and 45 minutes.

2) Shoreham, Kent

What’s the fuss about?

As well as a pretty high street and traditional pubs, this Kentish town also has a secret weapon that sets it apart from the rest; the award-winning Mount Vineyard, offering tours and tastings as well as a guest house. And if you’re staying in Shoreham during the summer, take some wine and head over to the Hop Shop at Castle Farm for a picnic amidst the lavender fields.

Get there

Thameslink runs a direct service to Shoreham station in about 50 minutes from London’s Blackfriars, or Southeastern Railways reaches Shoreham from London Victoria in about 45 minutes with one change.  

3) Wimbledon, London

What’s the fuss about?

Apart from the eponymously named tennis grand slam tournament, the well-heeled Wimbledon Village has excellent shopping and a whole lot of parkland. If you can’t bother to queue for tennis tickets, head to Wimbledon Common to check out the windmill or simply pop into one of the many chic pubs or restaurants including the Ivy Cafe.

Get there

From central London it takes 45 minutes to reach Wimbledon via the District Line (marked in green on Tube maps), and the station is also served by South West Trains services from Vauxhall and Waterloo.

4) Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire

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What’s the fuss about?

Long Crendon may well be the perfect English village. Thatch-roofed cottages and a 15th-century courthouse are interspersed with top-notch pubs and restaurants. The village has its own brewery, as well. It’s so picturesque, in fact, that it is regularly featured as a backdrop for the long-running detective drama Midsomer Murders. 

Get there

Haddenham & Thame Parkway station is a 45-minute trip from Marylebone Station in London, and another 10 minutes on the 111 or 112 bus will get you into Long Crendon.

5) Amberley, West Sussex

What’s the fuss about?

Located within the boundaries of the South Downs National Park, Amberley is a small-but-perfectly-formed village of about 550 residents. The village runs east from the fortifications of Amberley Castle, a majestic centrepiece that dates from 1377 and is now a luxury hotel. Other notable sights in the town include an agricultural museum that hosts an ale festival every September.

Get there

Southern Railway will take you to Amberley station in about an hour from Portsmouth and it’s an hour and a half from London Victoria

6) Kingham, Oxfordshire

What’s the fuss about?

In Oxfordshire’s Evenlode Valley, the village of Kingham is situated around an open green and filled with Cotswolds stone and thatch-roofed houses. All good reasons to add this to your list of places to visit in the UK. Be sure not to miss the incredible food here; The Wild Rabbit has a Michelin star and the Big Feastival, held in Kingham each August, is one of the UK’s largest food festivals.

Get there

Great Western Railway will take you from Oxford to Kingham station in under an hour. 

7) Dulwich Village, London

What’s the fuss about?

In Dulwich, you can live the village lifestyle in London and live the London lifestyle in a village. In short, you get the best of both. You’ll feel the relaxation of the green space, manicured homes and gardens and independent shops and cafes, but you won’t miss the excellent art, top notch food and ubiquitous pubs you’re used to in London. Keep an eye out for The Crown and Greyhound which is set to become the area’s first boutique hotel in late spring.

Get there

Take the Southern Rail service from London Bridge towards Epsom, and you’ll arrive at North Dulwich Station in just 15 minutes.

8) Lavenham, Suffolk

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What’s the fuss about?

The good times are back for one of Medieval England’s wealthiest towns. Along with its upscale eateries and inns, Lavenham’s well-preserved historical architecture is a big draw for travellers. The National Trust has developed a short walk that takes in some of the oldest buildings, including many ‘crooked houses’ whose structures have shifted over the centuries. 

Get there

Lavenham is about 40 minutes by bus from either Sudbury or Bury St Edmunds, which both have well-connected rail services.

9) Dersingham, Norfolk

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What’s the fuss about?

Dersingham, like much of the Norfolk coast, is an estuarine environment, boasting flocks of migratory birds during the summer and abundant natural landscapes. Two national nature reserves – Dersingham Bog and The Wash – are located nearby, and the area is also frequented by royalty. The Queen has an estate at Sandringham, and the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge made their home at Anmer Hall for the first years of their marriage.

Get there

It’s 20 minutes by bus from Dersingham to King’s Lynn, which has good transport links to larger cities including London, Peterborough and Norwich.

10) Lustleigh, Devon

What’s the fuss about?

In Lustleigh, summer is the time when the community comes together. From its May Day parade to the August bank holiday’s village show, locals and visitors alike join in a seasonal celebration in this village nestled in Dartmoor National Park. So, gather your community spirit and get down to Devon.

Get there

It takes 20 minutes to Lustleigh on the 382 bus from Newton Abbot. Exeter is the nearest city.

11) Dittisham, Devon

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What’s the fuss about?

If you’re looking for the perfect English seaside retreat, look no further than Dittisham. Situated on the River Dart, not far from Dartmouth in Devon’s southern reaches, the village has great views, fresh seafood, a pub and boat hire. Do a little crabbing and then sail, paddle or take the Greenway Ferry over to Agatha Christie’s holiday home, Greenway Estate.

Get there

Totnes is the nearest town with a railway station, and you’ll need to get a taxi from there. Alternatively, you can try the Dartmouth Steam Railway & Riverboat Company from Paignton. Greenway Halt is the closest stop; from there you’ll take a foot ferry across the River Dart to reach Dittisham.

 

12) Preston Candover, Hampshire

What’s the fuss about?

Opera fans, you’re in luck. Apart plenty of quaint character and community spirit, Preston Candover has a beautiful venue for world-class opera performances. Each summer The Grange brings works by Mozart, Bizet and Britten, Verdi and others to its award-winning, Greek revival opera house in beautifully-landscaped grounds. Be sure to pack your champagne, it’s a local tradition.

Get there

From London Waterloo, take the South West Trains service to Basingstoke; the C41 bus runs from Basingstoke to Preston Candover.

13) Ripley, North Yorkshire

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What’s the fuss about?

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ripley Ice Cream. The North Yorkshire village of around 250 people is just as well-known for its castle whose Ingilby family celebrated 700 years in residence in 2009. The many stone houses make a quaint setting, and The Boar’s Head coaching inn is a picturesque place to stay.

Get there

It’s a little over an hour from Leeds and just 10 minutes from the spa town of Harrogate to Ripley on the 36 bus route.

14) Sherston, Wiltshire

What’s the fuss about?

Sherston has been inhabited since at least the Roman era, as the village’s archaeological sites attest. Located in south-west England, it holds an annual carnival in mid-July revolving around an extensive boules tournament. There are a number of family activities as well as cricket matches and more. Also in July, the town hosts a music and cider festival.

Get there

Take a 20-minute train ride from Bristol to Yate and then hop aboard the 41 bus for the half-hour trip to Sherston.

15) Great Milton, Oxfordshire

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What’s the fuss about?

The ancient village of Great Milton has been home to several notable figures over the years, and one famous current resident, chef Raymond Blanc, uses the town manor house as a cookery school, hotel and double Michelin-starred restaurant, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. Why not take a short course? You might learn something. Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White did.

Get there

Great Milton is a short cab ride from both Haddenham & Thame Parkway and Didcot Parkway, which have easy rail links to London. 

16) Hale, Greater Manchester

What’s the fuss about?

Mostly, the fuss is about wealth – in particular, the wealth of highly-paid sports stars. The site of ‘footballers’ row’ and part of the Cheshire ‘golden triangle’ of wealthy villages, the leafy suburb of Hale has enough mansions and sports cars to fill a football fan’s pilgrimage itinerary, plus plenty of sophisticated boutiques and restaurants.

Get there

The train from Manchester Piccadilly, in the city centre, to Hale takes less than 30 minutes.

17) Hallaton, Leicestershire

What’s the fuss about?

Not far from Market Harborough, Hallaton is a cute village with tearooms, pubs and a village hall all to boot. Leicestershire is known for its unique traditions and Hallaton’s annual ‘bottle kicking’ game doesn’t disappoint. On Easter Monday, the townsfolk parade through Medbourne and Hallaton with a giant hare pie and three small kegs or ‘bottles’.

Get there

Market Harborough has the nearest railway station, and your best option from there is a 15-minute taxi ride to Hallaton.

KatieRowe

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