HARLINGTON, on the very tip of the Chiltern Hills, has an attractive core of timber-framed houses and thatched cottages grouped around the church. They are in a conservation area, and anything with two bedrooms will cost at least £150,000. On the outskirts are two estates built about 30 years ago. Three-bedroom semis are priced at around £180,000 to £240,000; four-bedroom detached houses at £240,000 upwards. A five-bedroom detached house in one and a half acres, with stables, could be about £500,000. A few local shops and a post office serve a population of around 2,300, but the place is hammered by commuter traffic. There is a good infants school, an upper school and a sixth form college. The nearest middle school is at Toddington (see below), a few miles to the south-west. There is quite a strong sporting tradition in the village.
Toddington, which lies just off the M1, has a population of about 5,000 and a range of shops and schools. There are a few elegant houses around the green, and some intriguing old pubs. Toddington Manor was the home of Henrietta Wentworth, mistress of the Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II. The town has grown paunchy with new development. Property prices are slightly lower than Harlington’s, with three-bedroom semis at around £210,000.
Prettier villages in the Harlington area include Tingrith and Milton Bryan. Both these are hamlets of no more than 40 picture-postcard cottages each, plus the occasional Georgian farmhouse. There are no shops or schools, and both appeal to the better-heeled sort of commuter. Cottages start at around £120,000; family-sized period houses fetch between £200,000 and £500,000.