SUNNINGDALE The development of the Southern Railway at the turn of the century made Sunningdale accessible to London businessmen who wanted to build country mansions with golf and racing on their doorsteps. Several of these minor palaces still survive intact, but many were demolished in the Thirties and Sixties to make way for new development. Others have been converted into flats. It is a village of two parts – the old village around the church, and the busier shopping area near the station. Part of it lay within Surrey until 1991, when the whole was switched into Berkshire. The most sought-after houses are in Titlarks Hill (where Gary Lineker lives), leading to the golf course, and in Ridgemount and Priory Roads. Large new-build houses in half to one acre sell for between £2m and £3.75m; a 10-year-old mini mansion could cost £5.95m. Kenneth Branagh has completely rebuilt a house here. Sunningdale is not exclusively a playground for the rich. In the old village there are three-bedroom Victorian semis for between £350,000 and £450,000. Think twice before buying a house too close to the A30. When the M25 or M3 get clogged the traffic pours on to the other through roads and jams these, too. There is a good choice of state and private schools. Sport is plentiful but rather exclusive. There are two top polo clubs, and golf at Wentworth and Sunningdale, which has the oldest golf club for women in the country.
Sunninghill to the west is a large parish covering several communities, none of which has retained its original atmosphere. The area known as Cheapside is small and sweet with The Thatched Tavern that is memorable for its good food. Sunninghill has a busy High Street with 50 or so shops, but its identity problem is not helped by the fact that Ascot station (see next station) is in Sunninghill, and most people prefer it to Sunninghill station. East-west trains stop at Ascot, and the car park has been considerably extended. Plentiful ate19th- and early 20th-century houses sell to London commuters or to those with jobs or businesses in Camberley or Heathrow. You would pay between £350,000 and £450,000 for a two- or three-bedroom semi. The church is busy, as is the dramatics society, The Quince Players.
A couple of miles south of Sunninghill is Windlesham. It a village with a stout heart, which has fended off new development and obtained lottery money to refurbish the amateur Windlesham Club and Theatre. Semis can be bought for £350,000 to £400,000. Yet it flirts with the rich and famous, too. His Highness Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, owns a palatial residence here; Brian May, Queen guitarist, both lives and has a recording studio here; and the Duchess of York famously let Ruby Wax into her rented house here (and showed Ruby her T-shirt shelves and fridge), but she has since moved on. A five- or six-bedroom Thirties’ house, standing in one or two acres in Westwood Road, will fetch between £3m and £6m.