THATCHAM The old village of Thatcham, with a green at its centre, has swollen with new developments in the last couple of decades and more is yet to come. It has become a town, good for secondary shopping, but Reading or Newbury (only two miles away) offer much more. Various developers are busy building 880 new homes on former Ministry of Defence land south of the town centre, near the station. Among Redrow’s selection of flats and houses, a three-storey, four-bedroom home costs £250,000, or £350,000 for five bedrooms. The most sought-after development is Dunston Park, within easy reach of the station and an established stamping grounds for professional couples and young families. Four-bedroom houses cost around £260,000 to £400,000. South Thatcham is less popular and sometimes less savoury (being close to the sewage works), so prices are lower. But lower prices mean good value and the average price for a four-bedroom house here is around £230,000.
The snag about Thatcham is that you have to negotiate the level-crossing to reach the station. ‘If you are not careful, you can be stuck in your car at the crossing waiting for your own train to whoosh by,’ says one exasperated commuter.
Cold Ash, a little over a mile away, is particularly popular, straggling fetchingly down a hill into the Kennet valley. It has about 4,000 residents, a community hall, a shop-cum-post office and some modern infilling. Property here sells quickly. A Victorian, semi-detached four-bedroom cottage will cost £350,000.
The village of Bucklebury nearby, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has some pretty cottages and a large common criss-crossed with footpaths. The Blade Bone Inn has a copper-plated mammoth’s shoulder bone on display, hence the name. Bradfield, the boys’ public school, is close. A period cottage will cost from £400,000 to £900,000, but anything larger with land attached will top £1m. There is a curious little 17th-century painting of a fly and sundial in the local church, with the body and legs on one side of the glass and the wings on the other, Tempus fugit (time flies).