KETTERING is a no-nonsense East Midlands market town, well supplied with leisure opportunities and good shopping. All the big-name stores are here, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer, and the modern Newlands Shopping Centre is useful if not actually inspiring. There is a leisure village and the 180-acre Wicksteed Park is not far away with its fairground theme park. Those addicted to more sedentary pleasures will be pleased to hear that there is a 10-screen cinema.
The town has a few old Georgian terraces in the centre, larger Victorian houses forming a ring around them, and modern estates on the outskirts. You might pick up a two-bedroom Victorian terrace for £90,000, or a three-bedroom Victorian house with original features and a good garden for around £110,000.
The countryside here at last begins to pick itself up off the Bedfordshire plains. It is a mellow, slightly rolling, farmland landscape which draws people from Kettering out into the surrounding, frankly villagey, little market towns. Look at Rothwell and Desborough to the north, and Burton Latimer to the south. All are similar, with Victorian market places, small shops and their own primary and secondary schools. Property prices are similar to those in Kettering. Rothwell is particularly pretty and has a gem of an Elizabethan market hall. The centre is a designated conservation area, and it has the benefit of a state secondary school, Montsaye. A two-up-two-down terrace will cost £85,000; a three-bedroom terrace £100,000; a three-bedroom semi £125,000 to £135,000; a four-bedroom detached £150,000.
One of the more notable smaller villages is Geddington, four miles north of Kettering, with a population of around 1,400. A medieval bridge crosses the River Ise here, with a forested hillside providing an attractive green backdrop. There are three pubs, a village hall, post office and primary school, and bowls, tennis and cricket clubs. At its heart is a cluster of old cottages, though new housing has forced itself in and there are some Victorian terraces too. For a two-bedroom terraced house or a small cottage you would have to pay upwards of £160,000. Closer to Kettering on this side is the tiny village of Weekley. There are possibly no more than 150 people living here altogether, many of them from old farming families, some of them elderly (the old vicarage is now a residential home). Among the thatched cottages there is a pretty thatched post office, also home to Jessica’s Tea Shop, which is much photographed. There is no school or pub, but the tea shop, village hall and church provide venues for coffee mornings, sports club meetings and choirs. Weekley is a quiet, compact, well-heeled and tight-knit village where a cottage – should you be lucky enough to find one for sale – would cost around £210,000.