KINGHAM was declared England’s Favourite Village by Country Life magazine in 2007 for its charm, beauty and setting – it is surrounded by the winding lanes, streams and meadows of the Evenlode Valley. It and the villages around it are cut in fudge-coloured stone, with the occasional outcrop of council houses at the edge. People tolerate the longer commute to London from here because it is just out of reach of the Oxford influence and therefore cheaper. A handsome four-bedroom stone house could be bought for around £475,000; three bedrooms for £399,000; a smaller terraced property for around £250,000.
The Wychwoods (Milton-Under, Shipton-Under and Ascott-Under) are closer to Oxford and slightly more expensive. Ascott-Under-Wychwood has its own station, served by regional trains running from Evesham to Oxford. Many people moving to the area will aim for the catchment of the popular Burford comprehensive school. A stone house with beamed ceilings, mullioned windows with leaded lights, Tudor fireplaces and five to six bedrooms might sell for around £795,000. Bourton-on-the-Water, though a model Cotswold village with its own model village, pushes commuter tolerance a little since it is about 10 miles from Kingham station. But with it come the Slaughters (Lower and Upper), the Lower set upon a stream that wriggles through little stone bridges and the Upper being right on the banks of the Windrush. Locals tend to be farmers, retired couples or craftsmen who don’t mind being miles from anywhere. The nearest shopping centre is Chipping Norton, an old market town, with a farmers’ market, where the huge Bliss tweed mill was restored to provide flats and houses alongside a leisure centre (priced at between £275,000 for a two-bedroom flat and £475,000 for a three-bedroom flat, plus service charges). It has a reputation for being wet and windy and locals say it qualified for extra coal rations in the war because it was the coldest place in the region. The White Hart Hotel in the town centre has been converted into apartments costing around £240,000 for two bedrooms.