NEWPORT has always been more expensive than the neighbouring town of Saffron Walden, to which it long ago lost its market. It has a fine main street of gracious houses, all within easy reach of the station and the M11. An added attraction is Newport Free School – an ex-grammar and still highly respected. Three-bedroom houses in the centre of Newport cost from £215,000.
Essex begins to get pricey here, with a collection of very pretty villages. South-west of the station are Clavering, with its cluster of cottages around the church, and Rickling Green. The latter has a picture-book green with a cricket pitch appropriately overlooked by a pub called The Cricketers (owned by the parents of the television naked chef Jamie Oliver). Two-bedroom thatched cottages sell for £190,000 to £300,000, large country houses with land for £1m to £1.2m.
Only a mile from the station to the west is Wicken Bonhunt, very small and exclusive, where an ordinary four-bedroom house will cost around £330,000. Another mile brings you to Arkesden, by a little stream called Wicken Water. Thatched cottages spread themselves around a green, with a 16th-century hall and 13th–14th-century church. An 18th-century house with five bedrooms and five reception rooms would cost over £750,000.
On the east side is Widdington, also very small and expensive. This hilltop village has cottages around a green and larger houses hidden in the lanes. A four-bedroom detached house would cost around £515,000; a detached three-bedroom cottage around £435,000. Debden is another thatched village on the way to nowhere, but it does have two pubs and a heroic community shop that has been going for 20 years. A four-bedroom cottage in the centre of the village will cost £425,000.